Grow, Hackney Wick

Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.

This is a long process, so please bear with will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.

Please note that this review is from April 26, 2022 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

I was tired, I was grumpy and I was quite possibly having a mid-life crisis. Or maybe I had just drunk too much in recent days. Either way, I was booked for a roast dinner at Grow, in the delightful area of Hackney Wick.

And I do mean delightful in sincerity – I know some people will find the ramshackle, graffitied collection of buildings to be a dump, but I revel in this kind of area. I feel at home. Yet I felt far too normal also

There was me with my ordinary blue jeans, my ordinary grey t-shirt and my ordinary hairstyle (well…ish), in an area flooded with uniquely styled characters. OK, sometimes I wear something quite outlandish, and my sock collection is exquisite, but damn I felt ordinary in Hackney Wick.

Speaking of socks, how wonderful is the name of this local election candidate?

Sockalingam Yogalingam local election flyer

Sockalingam Yogalingam. Yes I am going to vote for him because I think his name is delightful. And I mean delightful in sincerity.

So back to my possible mid-life crisis that I am sure you are all delighted to be reading about. And I don’t mean delighted in sincerity. I do have some shiny green meggings. Maybe I should wear them more often. And green sequinned shoes. Maybe I should grow a mullet? Oh…been there done that. Maybe I should grow a Hitler moustache? Reclaim short width moustaches from the far-right.

That could be the answer to my possible mid-life crisis. Move into a warehouse, shave my hair off, grow a Hitler moustache and start spray-painting people’s possessions. Wearing my shiny green meggings. Or maybe I need some dungarees?

Row, row, row your boat

Anyway, so I’ve accidentally saved enough money for a house deposit thanks to the pandemic and also partly by persuading my guest for this review that not only am I greatly in admiration of veganism but also that I’m really good at my job, and hence my getting promoted last year. Yeah somehow I’m a senior software engineer, despite being pretty fucking clueless at my job just 3 years ago. Totally fucking clueless back then to be honest.

So I now have this house deposit and I’m like, actually nah I don’t want to pay £425,000 for a shitty new build one bedroom flat on Help To Buy, maybe I should just move to California. Or go on some tour of Europe before Putin gets his nukes out. Or move to Hackney Wick and spend all day meditating in canal-side bars whilst feeling vibes, man.

Grow is one of those canal-side bars, in some kind of warehouse building but the main part of it seems to be outside – part covered, part in the elements. Part even on a floating platform on the canal.

They have a vision and an ethos – I feel like 50% of my audience will be rolling their eyes, and the other 50% will be feeling emotional just hearing about it – you can read more about it here, but to steal a few snippets from them, they very much aim to be green – using eco-electricity; eco cleaning and recycled products. They want to look after their staff – paying London Living Wage.

They have sustainability and wellbeing at the core of what they do, and also quite a strong focus on culture – there are loads of events listed, from poetry to jazz, live music to house/disco – I imagine on a summer’s evening with some good music playing, that it is quite a dreamy feeling outside here, watching the world go by on the canal. Especially on ketamine.

And I liked the whole ramshackle feel to things, very much feels like the kind of place you’d find in Berlin, built up from the ground themselves. The beer choice was good, much from Signature Brewery who I am a big fan of, they were still using one of those ordering apps that appeared during covid and drinks came fairly quickly.

Now I’ve told you how much I really like the venue, it is time to tell you that the roast dinner came in a bowl.

And not just any bowl – but a paper bowl. With plastic cutlery. Urgh.

Grow, Hackney Wick, roast dinner and plastic cutlery.

Grow, grow, grow your bowl

Ahhh good old sustainability. I don’t know enough to tell you whether single-use paper bowls is more sustainable than having actual porcelain plates (bowls if you must) and using a dishwasher – I shall have to trust that Grow know more than I do on that measure.

However. I can tell you that it isn’t the most amazing presentation of a roast dinner. And anyone that has followed me on Twitter knows that I really do know how to present food badly.

We actually nearly couldn’t order a roast dinner as the ordering system had gone down – or the food part of it had. Maybe the chef needed a break and switched it off, and they just blamed technical issues. I work in tech. I know we are a perfect excuse.

Grow, Hackney Wick, Vegan roast dinner menu

Suppose I should show you the menu. One thing to note is that they use HG Walter meat – who’s meat is pretty damn excellent quality. Options for me were leg of lamb or chicken thighs, my vegan ex-boss went for the baked celeriac with chestnut stuffing. In one of the rare things that I apparently agree with Boris Johnson on, I love a thigh. And if that isn’t the best segue to a latest piece of Tory scumbaggery, then I don’t know what is.

Crap story from the Daily Mail about Angela Rayner.

“So, I know we are running the country with great incompetence, pledging to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, residing over a cost of living crisis, leaving the EU, lying about parties and generally being untrustworthy fucks – but her…her…she has a short skirt”.

Now, I’ve never voted Labour in my life and likely never will (unless it gets to a Le Pen vs Macron kind of stage here), but I will make a promise. If Kier Starmer turns up to PMQs this Wednesday in a short skirt to distract Boris Johnson, I promise that I will vote Labour in 2024 (or whenever the next General Election is).

Oh yeah, I ordered the chicken thighs, at £12.00. Which I thought was ridiculously cheap. Until the paper bowl turned up.

Grow up and grow green

Wanna see it again?

Grow, Hackney Wick, roast dinner.  In a paper bowl.

I did know that their roast dinner was going to come in a bowl, but I was expecting something closer to what they advertise on their website – you know, a non-paper bowl:

Grow, Hackney Wick, roast dinner according to their website - not in a paper bowl.

There’s quite a difference between what I was served and what was advertised, isn’t there? But anyway, maybe it tasted amazing. Maybe…

Let’s start with the red cabbage. If you’ve read me before, then you’ll know red cabbage ain’t my thing. If you like it, you will like what they did here – the flavour was fully brought out, with the usual winter spices kicking along, and a slightly greasy feel. My accomplice really liked it. I don’t like red cabbage but I can appreciate that this was done well.

The carrots were pretty tough, like not fully roasted – or not roasted for long enough. Again, maybe you like them on the crunchy side. They did need longer in the oven, or whichever cooking appliance they had to hand.

There were a couple of parsnips too and they were ok. Again, a bit undercooked for my liking, and a tad bland to taste – bar the scraps of red cabbage that got everywhere.

And this is what it looked like when I poured the “gravy” on:

Grow, Hackney Wick, roast dinner with "gravy".

Grow grow gadget gravy

So the “gravy”, was basically a bowl of onions with some red wine ish flavoured water. And very little in the way of actual liquid – unless it had soaked into the paper bowl, which I guess is possible. I couldn’t discern much flavour – though the tiny bits of red cabbage infected pretty much every mouthful and overrode any over flavour elsewhere anyway.

I was aware that I wouldn’t be getting roast potatoes at Grow, which I can just about cope with – but only if the replacement is excellent. Tila in Deptford provided a gloriously creamy Pommes Anna as a replacement for roast potatoes – and if the standard is that good, then fine, I’ll accept you not doing roast potatoes. Because, let’s face it, most places are shit at roast potatoes.

And I had a bit of hope that the advertised harissa roasted new potatoes might be good. Alas. I only once noted the tiniest hint of harissa. The new potatoes were slightly crushed for some unknown reason, but more notably and moanably were quite dry inside.

Finally the chicken. This was actually quite good. Not entirely sure why it was already cut up for me in pulled-pork style – perhaps to make it look like there was even less? I guess I had one thigh’s worth of chicken, paltry poultry you could say – it was a bit overdone, but also it was quite nice.

Maybe the vegan offering was better? My accomplice described it as “low effort vegan” – basically some roasted celeriac with some chestnut stuffing. Shall I prolong your suffering with a photograph of it?

Grow, Hackney Wick, Vegan roast dinner

I feel like mine actually looked worse than the vegan one.

Grow, Hackney Wick. Go but not for a roast.

Now I love writing scathing reviews – but I hate it when it is a scathing review of an independent venue that I really liked.

I really, really liked the vibe here. Chilled, in the sunshine, next to the canal. Good choice of beers, people are interesting (in a good way), service was fine, bongos…well…maybe not the bongos. Without doubt, Grow is a great canal-side bar, with a real purpose to it.

But serving a roast dinner in a paper bowl? If Blacklock, the king of roast dinners, started serving their roast dinners in a paper bowl with plastic cutlery, I would howl in outrage. So the same applies here.


It’s hard to get the paper bowl and plastic cutlery out of my head and be objective about the food itself, but that was not up to standard either. The replacement for roast potatoes was dry, the carrots tough and the gravy just water with onions (same gravy for the vegan roast it seems). Though none of it particularly offended me – nothing was burnt or disgusting. Small mercies.

The only positive in terms of food was the chicken, but even that was limited in quantity and a little dried out. Perhaps it being £12.00 is a good thing – one of the cheapest roast dinners I’ve ever had, despite inflation. But I’d rather pay £21.00 and have a good roast dinner. ON A PLATE.

My accomplice scored it 4.25 out of 10 – though it should be noted that he believes 5 should be the average score, whereas around a 6.50 is average for me…I’m more on the football match player ratings system. That said, my score is a poor 4.95. If it weren’t for the paper bowl, it would still score below a 6.

Urgh. Sustainable, independent venue’s food offering crucified by some nobhead with a blog. Joy. This is not what I enjoy writing…even when I’m in a bad mood. Please do consider going here for an afternoon/evening – but don’t consider having their roast dinner bowl.

Next week, “big corporation/millionaire’s pub rated best roast dinner in London, by some nobhead with a blog”. It might actually happen. They’ve cancelled on me twice previously, but this is the one place on my to-do list that I think could better Blacklock. I’ve set expectations too high already, haven’t I?

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Grow, Hackney Wick

Station: Hackney Wick

Tube Lines: Overground

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £12.00

Rating: 4.95

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The vibe, atmosphere, outdoor area, canal-side location, music. Everything but the food.

Loathed: Food was served in a PAPER BOWL. With plastic cutlery. Gravy was onions with some red wine water on top, new potatoes were dry, carrots tough.

One response to “Grow, Hackney Wick

  1. Whatever the advantages of a paper bowl in the search for sustainability, plastic cutlery has no merit at all. It has to be chucked after use because you can never get it as clean as metal knives and forks. Just try loading the dishwasher with some for a demonstration. I am now left with a vision of marinated chicken thighs in green, for eco-friendly, meggings. Thank you.

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