The scene The pop-up purveyors of seafood, prosecco and thumb wars are hunkering down in Hackney’s ultra-adorable Brew For Two cafe every Friday through Sunday in May, so now’s the time to pay a visit and try to win yourself a Mussel Men T-shirt by taking on the sizable appendages of helmsman Captain Bob.

Robin Dunlop (the cap’n) has taken his experience of working on a family-owned shellfish farm on Scotland’s west coast and given it a hipster twist, serving up top-notch Shetland mussels and then an optional thumb war (inside a mini boxing ring built just for the purpose, no less) at the meal’s end.

Brew For Two is a great little spot for the Mussel Men to have dropped anchor, too – a cutesy candlelit corner wedged incongruously between the area’s myriad kebab shops.  

The grub Menu options are refreshingly limited – there’s oysters to start, mussels and frites for mains and waffles for dessert. (Removing the half-hour “umm” and “aaah” ritual before I’m able to decide on an order is genuinely freeing – I’ve always treated meal selection with the gravest, and apparently most maddening, of gravity.)

%TNT Magazine% laura chubb mussel men
TNT’s Laura post-thumb war defeat at the hands of Captain Bob

My date and I start with an oyster each. They’re almost alarmingly large fleshy beasts – any bigger and I’d be seriously sceptical they could physically fit down even my huge gob – and pack enough sea-salty flavour to need only a squirt of lemon for garnish. The mussels are similarly simple – we get a kilo in the classic marinière, which makes a subtle accompaniment, and the golden, thin-cut fries are just as you’d hope for.

After all that, we’re completely stuffed, but make room for a waffle with strawberries and chocolate sauce, which hits exactly the right note of a sweet finish without any overwhelming heft.

Behind the bar Wine from £5/ £25 per glass/ bottle. Cocktails from £5.

Bill please Meal deal for two (1kg of mussels with chips, a bottle of prosecco and a waffle with fruit, ice cream and chocolate sauce) is £40.

Verdict Uncomplicated fast food with a side of lunacy. We like. 

%TNT Magazine% stars 4

101 Morning Lane, E9 6ND  
Station | Hackney Central