Hannah Green’s Etta has firmly established itself as the vibrantly busy neighbourhood restaurant that she set out to create back in 2017. That feel of a local place, a bistro and wine bar, a community favourite is strong in Etta’s DNA, but so too are the crisp skills and wine expertise that Green forged working at Attica and other benchmark establishments.
Running at full clip, Etta can seat 80 in one sitting, but it’s very much a personal affair. Closed Monday and Tuesday, if you’re not greeted, checked in on or solely served by Green, then you’ve probably got the address mixed up.
The same is true of the food. It’s personal, too. So, when Green’s first business partner, and the chef, moved on, she needed the right fit. A chef that got the spirit of Etta, but one that would bring their own signature, and importantly cook wine-friendly food to match her impressive list.
Enter Charley Snadden-Wilson, who had just finished up at the much-missed Ramblr, as the Leonard’s House of Love crew were refitting the casual fine diner into a pizza-by-the-slice temple. That was never going to be Snadden-Wilson’s speed, who had previously done stretches at Embla and the Town Mouse under Dave Verheul.
Etta had always had a vegetable-centric philosophy. A vegetarian restaurant, no, not by a stretch, but it’s always elevated vegetables in equal measure. Snadden-Wilson’s menu still does that, but it also celebrates more substantial proteins. Fermenting, curing, smoking and cooking over fire are Snadden-Wilson signatures, but they are weaved into his dishes, rather than bullying the plates.
The space at Etta, a former fish and chip shop, with its warren of rooms now joined either physically or visually by architectural apertures, has a serene modernity to it, but stops short of feeling too fancy. Textured hard-plaster finishes, deeply hued wooden floors, black Thonet bentwoods, marble counters and an eclectic mix of pendant lights make up the picture. While dining may be a strong suit for Etta, the front bar section is part aperitivo and digestivo space and part wine bar, and an ideal spot for a glass or two of wine and a few small plates, or more than a few, if you like.
Green’s wine list alone is worthy of a visit to Etta, with the ever-cycling selection roving around the country and the world. Green’s background as a sommelier at such luminous gems as Ben Shewry’s Attica is on full show here, with an eclectic collection of wines that doesn’t fall into an easy category. Rather, hers is a list that prizes character, individuality, and the value of differing texture and flavour profiles to engage with food, and without, too.
COVID-19 conditions: The crew at Etta have decided to use the second lockdown as an opportunity to take a well-earned break and recharge the batteries. Check in again when the restrictions have lifted.