Meet the pair behind Stoke Newington’s best kept secret
A sliding-doors encounter in Newington Green with a former school friend from Macedonia reignited a friendship through which one of Stokey’s most special restaurants was born.
Childhood friends Jana Miseva and Elena Smileva launched The Lacy Nook a year ago after raising £22,000 through a Kickstarter campaign – they also ploughed in all their savings and carried out much of the building work themselves.
It was a complete change of career for the pair: Jana ditched her life working in logistics with bands such as The Rolling Stones, U2 and Kings of Leon and Elena gave up her filming and editing career.
Tucked away on Cazenove Road, The Lacy Nook is arguably one of Hackney’s best kept secrets. Set over the ground and basement floor of a former bar, it’s pretty and ambient with plants hanging from wooden beams and has a stunning garden – and the food is receiving rave reviews.
“Being on a side street does make it difficult”, said Jana. “With so many restaurants on Church Street we have to work hard to get noticed. I’ve hand delivered hundreds of fliers and we’ve done some PR this summer. We’re very dependent on word-of-mouth.”
The menu, which changes with the seasons includes Mediterranean cuisine influenced by Jana and Elena’s home country of Macedonia and inspired by their travels. It’s a delicious fusion of Balkan, Middle Eastern and Asian flavours.
Some of the recipes, such as the Beef Cevapi (beef patties) and the baklava, have been passed down by Elena’s grandmother. Their sweet and savoury pancakes and ribs are among the most popular dishes. The restaurant sources as many local ingredients as possible including Mission Coffee (Clapton) and salads from Growing Communities.
“We’re serving the food we grew up with – real comfort food and people seem to really appreciate it”, added Jana.
“I’ve lived in Stoke Newington for 12 years and it has changed loads – it used to be a place where you couldn’t walk on your own at night – it was quite dangerous. It’s far more vibrant than it has ever been and there are far more places to go out.”
The Lacy Nook is open Tuesday-Sunday for evening meals and is also open for bunch (Thursday-Sunday). Members of the Local Buyers Club can save 20% off all dishes from the brunch menu (excluding drinks) from Thursday to Sunday.
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