We have always felt that there’s been a kind of restaurant no man’s land between Broadway Market and Columbia Road, so our ears pricked up when we heard that the much loved, but a bit scraggy pub, The Marksman, on Hackney Road had been taken under the wing of former St. John chefs Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram, and who planned to offer up a historic London themed menu (think salt beef and mutton curry). We ambled along midweek and kicked off by pairing a negroni sharpener with some fat, juicy Lindisfarne oysters with sweet apple and tart pickled elderberries – a fresh, zingy change from our usual Tabasco/shallot pairing. Next, creamy, buttery, lightly grilled Megrim sole came with tangy, summery chopped tomatoes and sea purslane; chunky roast Tamworth pork was offset by hispi cabbage and dill that had a piquant kick, and grilled romaine lettuce; and the palio chic option of juicy chargrilled skirt steak came with chicory, anchovy and sweet roasted shallots. Super thinly sliced, layered, crispy potatoes can only be described as chips on steroids. Deliciously evil. We had room for pudding, so shared moreish, slightly soured buttermilk ice cream with fizzy, pickled yellow plums and crunchy, toasted oats; and a mousy, kind of candle waxey (in a good way) brown butter and honey tart. The menu might have changed, but the wood panelled walls and mahogany bar remain, zhushed up by leather banquettes. The feel is old school boozer with a gourmet twist – this ain’t no gastro ponceyness, just a low key local with serious culinary clout – exactly what we’re after.