Tasty boost for Dalston’s never-quite-hip square

Gillett Square Dalston mirror tiles Hackney N16 8JH 220814 © David Altheer

* UPDATE 160716: The restaurant has not been attracting enough customers so owner Byron Knight is drawing on his time as a co-founder of Beavertown Brewery to establish a microbrewery in a corner of Pond’s large interior. A tap room in which people can drink the ales on site will be featured. Producing craft beer in NE London is a crowded business niche. But Knight has some experience


ALOHA! The troubled Gillett Square project is about to be given welcome succour by, of all things, a Hawaiian restaurant.

Byron Knight, one of the businesspeople behind Off Broadway, Beavertown Brewery, Duke’s Brew and Que, is busy supervising the fitting-out of a large premises at the end of an alley on the northwestern edge of the square.

Pond Dalston will, he says, be a resto offering “New Hawaiian Cuisine” when it opens around the end of this month, August 2014.

The old cuisine must have passed most of us by – the new, he says, means whole catfish with citrus ponzu, charcoal avocado with macadamia salted coconut cream and pork with pickleback slaw. The dishes come from Hawaii’s

Pond Dalston resto, Stamford Works, 3 Gillett St Dalston N16 8JH 220814 © David Altheer
Reflections: the enchanting mirror tiles in Gillett Square, Dalston, top, and, above, head chef Frog Wong at what builders are busy turning into a shiny new venue just off the piazza

main immigrant communities, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino, but here cooked in a European way.

Seafood dominates the menu but Loving Dalston is told that despite its fleshy look vegetarians, and Muslims and Jews, will not go hungry. Let’s hope for the sake of for head chef Frog Wong they don’t all turn up to the same Saturday-night sitting.

General manager Rian Holland tells Loving Dalston that Knight discovered Hawaiian food when he lived in America’s 50th state and noticed the fusion of different cultures and their food.

Holland says: “It produced a good mix, just as it did in Indonesia when the Dutch were there.

“Byron took the cuisine back to the US and now he’s bringing it across the ‘Pond’, hence the name.

Somehow the the Pacific has been overlooked in that narrative, but never

Barbican Centre's Dance Nation 190714, incl South Africa’s Mahotella Queens at Gillett Square, Dalston N16 8JH © david.altheer@gmail.com
South Africa’s Mahotella Queens at the square for the Barbican’s Dance Nation July 2014

mind, a restaurant with at least 60 places will be a boost for the square if scenesters take to it.

Almost 10 years of support from local business organisations, a short-lived link called the Dalston Hub and lately help from the Barbican have failed to overcome the area’s image as a haven for derelict people.

Robert Beckford of Dalston Jazz Bar, which abuts the square, told a newspaper last year 2013that that the square had drawn more crime and that his venue had been burgled often.

The promoters have announced Pond as “London’s first New Hawaiian Restaurant”, which is pushing it. Mahiki, anyone?

Rian Holland @ fitting-out of Pond Dalston resto, Stamford Works, 3 Gillett St Dalston N16 8JH 220814 © David Altheer
Manager: Rian Holland

Still, businesses in Gillett Square will be hoping that Pond goes… well, swimmingly. And if it does, “the plan,” says Holland, “is to open another Pond in the US”.

David Altheer 230814 

* Pond Dalston restaurant, Stamford Works, Gillett Street Dalston N16 8JH (020 3772 6727)

* Backstory: Can jazz give cred to Gillett Square?

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