Ali Emran, left, and his staff © Social Streets C.I.C

Eato: mocktails, grills and colourful burgers

Eato is the new family-friendly, East End grill and burger joint that pays homage to Bengali curry house traditions in its own way. 

If you’ve walked past the centre section of the high street recently, you may have noticed that 431 Roman Road, which was previously The Best of India, has a new occupant, Eato,

With an interior that combines comfy green cushioned seats and rustic exposed-brick patterned walls, Eato is a halal-friendly grill and burger joint that takes after the great American diner tradition, but with its own East End flair. 

Ali Emran, Eato’s founder, grew up around the multifaceted food scenes of Brick Lane, and the influences sneak their way into the restaurant.

Their popular ‘Eato Signature’ burger, for instance comes with a ‘special sweet and sour sauce’ inspired by Emran’s favourite childhood Bengali curry house.

‘I used to love this restaurant as a kid called “Sweet and Spice” in Brick Lane. It was one of the early, traditional Bengali curry houses and they had this signature curry sauce that was sour and sweet, and it was so good. Those are traditional Bengali flavours and this sauce is inspired by that.’

Emran advises on the ‘big picture’ aspects of Eato, but the day to day running of the restaurant here and their second branch in Chadwell Heath are managed by his business partners, who are also his childhood friends. 

‘We’re a group of childhood friends who look after this place,’ says Emran. ‘I grew up around the Bethnal Green area, on Chicksand Estate.’ 

‘All of the food culture there made up a large part of how we spent our time when we were young.’

He still lives in Bethnal Green, but chose to open his restaurants further east, attracted by the more affordable real estate and the high numbers of families that live in this area. 

‘Growing up, we would come east here on the weekends to go down to the market, and Victoria Park is a great place to go.’

The menu  includes classic fares that you might find at a diner, including hotdogs, steak and burgers.

They source their meat nearby, at the HMC (Halal Monitoring Committee) approved Al Badiya in Deptford, which is flavoured with their in-house spice mix. 

Even though it’s a classic burger joint, Emran’s Bangladeshi heritage can be found throughout. 

‘There’s a rice option on the menu that uses a bean seed that is native to Bangladesh.’

The grill doesn’t serve alcohol,  instead offering a selection of mocktails.

‘I didn’t want alcohol on the menu because I want this to be a family-friendly environment. Yes, part of the reason is because of my faith, but largely it is because that isn’t the atmosphere I want.’

After all, ‘Eato is very much a reflection of me, says Emran. 

Instead, their selection of mocktails include everything from a virgin mojito to tropical flavours like lychee and mango. Emran’s personal favourite is strawberry. 

‘In most restaurants you always get just the one mocktail option, but I wanted non-alcoholic drinks to be their own thing.’

And befitting their colourful interiors and family-friendly appeal, they also offer dyed burger buns in a variety of colours.

What was the inspiration behind that idea? ‘I wanted to create a fun place for families, a place where the kids can get excited about.’

Eato is currently open on 431 on Roman Road and is available on JustEat for delivery, and they will soon be available on Deliveroo.

If you like this article you might also like to read about Cafe East: ‘A taste of east London’

 


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