Turning right at the top of Mare Street, it isn’t long before you encounter the elegant façade of The Square.

Nestled next to Hackney’s bijou Clapton Square, the restaurant, offering a menu packed with small, stylish dishes, feels right at home.

Having opened in the summer of 2020, The Square has undergone a reinvention of sorts over the past six months.

Hanen Ziad, who took over the restaurant last September, has brought in not one, but two new head chefs - Liam Bemrose and Joel Hopewell – with the aim of bringing “high quality food to a relaxed, neighbourhood setting”.

Enfield Independent: The menu has been created by chefs Liam Bemrose and Joel Hopewell The menu has been created by chefs Liam Bemrose and Joel Hopewell (Image: Alex Marsh)

The menu is also unorthodox – drawing from food found in places as far apart as Mexico, West Africa and Japan.

So far, Ziad said, she has really enjoyed the journey of “disrupting the typically male dominated industry”. 

The restaurant is hard to miss walking up Lower Clapton Road, its fairy lights twinkling in the dark.

Enfield Independent: The restaurant sits next to Clapton Square The restaurant sits next to Clapton Square (Image: Alex Marsh)

On a Friday night in March, it was well-attended, but not packed – the row of tables outside hint at its popularity with the summer crowd.

Our waiter said The Square had gained a good following among the locals, pointing out a couple of tables of regulars dotted around the restaurant.

He was happy to talk us through the menu and advised us to order at least six dishes between two.

Even the smaller starting dishes we chose give a sense of the global reach of the restaurant’s menu – from Italy (Focaccia, ricotta, abbamele) to Japan (Aburi trout, pine nut, nori) to something closer to home (chips, brown butter, baron bigod).

Enfield Independent: The restaurant offers a twist on a British classicThe restaurant offers a twist on a British classic (Image: Alex Marsh)

The ‘chips’, The Square’s own twist on a British classic, served as three large potato strips and coated in a brie-style cheese, were the standout.

Following these starters were two larger dishes – roasted courgette, lovage chimichurri, harissa and oyster mushroom, celeriac broth, Jerusalem artichoke – and a side of roasted leeks, confit garlic and parmesan.

The broth was the perfect antidote to a less-than-warm winter evening, and the mushroom provided a meatier substance to the meal amid the greens.

The dishes, which I would recommend washing down with a spicy margarita or two, disappear quickly – testament to both their enticing flavours and small size.

Enfield Independent: Spicy margarita - not mandatory, but very much recommended Spicy margarita - not mandatory, but very much recommended (Image: Alex Marsh)

Dessert was needed and, as you would expect, the chocolate mousse with blood orange and crème fraiche ice cream was delicious.

It certainly felt more decadent than the other dessert – poached rhubarb, puffed rice, coffee and vanilla – but it’s good to have a healthier option, I suppose.

The beauty of the menu, which prides itself on being hyper-seasonal, is that it is constantly being updated.

This means that I could return in a few months’ time, and get an entirely different culinary experience, albeit still under the watchful eyes of chefs Liam and Joel.

The pair met while working at Akoko in Fitzrovia, which recently won a Michelin star.

They have honed their craft at popular Hackney restaurants, Cycene and Cornerstone, before taking on the challenge of the ever-evolving menu at The Square.

Their pedigree does come at a cost however – larger dishes range between £12 and £20, and you would need at least a couple to not be left with a growling stomach.  

But with great food and a relaxed vibe, it’s unlikely the restaurant will remain a hidden gem for much longer.

If you are searching for me this summer, you can find me on a table outside 19 Lower Clapton Road, spicy margarita in hand.