Morning people and night people. Pirouettes and podcasts in the morning vs a series of failed walk-and-turn sobriety tests and toothpaste contouring. You’re one or the other, and restaurants are the same. Good in the day, but less so at night, or vice versa.
Pophams is different though. It’s a perfectly Hackney-fied industrial bakery that’s just as good at 7:30am as it is at 9:00pm. From excellent coffee and silence-inducing pastries, to lunchtime toasties that soak away the night before, to fine handmade pasta in the evening. In fact, you can actually timeline the Pophams experience.
7:40am - 7:42am
You arrive at (rather than stumble out of) a whitewashed warehouse space 10 minutes from Hackney Central. Pophams is a bakery, café, and all-round photogenic venue. It’s full of long shared tables dotted with morning types.
7:43am - 7:45am
Head straight to the ice cold water taps and scout out the room. The kitchen is bigger, shinier, and nicer than most London rentals. If Noel Fielding had creative control over Bake Off, it would end up being filmed in Pophams. The co-host would probably be an animate Glaswegian sourdough starter called Jasper. Or a talking Smeg. Stop it. You’re daydreaming. You need to order.
7:48am - 7:50am
The counter is all curved wood and tiles and coffee contraptions. It’s a graphic designer’s Pinterest board. Get a coffee. It’s from Ozone and it’s good. Look at the pastry board: sweet and savoury. Order one/some.
7:55am - 9:20am
A ham and cheese croissant arrives at your table. So does a bacon and maple pastry. The pastry is salty and sweet. It’s swirled and glistening. It would mesmerise you if it wasn’t already being digested. The croissant is a mess. A brilliant, heavy, gooey mess. Eyes glance back over to the pastry board.
9:21am - 9:22am
Your stomach performs an impromptu rumble of Give It To Me Baby by Rick James.
9:23am - 9:24am
Powerful forces beyond your control are at work. Suddenly: standing, walking, ordering an almond croissant. Your stomach begins to hum Thank You by Dido. Its music taste is questionable, but its pastry judgement is not.
9:30am - 10:59am
The room is in full morning swing. People are catching up over coffee. Emails are being sent. Meetings are meeting over a Marmite and cheese swirl. You wonder about the ins and outs of squatters’ rights.
11:00am - 3:59pm
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Pophams shuts at 4pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. From Wednesday to Sunday it opens for handmade pasta in the evening. So leave and go to the pub. Have a nap. Do whatever.
6:01pm - 6:05pm
Come back to Pophams for dinner. Note that none of the friendly members of staff have commented on you sitting outside for two hours. They are nice.
6:10pm - 6:30pm
What was airy and bright in the day becomes intimate and candlelit at night. The long tables are now shared by people who look like they’re ready to be cast in a Noah Baumbach film. Start with the pickled vegetable salad. Don’t let any of the anchovy dip go to waste. It’s worth cleaning the plate for. Especially as portions aren’t huge here, and the menu is only four pastas deep.
6:45pm - 7:30pm
Everyone is chatting, sharing tables, and eating pasta. Is this heaven? No, there’s a disheveled pigeon tapping on the window outside. It’s Hackney. The cappellacci with tomatoes and lovage is first place on the podium. Then it’s the taleggio cappelletti. These two are must orders, and the ’nduja scarpinocc isn’t far behind. Leave the tortellini to the pigeon.
7:45pm - 8:00pm
Semifreddo, peach, and crunchy croissant bits. It would be rude not to. The cheese isn’t bad either. You eat pretty much everything and drink wine for around £50 each. It’s time to go home now.
8:05pm - 8:15pm
Seriously, go. You can come back whenever. Alone in the day. With a friend or two later on. Don’t worry. Pophams is good morning or night.
If you like pineapple on pizza, or salt and sweet popcorn, then you’ll like this. If you don’t like either, you’ll probably still like it.
A thing that can only be described by possessing the mind of football pundit. Filth. A unit. A top, top, top croissant.
Yep, we’ll have one of these everyday for the rest of our life if that’s okay.
A crispy, fruity, and creamy delight. One for the sugar heads.
The umami person’s swirl. It’s not quite as moist as the bacon and maple, but if you’re a Marmite on toast person, this is for you.
One to have with wine. Or, like us, eat half of and dip into houmous at home whilst drinking more wine. Don’t tell us we aren’t helpful.
This is the number one pasta. Full of those tomatoes that are actual tomatoes that people love to talk about. If you eat one, eat this one.
Saucy and spicy. The nduja is a little too overbearing, like an Oxbridge student describing anything to you. It’s still nice though.
These are in essence liquid cheese parcels. And if that doesn’t excite you then don’t order them. If it does then you’re going to be very happy.
The lone disappointment. The tortellini is a little too chewy and the pig cheek is lost. We’re not sure where it’s gone, but it isn’t here.
This dessert has an oddly restrained amount of pastry on it. Which is strange considering it’s what they do, but what makes it onto the plate is nice enough.