East End market traders Adam Bernstein and Ben Murtagh dreamed of escaping the cold and pursuing their passion for food and coffee.
Now they run Bernstein’s, one of Clapton’s most popular bars – bringing a taste of Jewish and Middle Eastern cuisine and East London’s finest beers and spirits to Chatsworth Road.
Adam, who used to co-run Victorian-inspired street food business What the Dickens, said: “By 2015 I was beginning to get a bit sick of the markets and having to be outdoors in all weathers and I wanted to do more around the food I grew up with.
“I had a dream of opening a deli serving pickled herring and other appetitsers; the type of food you’d find in a Jewish food parlour where people buy ready-to-eat food on Saturdays, when they’re not allowed to cook. But when we found the place on Chatsworth Road I knew that wouldn’t’ work – the street needed a place to have a drink and a small bite to eat.”
He and Ben, who ran a coffee stall called Black Box, have created their dream bar/restaurant, where you can have a few drinks and order plates of food to share. Adam’s mother Bobbie makes her legendary cheesecakes for the restaurant and the Bernstein family photos hang on the walls.
Bernstein’s opened in October, Adam works as head chef recreating his grandmother’s recipes and managing to create magnificent food from a tiny, open kitchen whilst chatting to customers.
Adam’s great grandparents moved here from Poland and Romania, his grandparents lived in Spitalfields: “They had a good life”, he said. “Even when they were really poor, they were happy, the Jewish community was very close, everyone knew everyone and they all helped each other.”
Bernstein’s is open for brunch and dinner (or just drinks). The menu includes salt beef, which has been cured in house, shakshuka (eggs poached in tomatoes with lamb sausages), scrambled eggs, fish, charcuteries and cheese, soups and stews.
They’re one of dozens of East End businesses to offer discounts to members of the Local Buyers Club (10% off alcoholic drinks and cold soft drinks).