Behind the scenes at Tonkotsu – and an opening discount code!

In just a few days the wait will be over.

No, not (sadly) the end of COVID and winter lockdowns.

But the long-rumoured and eagerly-awaited 12th Tonkotsu restaurant will be finally be opening in Walthamstow! Instagram will be on fire with pictures of steaming ramen bowls!

Obviously it’s going to be open just for delivery and ‘click and collect’ for now. But they (like every other restaurant in the UK!) hope to be able open for dine-in early in December.

Around 3,000 lucky locals signed up to get a £5 voucher, so there should be literally bus loads of people hoping to try it out next weekend. For anyone that missed out on the voucher there is 15% off Click & Collect orders over £20. The code for that is NOVCC15 and is valid until the end of December.

I’m guessing the menu is going replicate the click and collect menu available at their other nearby restaurants – so should include classic meat and vegan ramen bowls with their home-made stock and 3 types of noodles, chicken and courgette katsu curry, various gyoza, and a couple of lighter noodle salad options, plus ice-cream desserts, some interesting beers, cocktails and sake.

Anyway, to get your peek inside, here’s some pics of the build for you!


Unit 4, 202 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 4BS

0208 520881

Google maps

Hours: Mon – Sun: 12.00pm – 10.00pm

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There are so many wonderful Walthamstow cafes that we can’t wait to get back to after lockdown.

I’m dreaming of spending whole mornings lingering over runny egg and avocado toasts, crispy bacon sandwiches in fresh sourdough, a whole array of flaky croissants, luscious cakes, pots of tea and dreamy cappuccinos.

So, instead of going out, we’ve updated the Cafe page – for some inspiration take a look here

See you all soon!

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Vegan cakes in the Stow

We were recently asked by a new walthamstower for any recommendations for finding vegan cake. That set us thinking, and this is what we came up with. Join in if you can add any more…

All the food, including all the cakes at the Hornbeam Cafe and Bodega 50 cafe at the Bakers Arms end of Hoe Street are vegan.

The Jonuts at Wood St Coffee at Blackhorse Workshops look amazing. There’s a choice of vegan cake stalls at Lloyd Park Market on Saturdays, and the Caribbean cake stall on the Sunday Farmers Market is vegan.

There are vegan muffins, sandwiches charcoal croissants and pastries at Oasis Cafe on Hoe Street.

Wayne’s Coffee near Walthamstow Central also offer a vegan croissant. Buhler & Co. Cafe at Bell Corner is a good bet too. And finally Orford Saloon Tapas and Deli in the village have a carrot polenta cake.

“Let them eat vegan cake!”

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Lovely Laksa – Sambal Shiok, Holloway Road, N7

I’ve been longing to visit Sambal Shiok ever since Mandy Yin converted an old betting shop and brought her Malaysian flavours to the Holloway Road. In June 2018 after 5 years of street food markets and pop-ups Sambal Shiok opened a Laksa bar restaurant which soon had out-of-the-door queues every evening. So when they started opening for Saturday brunch we were in there.

Really – spicy Laksa soup for brunch?! This was the first reaction from the friends I invited. But a cold January morning is possibly the best time to feast on fiery-hot, shrimp and coconut broth. At 11.30am we joined the queue outside waiting for the restaurant to open and by 12pm it was full.

There are starters – Malaysian standards including deep-fried chicken, gado gado salad, and fenugreek crackers and Nasi Lemak rice dishes. But we were there for the Laksa. We dived straight into steaming hot bowls of curry soup packed with fat rice noodles, beansprouts, green beans and puffed tofu soaking up all the delicious flavours. The Standard is only £9.30, but I opted for the Special – topped with poached chicken and prawns (£13.80). The Laksa soup is powerful, vibrant and so chilli hot it smacks you round the face. Fortunately you can order medium and staff will kindly offer coconut cream to tone things down a bit if you can’t handle the heat. They also offer a vegan shrimp-free Laksa soup base alternative with aubergine and fried potatoes.

The other Walthamstowfoodie is avoiding coconut, so opted for the Assam Laksa (£12). This is a spicy, sour and fruity soup flavoured with galangal, lemongrass and tamarind, and loaded with rice noodles, mackerel, cucumber and fresh leafy herbs. Another triumphant dish, but only opt for this if you really like a fishy flavoured soup.

We sweated and slurped until we all slumped. There were murmurs of pandan pancakes topped with coconut, but we passed on dessert. We had conquered the Laksa!

Sambal Shiok, 171 Holloway Road, N7 8LX

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Momona Eritrean Cafe

We’ve been raving over on Instagram about Momona Cafe on Hoe Street ever since they opened in July 2019 (opposite Yard Sale). There’s no website or Google listing, it’s not that kind of place.

In a quiet, unpretentious setting (ex-barber shop) the young, friendly Eritrean team have set up a small but wonderfully authentic cafe. Coffee and tea are only £1-1.50. But the reason to go is for the Injera, a fermented, spongy pancake served cold. It has a vinegary sourdough tang and becomes addictive.

A vegetarian or vegan platter costs £7-8, will feed 2 people, and gives you the chance to try a range of dishes served on a giant Injera plate. Often it includes spinach, spicy berbere red lentils (tibsi), milder comforting yellow lentils, and ground chickpea (shiro), cabbage and green beans, and always a salad. The idea is to rip a bit of bread off, scoop up the stew and devour. It’s a messy, finger-licking affair – traditionally you feed the other person!!

It’s mainly vegetarian or vegan, but there’s definitely some breakfast egg dishes and possibly some meat dishes too. Everything is cooked fresh on-site (I think) and changes daily. If there’s no staff there when you go in they will be in the back kitchen cooking. Be patient, take a seat, don’t go if you are in a rush – good things take a while.

They’re open 7 days a week, from something like 9am to 10pm. Go now while you can still get a table.

Momona Cafe (on the corner, no signage) 46 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17.

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Doffles! – SpiceBox Weekend Brunch


The Full Indian incl. Doffles!

Indian breakfasts are a thing of beauty – spicy, rich and delicious, a perfect start to a lazy weekend, or cure for a hangover. Traditionally along with curries and dhal there’s steamed rice idlis, dosa pancakes, puris and parathas filled with spicy potato and fiery coconut relishes to wake up your taste buds.

And now thanks to SpiceBox the vegan curry house on Hoe Street E17, these flavours are cooked up in Walthamstow every weekend. Luckily for us, after doing street food markets, festivals and pop-ups since 2016, the CEO – Grace finally found a permanent home for SpiceBox in Walthamstow.

This was our first visit for brunch – served every Saturday & Sunday 10am – 3pm.  The menu features a range of sweet and spicy options. It all sounded delicious, but after some indecision, we eventually chose the ‘South Indian Brunch Thali’ (£12.50). It is a bowl of creamy cashew and coconut korma with butternut squash and cauliflower, and SpiceBox’s award-winning tarka dhal, with paratha bread and pickles. It was delicious and oddly will suit British weather – hot and sunny mornings or cold, wet and grey weekends. This is comfort food.  


We also shared the double stack of crispy brunch ‘doffles’ (pic at the top) – SpiceBox invention of dosa-waffles made from a fermented batter of lentil and rice flour, served up with the ‘Full Indian’ (£12) – curried jackfruit beans and crispy bombay potatoes and coconut sambol. If this wasn’t enough we added, out of sheer curiosity, a portion of ‘Parsi Eggs’ (£2) – spicy scrambled organic Okara – which is basically tofu-whey. It’s the watery soy bean pulp left over after making tofu. This was a first for me, but apparently is part of traditional cooking in Japan, China and Korea. I’ve enjoyed soft scrambled tofu before, but this reminded me more of the Spanish Migas fried breadcrumb dish. Is was spicy and crunchy,  and went well with the smokey beans. 


For drinks we tried the Limca – a traditional Indian lime and lemonade, and a boozy brunch special, an invigorating Spicy Mary. Overall – although neither of us are vegan, there’s no doubt this is quite special cooking. The use of spices really brings out the flavours in the vegetables, and it’s surprisingly filling. It’s got to be one of the best brunch options in the Stow right now – so go try it!


Spice Box: 58 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 4PG. 0208 521 0906

Dinner bookings taken – Tues – Sun – 5.30pm – 10pm ish (closed Mon)
Brunch is walk in only – Sat/Sun – 10am – 3pm



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Lloyd Park Market

Today the new Saturday market at Lloyd Park launched into action. Despite the wind and rain it was packed with stalls and shoppers sampling and scoffing. There’s a coffee stall and a delicious juice bar…

And tasty cakes and bakes…

There’s street food, vegan pizza and a @signaturebrew bar…

And fresh pasta, cheese, veggies and biltong!

Every Saturday 10am – 4pm

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Beautiful Burgers and Brilliant Beers … yummm!


We’ve been waiting eagerly for the opening of The Collab. Ever since Grillstock, Yum Yum Thai and Ekco cocktail bar departed last year, that bit of Hoe Street, E17 has been looking particularly depleted. So the collaboration of local craft beers from Leyton’s Signature Brew and specialist burgers from We Serve Humans sounded promising.

We went to try it out last week, and although The Collab has only been open a few weeks it already it feels like a smooth operation. Grillstock’s massive meat smoker has been removed and the bar’s been pushed back giving the restaurant more table space. Apart from that, the decor remains – stripped-back pine, bare concrete, steel and street art, with a great open kitchen to watch the burger magic happen!

Behind the bar there’s 16 beers on tap including Signature Brew’s award-winning beers straight from the brewery. I sampled the deliciously fresh, hints of grapefruit, Roadie IPA – £5 a pint. There’s also Studio Pilsner, Backstage IPA and Nightliner coffee porter. If that wasn’t enough there’s guest beers from other local breweries and further afield, as well as wine, spirits, and fridges full of cans and alcohol-free options, plus local Perky Blenders coffee.

So, on to the food. We Serve Humans is headed up by Paul Human, a lovely friendly soul wandering around overseeing the kitchen and bar on our visit. Paul is passionate about his food and can explain in detail the ingredients in the house sauces or how the kimchi is made. And because of this enthusiasm and dedication to good food they’ve won awards including winner of best Buffalo Wings at WingFest 2017.

We started with the Southern Style wings (£6.50) marinated in ’12 secret spices’ with a choice of sauce. They are so good, ever-so crispy and not at all greasy. The sauce we chose was the ‘Humans Own Hot Sauce’ – damn it’s HOT! but also delicious, and dangerously addictive with fermented flavours of Scotch Bonnet chilli peppers.

Next we ploughed into the burgers. A good burger is a thing of beauty – and the award-winning ‘End of Democracy’ – beef, loaded with cheese, chuck and shoulder chilli-con-carne and jalepenos (£11) was probably the best burger we’ve ever tucked into. A finger-licking mess, but in a good way – like “OMG this tastes amazing”, rather than “Oh I have sauce pouring down my arm!” The bursting flavours of the beef and the chilli are amazing – not a battle of the sauces found in some overloaded burgers.

For the chicken burger we picked ‘The V2’ – a spicy rocket of a burger – buttermilk fried chicken thigh, combining the spicy Buffhello hot sauce (used in the famous Buffalo Hot Wings), and a blue cheese topping (£9.50). Using thigh meat gave it a tasty, sweet chicken flavour, and it was another saucy, delicious dish. They offer gluten free buns, vegan and veggie options, and dairy free alternatives for the buns and cheese too.
All the sides came in a large, enamel tin-full serving. We chose sides of a tasty beetroot House Slaw, simply dressed in vinaigrette and crunchy sunflower seeds (£3.50) and fries – Truffle fries for the vegans (£4) and Dripping for the meat-eaters (£3.50), both hot, crispy and completely moreish.

The only downside? – no desserts as far as we could see and a chocolate brownie would have been the perfect finish with a Perky Blenders coffee.

The Collab is open for just drinks, snacks or full meals, every day lunch til late with the kitchen open til 10pm (9pm on Sun.)

The Collab, 198 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4BF

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Dinner on the Victoria Line

For 50 years the Victoria Line has been carrying weary commuters to and fro, from Walthamstow to central London and beyond. Over the years I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch on the move underground – but never dinner on the tube. That changed this week as we headed to the Tube Train Underground Supperclub, housed in a decommissioned Victoria line train carriage at the Pump House Museum in Walthamstow.Head chef Beatriz (Bea) Maldonado Carreno originally comes from Bogotá Colombia, and has worked in restaurants and supperclubs across South America and in London, developing her recipes and skills. She was most recently at Corazón – a renowned Mexican restaurant in Soho. Now this local chef is whipping up a wonderful six-course, Colombian inspired menu right here in Walthamstow. We love Colombian food and often enjoy weekends down at the Cafe Pueblito Paisa in Seven Sisters Latin American market. We’re used to big flavours, multiple carbs, lots of frying and BBQ-ing, and large portions. But this was a whole different style – Colombian fine dining.We kicked off the evening’s set Tasting Menu (£48 a seat) with a welcome drink. After the walk down to St James’ from Walthamstow Central and the challenge of finding and climbing into a tube train I happily downed a well-mixed Negroni, the other Walthamstowfoodie opted for an alcohol-free elder flower spritz. They have a ‘small’ and an extended ‘big’ drinks list, with prosecco and wine starting at £7 a glass and £19 a bottle. The house white and red were both delicious by the glass, although I never found out what they were.
First up was ‘Mousse de Alcachofa’ – a light and delicate artichoke mousse on guasca crackers. My Google search revealed that ‘guasca’ is a herb popular in Colombia with an artichoke-like flavour. However my Ecuadorian friend was explaining it is the type of oil used in the cracker … so who knows!
Next were the smallest ‘Arepas’ I have ever seen! Usually these hearty, Colombian street food staple are white corn flat bread stuffed or served with meat, cheese, egg, or beans. Here they were delicately topped with avocado, black beans, queso fresco (south american fresh cheese similar to feta) and tomato relish. Bea has turned messy, finger-licking street food into beautiful, Instagram-able dishes. But I was stunned by the drizzled sauce, Bea explained it was her twist on Hogao – a Colombian staple used like sofrito in almost every Colombian dish. It is simply tomatoes, onions and garlic to which she has added chipotle chilli.
Next we moved on to ‘Posta Negra’ – slices of Colombian style med rare rump of beef, served with a South American parsley and garlic chimichurri, and sweet balsamic glazed plantains. It was quite possibly the best beef I have ever tasted. Amazing flavour, served hot enough, yet the texture was so soft. It was completely moreish, I could have eaten a plateful and was regretting Bea’s efforts to make Instagramm-able fine dining plates. This was our favourite dish of the evening.
Following this was ‘Moqueca’ – a coconut and red pepper soupy sauce with steamed mussels, cod, prawns and squid served with coconut rice. The flavours in the soup were rich and the fish and seafood was all cooked perfectly, but I think it would have been better if they had been cooked in the sauce to create for of a fishy-flavoured soup like a bouillabaisse.
Then we were served an extra pre-dessert palate-cleanser 5th course a shot of a fiery lime & ginger granita.
Finally the 6th course dessert was ‘Bananos en Tentacion’ – another traditional Colombian and South American dish smartened up by Bea. This was bananas caramelised in orange and cinnamon, served on banana bread with coconut cream, crunchy granola and a spoon of refreshing orange water ice. Others stayed on drinking the night away, but we were well-fed and satisfied and of home. This proved to be a seriously tasty Colombian night out – highly recommended for a treat or special occasion, (although unfortunately not mobility accessible). Go to experience new flavours, lovely service and a novel night out in Walthamstow.

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The Village pub – all refurbished and looking good

This week we were invited to try out the new menu at The Village pub on Orford Road in Walthamstow village. It’s a few years since we’ve been in there. The pub was recently closed for three weeks for a big refurbishment and now it’s looking great. The whole place, including the little snug at the back, has been painted and updated; new lighting, bar stripped back and the floors done, but they’ve tried to make sure the traditional pub feel was maintained.

The biggest change and improvement is in the garden. The beer garden out back now has a non-smoking raised terrace proving wheelchair access. Then a few steps down take you to loads of open air tables, and a couple of covered seating areas. The centre piece on chilly evenings is a massive, log-burning fire-pit.

The friendly managers Carl and Tom, and their team behind the bar, were doing a great job keeping the customers happy in a packed pub on a Saturday night. As a free-house, there’s a rack of craft ale taps and a wide range of wines, beers and softies – though they could do with stocking some more interesting softies such as Fentimans, or Square Root Soda from Hackney.  We went for a pint of Beavertown Gamma Ray an easy drinking, juicy American pale ale brewed in Tottenham and a Pepsi. Surprisingly there’s a trusting, open beer fridge in the pub where you help yourself to a glass and a beer then go and pay at the bar. Happily this includes a couple of alcohol-free beers and an Old Mout cider.

The menu has been over-hauled too, and there’s some week night burger special deals and a lunchtime offer of a drink and a main for £6.

​On Saturday night we’d had a busy day so we deserved some classic pub comfort food. We chose the House Burger and Fish and Chips. The burger came as described – a deliciously thick  beef pattie in a pretzel bun (I’m so sick of sweet brioche buns ruining a decent burger).  It was generously topped with smokey bacon, Bourbon BBQ sauce, and Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, red onion and lettuce served with chips – £11.00. Well cooked, messy in a lick-your-fingers kind of way, and very tasty.

The fish and chips was crispy battered fish (not sure what fish it was), chips and mushy peas.  Again it was a tasty, good sized plate of food for only £11. There’s bar snacks, veggie and vegan dishes, nachos sharing platters, desserts and a kids menu too. Heartily recommend for an evening in the beer garden or a relaxing weekend burger and beer.

The Village, 31 Orford Road, Walthamstow Village, London E17 9NL 0208 521 4398, we’re always happy to hear from you.



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Spice Box – vegan curry heaven


Last week we were invited to try out the new SpiceBox 100% vegan curry house in Hoe Street, Walthamstow. After visiting the previous owner’s burrito take-away shop, we were amazed at the transformation of such a tiny space. Spice Box owner, Grace Regan, has designed the interior herself to create a colourful, modern curry house – and the decor is lovely, bright and very pink (so forgive the pink-tinged photos!). It feels quite summery with a concrete floor, white walls, hanging plants and big glass roof. They’ve squeezed in tables to seat about 30 and a waiting area for takeaway customers at the front entrance by the open kitchen.

So, our view on the food as non-vegans…
The sharing Street Bite Tiffin (£15) for 2 was a great way to start. Packed with 2 delicious pea and potato samosas and a cucumber and mint raita; a bowl of ‘far far’ spicy puffed crisps; light and crispy onion bhaji with mango chutney; and tasty chana chaat. On every table there’s a bottle of date and tamarind chutney, but we also had the pickle plate including an aubergine chutney, sour lime pickle and delicious home-made fresh seasonal pickle.
From the mains we tried the Jackfruit Jalfrezi which is a fiery curry with a strong vinegar / sour flavour, and a hot chilli kick. With such strong flavours, it’s the kind of dish where you just don’t notice it’s meat-free. The Shroom Keema is another full-flavoured dish ideal for sharing, with a mince made of mushrooms, lentils and walnuts (I think), mixed with peas.
We would probably have preferred a cauli and butternut squash Korma rather than the soya chick’n as we didn’t feel it added much. I get that could be different if you are vegan, so maybe a with/without option would work. But we loved the rich creamy coconut and cashew sauce, and it was nice knowing it wasn’t going to be a guilty, fatty, dairy overload. Prices are competitive with starters £4-6, and mains from £6-9. Portions look small at first but the dishes are deceptively filling and satisfying.
From the side dishes we really enjoyed the spinach and potato Saag Aloo, which was just much fresher than usual, with a slightly roast potato flavour. The Tarka Dahl and Aloo Gobi were also comforting and delicious.  The 3-Grains Pilaf with cumin seeds, was a lovely alternative to traditional pilau rice, and a recipe idea I am going to steal. The parathas were light and easy to over indulge in. But this time we were so full we had to get take-away boxes.
Finally we cooled our taste buds in sweet coconut ice cream. Next time we will try to save room for dessert – either the Biscoff and Cardamom Paratha or the Banana Chai Doffle!  There is a good range of drinks – a house and one ‘posh’ white red and rose wine. Then a few beers and cider including a 0% alcohol beer. Cocktails, and softies/hot drinks including Limca, Mango Lassi, Indian Cola, Masala Chai and Turmeric Latte.
We had a great evening and will be back. Soon SpiceBox will be running a take-away and zero waste delivery service in refillable tiffin tins. Thankfully they’ll be open at weekends from 10am serving up the amazing vegan Indian Brunch.


Tuesday – Friday: 5.30pm-10.30pm
Saturday: 10am-10.30pm (brunch 10-4pm, dinner from 5.30pm)
Sunday: 10am-9pm (brunch 10-4pm, dinner from 5.30pm)


Spice Box, 58 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 4PG

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Turkish weekend escapes

When the days are short, dark and cold and I’m dreaming of sunny beaches, a quick holiday in Turkey would be perfect. And the next best thing is a weekend Turkish breakfast in Green Lanes.

A few stops along the Overground train from Walthamstow Queens Road and we arrived on Saturday in search of Kahvalti – a breakfast feast!

I love Green Lanes – all the Turkish barbers, grocers, and bakers. After wandering with no real plan or place in mind, we opted for a small family-style cafe rather than one of the larger well-known restaurants. There was the obligatory Gozleme pancake maker in the front window, but also plates of Icli kofte (stuffed meat balls) and Sarma (stuffed vine leaf rolls).

Taksim Cafe turned out to be a friendly, local gem, with a beautiful indoor garden feel to the decor. We were easily talked into the full Turkish breakfast but there we plenty of other options including veggie etc.

Our table was quickly laden with a feast! Hot spicy lamb Gozleme – one of the best I’ve ever tasted. A plate of grilled hellim (halloumi) cheese, spicy sucuk beef sausage slices, crispy feta cheese borek, fried mushrooms and 2 fried eggs served on a plate of chips.

A traditional cold plate with tomatoes, rocket, cucumber and 3 more cheeses, black olives and cold salami.

And finally a basket of hot pide bread chunks to mop-up jam, honey, rich kaymak – like a sourish clotted cream, and tahini pekmez – a sticky sweet mix of sesame paste and grapes molasses. We were in heaven.

We ordered a green smoothie and a freshly squeezed orange juice (£3.50 each charged extra but well worth it). And the breakfast was served with complimentary Turkish or English tea or coffee. So we just sat for a couple of hours slowly grazing and chatting, feeling a million miles from home. A beautiful breakfast for 2 for only £20.

Taksim Cafe, 423 Green Lanes, Harringay, London, N14 1EY. Open daily 7am to 9pm.

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Happy New Year folks!

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Behind the scenes at Spice Box Walthamstow

It’s well known that SpiceBox will be bringing their first Vegan Curry House to Hoe Street, Walthamstow next month (January 2019). Following a successful run on the festival and street food circuit with KERB, and a popular extended pop-up at the Hornbeam Cafe they are moving into a permanent spaceSpiceBox will bring something entirely new to the area with its all-vegan curry house offering meat-free versions of Indian classics.

The restaurant will be housed in an old take-away burrito shop, opposite Yard Sale pizza. It was just a small counter and take-away area before, but the back room is being stripped out to create an area for 30 covers with a waiting area for takeaway customers at the front. Spice Box owner Grace Regan has designed the interior herself to create a modern curry house with bright colours taking inspiration from Indian design and British curry houses. The artist impression of the entrance and waiting area…

SpiceBox’s menu is 100% vegan and packed with flavour and spice. There promises to be ‘Street Bites’ (my favourite part of the menu) –
  • Loaded Onion Bhaji with pickled onions, green chilli, date and tamarind chutney
  • Pani Puri, puffed puris filled with chickpeas, and topped with sev, chutneys, and kachumber salad
  • Potato and Pea Samosa with house-made cucumber and mint raita
Mains on offer include Chickn Tikka Massala; Jackfruit Jalfrezi; and aubergine Brinjal Bhaji; Bombay Potatoes; Saag Aloo; and Tarka Dhal, which was voted ‘best Dahl in Britain’ at The British Dahl Festival 2018.
Desserts of Biscoff and Cardamom Paratha with coconut ice cream; and Banana Chai Doffle; and mango sorbet.
Thankfully they’ll be open at weekends from 10am serving up the amazing vegan Indian Brunch we tried down at the Hornbeam Cafe.
There will also be take-away and an in-house delivery service from March 2019, aiming to run the UK’s first zero waste Indian takeaway and delivery scheme using refillable tiffin tins.


Spice Box, 58 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 4PG

Tuesday – Friday: 5.30pm-10.30pm
Saturday: 10am-10.30pm (brunch 10-4pm, dinner from 5.30pm)
Sunday: 10am-9pm (brunch 10-4pm, dinner from 5.30pm)


SOFT LAUNCH: 50% off food 23rd to 27th January



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Hidden places in Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

Just 4 hours on an Easyjet plane and we were transported from cold, grey London to balmy Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, closer to Africa than Spain. It is a land of cacti, volcanoes, quiet white-washed villages, rugged rocky coastlines, beautiful gold or black beaches, and never-ending skies. Thanks to the influence of the artist Cesar Manrique, there are very few advertising billboards or electricity cables across the island. It felt a long way from home as we stepped off the plane.

That was until we arrived in Costa Teguise with it’s multitude of English or even Scottish Breakfasts, Sunday lunches ‘with real Bisto gravy’, steak houses, Chinese buffets, pizza palaces or Guiness Irish pubs. Suddenly we were in Skegness not Spain. Tasty and fun it may be, but it was not what we came for. We were determined to track down the real Spanish and Canarian cooking, obscured by the shiny tourist restaurants. So here’s the hidden places we found:

  • Isla Bonita – Avenida el Mar 25, Playa BastianCosta Teguise. Closed Sundays.

This restaurant’s been cooking Canarian food for 30 years. Every day at lunch time there’s two local dishes – and they’re a bargain. We went several times as it was near our apartment and the food was always so good. The lentil soup had deep meaty flavours with bay leaf and sweetcorn (both common in Canarian cooking) for about 6 or 7 Euro. Rabbit Salmorejo is another local dish marinated overnight in vinegar, wine, bay and minced offal, then fried in the sauce. Served as always with salty Canarian boiled potatoes and spicy mojo sauces only 8.50 Euro. Squid and octopus feature on many menus, here with fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce for 8.50 Euro. The full menu includes Spanish tapas, pasta dishes for 6 Euro, and grilled fish and steaks for around 12 Euro. House wine is Canarian, red or white and only 2.50 Euro a large glass.


  • El Guachinche de Luis – Avda. Islas Canarias 19, Costa Teguise (opposite the big Hipo Dino). Closed Sundays.

The only Guanchinche in Costa Teguise – a Canarian word for a ‘rough and ready’ restaurant serving local food. Here Luis prides himself on serving local produce from 7am til 4pm, Monday to Saturday. He runs around serving up hearty tapas and raciones including a board of daily specials translated into English. As we were usually on our way to the beach we rarely had a phone for pictures, but again we went 4 or 5 times for lunch. The fried garlic rabbit with potatoes was amazing for 6.50 Euro. The soup of the day is 3.50 Euro and this was another local recipe including thick vermicelli, chickpeas and watercress. He also sells local cheeses, wines and jams at the back.


  • El Muelito- Avenida de las Islas Canarias 22, Costa Teguise

A very cheap, and therefore easy to overlook, restaurant and bar specialising in rotisserie chickens, hamburgers, breakfasts and bocadillo sandwiches. The house burger costs only 2.50 Euro and is grilled to your liking with roast peppers, cheese, salad and spicy, garlic sauce in a soft, floury bun. Perfect. Indoor and outdoor seating. Seems to be permanently open. Here I discovered my new favourite coffee addiction – leche de leche – espresso, milk and condensed milk.


  • Las Maretas – Plaza las Gaviotas 2, Costa Teguise

And finally a quirky place run for 20 years by Domingo and his wife. It opens at unpredictable times, has a loyal following and very mixed reviews online. The prices on the menu feel like they’ve not been updated in years, maybe since they opened. Pasta dishes start at 4.50 Euro. However when he serves each table Domingo (the only waiter) reels off a list of specials without revealing the prices. Some people feel duped by this when the bill arrives. So after a bit of negotiation and clarification, in the cheapest restaurant in town we spent the most money on any meal in the whole holiday. But for about 70 Euros we had a stunning dry white wine – Vega de Yuco malvasia, a tray of dainty salt-baked local-caught prawns, delicate sea bass carpaccio, and finally local creamy baked lobster thermidor! This was a total seafood blow-out and worth every Euro.




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Brunch at the Spice Box – Hornbeam Cafe pop-up

IMG-20181007-WA0002We love Indian breakfasts. Occasionally we head to Ilford on a Saturday morning to satisfy a craving for a whole host of delights – steamed idli rice cakes, delicate dosa pancakes, puffed-up puris and parathas stuffed with spices, potatoes and onions served with relishes of coconut, mango and chilli, all washed down with a salty lassi. But today we only had to walk as far as the Bakers Arms for some seriously tasty Indian flavours for brunch. After a summer selling their vegan curries and dazzling dhals on the street food markets and festival circuit,  Spice Box have taken up residency for one month only at the Hornbeam Cafe.

Until 21 October they’re running a vegan curry house on Thursday to Sunday evenings serving a vegan twist on all the classics – jackfruit jalfrezi, Keralan pumpkin curry, onion bhaji and samosa chaat (which all sound amazing), plus a lazy weekend brunch from 10 till 4pm.

We enjoyed The Full Indian – rice and lentil ‘doffle’ a dosa pancake batter cooked in a waffle iron, topped with fiery-hot jackfruit beans, guacamole, crispy Bombay potatoes and a cooling coconut sambol chutney (£10), and for a sweet treat – doffle with chai-spiced grilled bananas, coconut ice cream, and flaked almonds (£7). It was “lick-the-plate” level of deliciousness. Unfortunately the turmeric latte wasn’t available today, but we had a couple of warming masala chai teas. I’m not vegan, but this is delicious food, get there soon.


Spice Box: Hornbeam Cafe, 456 Hoe Street, London, E17 9AH

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Fresh & fantastic pizza!

20180904_111312Today I am trying out the WordPress App. I’m not convinced yet that I can write a proper post on my phone. So I’ll start with something simple, A shout out for our friends at the Italian Bakery at Le Delice Cafe on Hoe Street.

In the tiny back room the Sardinian baker (in my head he’s always called Lenny but that might not even be his name, and it seems rude to ask after all this time) makes my favourite bianca pizza.

Tangy, sourdough base. Daily made and freshly rolled-out. Topped with mozzarella, artichokes, roasted mushrooms and Parma ham. Not one for the veggies I agree. But delicious and made to share for only £8.50 (12inch). That’s love for you.

Fab, fresh and fantastic pizza. We’d scoffed half before I remembered to photo but you get the idea.

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We found Kitty! Amazing Thai food

This post title won’t make sense to most people. But if you’ve been following this blog for a few years, then you might remember that way-back in September 2012 we posted about our search for Kitty She was the front of house in the Thai kitchen that ran out of The Chequers when it was a market boozer, before it was refurbished into the gastro pub it is today.

Every change at The Chequers was an improvement except for the loss of the Thai kitchen. Among the standard pub grub of burgers, pies, chips and Sunday roasts, Kitty and her chef worked magic in the kitchen producing stunning Thai dishes at bargain prices and we were Saturday regulars.

We heard rumours they had moved to a restaurant in South Woodford, but never got around to going. Then last week a friend and I were out that way at lunchtime. Caught in a torrential downpour we parked up and dashed into the nearest restaurant. Thankfully that turned out to be Thai Street E18, and as we walked in we were greeted by a familiar face – we found Kitty!

The good news is the food is still amazing, and the decor’s a lot nicer than the old pub. We ate from the bargain £7.95 weekday lunch menu, served Tuesday to Friday 12 till 2.30pm.

From the choices of stir-fries, soups, salads and curries, we ordered the Pad Kaprow – fried pork with green beans,  Thai basil, chilli & garlic, with jasmine rice. It was delicious, but fiery hot! The Thai penang curry with chicken, peppers, lime leaves and coconut milk served with jasmine rice was dreamy delicious – everything a perfect Thai curry should be – creamy, hot, sour and tangy.


Next time, if its not cold and raining, the Yam Nua sounded tempting – a thinly sliced beef salad with chillies and coriander. Or the Pad Khee Mao (Drunken Noodles ) fried noodles with prawn, green bean, bamboo shoots and peppers. Or the veggie Tao Hu Pad Ma Kuar  – stir fried tofu and aubergine with egg fried rice. So many tempting choices. Lunch for 2 with Jasmine tea for less than £20.

There’s a full menu available which looks amazing, £7.50 cocktails, and delivery within 2 miles, which might just cover Walthamstow.

Thai Street E18, 17 Electric Parade, George Lane, South Woodford, E18 2LY (Near Waitrose, Zizzi, The George). Closed Mondays

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Top Takeaways in and around E17



Always a contentious post – we’ve updated our Top Takeaways list again. These are our current favourites, some you’ll know, others might be new. Of course we had to start with…



Sodo Pizza Cafe, Hatherley Mews, E17 4QP
Fantastic pizza place off Hoe Street, eat-in or take-away. Daily, innovative and unusual meat and veggie specials. Usually a vegan and GF option. Sourdough pizza from the giant wood-burning oven. Great antipasti especially the burrata. Natural wines and craft beers too.

Yard Sale Pizza the Old Glass Factory, 15 Hoe Street, E17 4SD
Tables to seat about 24 and a bar with stool-counter seating at the front, plus more outdoor tables for sunny days. Online ordering, E17 delivery and take-away. Massive 18 inch pizza to share. Authentic and creative Italian toppings, thin, stone-baked. Gluten free, veggie and vegan options. Open 7 days a week, noon or 5pm – 10/11pm.

280g 88 High Street, E17 7LD
Small and overlooked pizza cafe down the High Street. Fabulous pizza – my favourite toppings the whole fresh burrata mozarella. No alcohol license. Lovely homemade ciabatta to buy.

Italian Bakery (Le Delice) 114 Hoe Street, E17 4QR
Small Sardinian bakery selling daily fresh baked Italian breads, focaccia, pizza and calzone (at the weekends). Open from 7.30am in the week, 10am at weekends.

Chinese/ Thai/ Sushi/ Vietnamese



New Dragon Inn, 57 Hoe Street, E17 4SA
Next door to the Rose & Crown pub. Reliable Chinese takeaway including tofu, prawn and vegetable dishes. The roast duck with vegetables is a favourite. Dinner boxes are excellent value. Food tastes fresh and hot, cooked to order. Collection or delivery.

Woo Lot, 592 Lea Bridge Road, E10 7DN 
Well, yes technically it is just over the road into Leyton at Bakers Arms. Wide range of Chinese dishes, cheap, big portions, efficient service and friendly staff. Eat-in or takeaway. (Not to be confused with Woo on Forest Road)

O’Cha Thai, 60 Billet Road, E17 5DN
Thai takeaway, delivering fragrant, authentic dishes using good quality ingredients. Portions are on the small side, so order lots if you’re starving!

Etles Uyghur Restaurant, 235 Hoe Street, E17 9PP
Small and unique. One of only a couple of Uyghur restaurants in London. Reviewed by The Eater. Hand-pulled noodles a house speciality.

Sumo Fresh, 141 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL
Japanese restaurant serving handmade sushi and noodle dishes in Wanstead. Free delivery on orders over £20.

District Một, (used to be Little Siagon) 686 High Road, Leytonstone, E11 3AA
Large airy restaurant over in Leytonstone. Lovely Pho noodle soups and delicate Vietnamese pancakes. Good value rice and noodle dishes.

Turkish/ Lebanese


Teras, 117 Wood Street, E17 3LL
Family-run Turkish charcoal BBQ restaurant and takeaway. Lovely homemade food, cooked freshly to order including meze, pide, kebabs and oven-baked dishes. Friendly staff and beautiful decor. Open daily from 12.

Wood Oven, 328 Hoe Street, E17 9PX
Just down from Walthamstow Central – beautiful decor, good food, friendly staff. All the traditional Turkish BBQ grills and meze dishes. Open daily – 12 til late, plenty of table space but also takeaway.

Gokyuzu, 42D, Selborne Walk, The Mall, E17 7JR
New and very welcome addition to the High Street at The Mall shopping Centre. One of the finest Turkish restaurants in London. Focused on the fresh meat grills but good fish and veggie options too. Meze, pide (Turkish pizza), free dips, bread, salads and tea. Open daily  

Mannoush, 230 High Street, E17 7JH
Top of the High Street opposite the cinema. Lebanese kebabs, chicken and grills. It’s only a small place so mainly take-away. Cheap, fresh and tasty.

Fresh Nan Bakery, 143 High Street, E17 7DB (opposite Sainsbury’s)
The tiny, hole-in-the-wall nan bakery has extended into the next door shop and now has a charcoal grill, pizza oven and small seating area. Still so cheap – kebab rolls, falafel wraps, etc. Hot, loud and rammed with folk jostling for fresh 4 for £1 nan bread straight from the tandoor oven.

Fish & chips


Five Star Fish Bar, 442 Forest Road, E17 4PY
Friendly fish and chip shop opposite the William Morris Gallery – ideal for grabbing a bag of chips for a stroll round the park. They have haddock to order which as Northerners we appreciate, lunchtime specials and freshly cooked chips.

The Brothers Fish Bar, 122 Wood Street, E17 3HX
Frying fish and chips in Wood Street for 50+ years. Good quality and traditional – they peel and chip their own potatoes and serve fresh battered fish. Open Mon-Sat, 12-9pm.


The Tiffin Tin, 4 Station Parade, High Street, Wanstead, E11 1QF
Out of E17 but worth mentioning for the quality – they deliver to E17. Real Indian curries. Fresh, healthy, first-class takeaway.

Saffron Kitchen 300 Lea Bridge Road, E10 7LD
Always busy, often a queue for tables unless you go early/late. Mumbai-style street food and traditional Indian dishes. Fantastic desserts including the fried ice-cream. Peculiar opening hours so check before you go. No alcohol.

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Peruvian adventures in Seven Sisters


If this weather has you dreaming of hot sunshine and tropical beaches, instead of booking the first flight to Rio, jump on the tube to Seven Sisters at the weekend for a taste of Latino life.

Directly outside the station is Pueblito Paisa Cafe, housed in the Latin American market. If you’ve never visited go soon as it’s permanently under threat of closure and ‘regeneration’. Wandering around the market on a Saturday tests my nerves and my poor understanding of Spanish – it’s a noisy, lively jumble of hairdressers, grocery shops, butchers and food stalls. This is the place to get every imaginable type of dried chillis, PAN corn flour, chilli sauces, fresh juices, and dried beans. There always seems to be lots of music, shouting and laughter.

The Pueblito Paisa Cafe is open daily from 8am til 9pm serving excellent and cheap Colombian favourites such as meaty empanadas, arepas, sizzling churrasco steaks on a hot stone, cassava fries and of course good coffee. But at the weekend things go all Peruvian. We went on Sunday, entirely by chance, following a craving for empanadas and cold beer. We were transported to a back street in Lima, surrounded by locals and travellers, English and Spanish, all crowded round the Ceviche bar sipping on Cusquena beers and pisco sours. Latin disco hits were playing loudly and the Spanish league football was on the TV.

There’s an extensive Menu de Dia (daily menu). This week there was a choice of chicken soup or oxtail sancocho (another soup), then a list of mains including chicken, baked, fried or en salsa, BBQ ribs, or Beef. This comes with a glass of chilled Aguapanela, a sweet, lemony Colombian drink, all for only £9 .

We went for 1 x Menu and chose the chicken soup – including a whole chicken wing, potatoes, coriander and some scary but delicious chicken offal bits. Oh my, it was so delicious – like the chicken soup you should have when you’re ill to make you feel human again!

We fought over this until the ribs arrived – 3 sticky lumps of porky ribs in a lime infused BBQ sauce, served with long-stewed red beans, rice, grilled plantain and salad. It was fantastic value, all this for just less than a tenner.

But we couldn’t stop there – we had to try the Ceviche. There’s two choices, Classic (just haddock) or Mixed (haddock, octopus and prawn), and that’s what we went for. We ordered a large portion to share, with the classic accompaniments of popcorn and cold sweet potato. We were blown away by how delicious it was.  The fish was so fresh and light. The ‘tiger milk’ marinade was zingy with lime and fresh red chilli (we ordered ours spicy) and infused with red onion and celery slivers – only £9! You can add a side of Papa a la Huancaina, traditional Peruvian cold appetizer of boiled potatoes in a spicy, creamy sauce for a couple of quid. It was as good as any ceviche I’ve had in posh places in town.

Next came the highlight – Polpo a la Brasa. The octopus was coated in smokey paprika (we ordered it spicy again) and perfectly charcoal grilled, served simply with boiled potato slices, salad and a slick dollop of mayo. I love octopus and this was as good as, or even better than, in the London restaurants Truyo or Tragallan where we’ve eaten it recently, but for half the price at only £6.50.

Finally, to wash all this down, drinks include South American and Spanish beers for £3.50 a bottle, and wine if you want it. But the most popular drinks are the fresh exotic fruit juices (in milk or water depending on your taste) such as Mora, Lulo, Guanabana or Guava. A true taste of sunshine! 

Pueblito Paisa Cafe: 235 High Rd, London N15 5JT


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Busy down at the Bakers Arms…

It’s been busy recently with new shops opening down at the Bakers Arms end of Hoe Street. The vegan Hornbeam cafe has just re-opened, and in contrast there’s a new Brazilian butchers with enticing products including tropical frozen fruit pulp, tons of steak and some scary-looking offal.

Another new addition is the lovely new veggie/vegan cafe Bodega 50. This Stoke Newington import occupies a tiny shop front and is easy to miss, sandwiched between a barbers and another cafe. But it’s worth seeking them out for the great Climpson & Son coffee and cheap lunches of wraps and homemade soup. They also stock tempting sourdough and rye breads, vegan snacks and cakes, and weirdly (but happily) a range of  sencha teas and Italian-made fruit smoothies that I can only usually find in a Japanese deli in Ealing. This is going to make my life easier – just please start selling the blueberry and apple flavour!

Bodega 50, 442 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 9AP


Only a few doors further along is the new Gnarly Vines wine shop. It’s the wine version of Clapton Craft beer shop. As expected, there’s a great range of interesting wines from less than a tenner upwards, and they have a fridge full of salami, pickles, charcuterie and cheeses to go with your wine. Only one person drinks in our house, when I open a bottle there’s a good chance of the last bit ending up in a stew so I begrudge spending too much. The guy in the shop was knowledgeable and patient, but also understanding of my first world dilemma and we chose a lovely bottle of red. They also stock a few ciders and plenty of spirits.


I also picked up a couple of recommended craft beers from Pressure Drop and Saizon that have been delicious. But I think the best and most surprising thing was the wide range of low or alcohol-free drinks. This included loads of new flavours from Square Root, botanical tonics, and a stunning 0.5% IPA beer from Pressure Drop that I’d happily drink. Now they just need to start stocking the French alcohol-free cider we once had in Lithuania and I will be sublimely happy…


When they get the licence sorted for drinks and nibbles in the shop, and maybe even a back garden Summer drinking den, this place will be perfect.

Gnarly Vines, 464 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9AH

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A slice of Sardinia – the Italian Bakery at Le Delice

Summer may feel a long way off, but for a slice of Italian sunshine head to Hoe Street. It’s exciting times in January in the Stow with the opening of the new Lidl’s store and the Italian Bakery at Le Delice, and the imminent arrival of Gokyuzu. I went to check them out and instantly loved the Italian Bakery. It’s a magical place of warm bread and pizza smells – an amazing tiny shop at the back of Le Delice cafe on the junction of Hoe Street and Jewel Road (opposite the Rose & Crown pub). They’ve been working hard for the past few weeks, renovating, decorating and fitting 4 big pizza ovens, and thankfully they finally opened this week.

They specialise in fresh, daily baked Sardinian artisan goodies. The lovely Manola is serving up Foccacia – rosemary, or with cherry tomatoes; Pizza Al Taglio (pizza slices) with various toppings; Semolina potato bread; pistachio rolls and so much more. I went in with only £2.50 (it’s cash only at the moment) to pick up something to go with a bowl of soup for lunch. I came away with a beautiful slice of olive oil and rosemary foccacia and a new addiction to these crispy, salty crostini! (perfect beer snacks too)

In the next few weeks they’re planning to start baking Calzone al forno (folded and stuffed pizza) at the weekend for about £5. It’s a great place to pop in for a cheap snack – a slice or small pizza (hot or cold) for about £3. There’s a daily changing  range (depending on the whim of the baker apparently) of fresh bread, cakes, biscuits, rolls, and the beautiful and unusual ‘Su pani pintau’ celebration bread baskets!

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday – 7:30am to 6:30pm,  Weekends – 10am to 6pm

Italian Bakery at Le Delice, 114 Hoe Street, E17 4QR. 07743 508394

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Ferry Boat Inn – down at the Walthamstow Wetlands

I still find it hard to believe that just one bus stop beyond Blackhorse Road or Tottenham Hale station is the Walthamstow Wetlands – Europe’s largest urban wildlife and wetland area, an amazing ‘get away’ to nature right on our doorstep. So, if you fancy a pint after all your muddy wanderings around the Wetlands, just across the road is the Ferry Boat Inn. The old inn (think log fires and oak beams) has been trading for over 250 years at the crossing of the River Lea. These days it’s full of locals and Tottenham Hale students making the most of the cheap beer prices.

We were invited this week to review their time-limited ‘Try January’ menu. They’re offering a range of new dishes aiming at the vegan / dry / healthy / skint January trends, with low calorie / alcohol drinks to match. There’s a grilled seabass superfood salad, a quinoa chilli, and a sweet potato topped cottage pie – all for £6.99. There’s also mini puddings tempting you at only £1.49 each.

We ordered off both the ‘Try January’ and standard menu. Starters were panko-crumbed calamari and a ham & pea terrine, both less than a fiver. They were ok – kind of what you expect from pub food, but served promptly and presented well.

Off the ‘Try January’ menu we had the quinoa chilli – butternut squash, quinoa and black beans served with rice, nachos, salsa and guacamole. It was a very tasty veggie chilli, and a good sized portion for the price. Definitely worth a stroll over at lunchtime, they also do sandwiches (including the mighty-sounding Fish Finger Focaccia) for £5-6, which even with chips would be less than a tenner.

Our favourite dish was the 8oz rump steak, cooked just how we wanted it – rare. It was full of flavour, which is unusual to find at £10.99 (but the chips and mushrooms weren’t up to much). We also loved the beer-battered onion rings! Proper pub-grub. They offer all the classics including sausage & mash, burgers, pies and fish & chips.

Drinks include craft and real ales, a wine flight for £8, and soft and no/low alcohol drinks including Becks Blue, Fentimans, Bottlegreen, and Rekorderlig Cider. There are daily deals such as cheap real ale Mondays, burgers on Wednesdays, steak night on Thursdays, and of course Sunday roasts.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without trying the hot triple chocolate cake…

Ferry Boat Inn, Ferry Lane, London, N17 9NG








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St Gabriel Ethiopian Delicatessen, Finsbury Park


It’s January – so you’re likely to be skint and promising yourself that you’ll be healthy, vegan, and off the booze for a month. So I’ll let you into a secret – our favourite Ethiopian cafe, not too far away, in Finsbury Park, it’s cheap, alcohol-free and easily vegetarian.

African cooking is being hailed as a food trend for 2018 – it needs a makeover and someone to make it more accessible. For years we’ve been eating Ethiopian or Eritrean food – first at Zigni House, then Addis in Kings Cross and venturing further up Caledonian Road to Merkato and Marathon, and then further afield Mosob in Maida Vale, Wolkite and Kokeb in Holloway, Adulis in Oval and Harar in Vauxhall. They’ve all been great in many ways.

But our favourite that we keep returning to is St Gabriel Ethiopian Delicatessen in Finsbury Park. It’s overlooked by Trip Advisor and Time Out, and missed by other foodies. But we love it. It remains below the radar, catering for the mainly Ethiopian clientele. St Gabriel’s is small, busy and basic. It’s not a restaurant, it doesn’t have tablecloths, waiters, or a website. The service is hit and miss. It has a one page laminated menu, but mainly it’s a see what you like in the counter. This is not the place for a romantic dinner and coffee ceremony.


Most other people in the cafe are Ethiopian I think. Some are just there to drink coffee and chat, or to collect injera bread from the industrial-scale bakery at the back. But we are there for the food.

Forget trendy ‘sharing plates’, Ethiopian is real sharing food. All the dishes for the table are served on the giant injera flat bread which acts as the plate, cutlery and carb for the meal. Everyone tears strips off the bread to scoop up the various dishes. Traditionally you feed the person sitting next to you, but that’s getting way too friendly for me!


Injera is a fermented, sourdough flatbread made from Teff flour, an East African grain. It’s made into a batter and cooked on a hot plate, resulting a slightly sour, bubbly, spongy texture like a crumpet. The menu includes the familiar Wots (spicy stews), Tibs (fried meat) and Kitfo (mince meat) dishes. But we go every time for the healthy Vegetarian Selection £8 for around 5-6 different lentil, bean and vegetable dishes with an injera and salad.

The difference here to other Ethiopian restaurants we’ve been to, is the price and the quality. Every vegetable dish has a wow factor – the flavouring of chillis and spices is complicated, delicate and experienced. Too many times we’ve had a dollop of spicy frozen mixed veg turned out onto a bland injera. This food is so far from that.  And the prices are amazing, it’s £30 for a sharing platter for 4 people and we have lunch for 2 for £10 including drinks and often a free slice of cake-like bread.  It’s so tasty, filling and cheap.

It’s open every day, 7am to 8pm. But remember, it’s Orthodox Ethiopian Christmas on 7th January so they might be closed this weekend.

St Gabriel Ethiopian Delicatessen, 12 Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, London, N4 2DW




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E17 Cook Book Club: dates & themes for 2018


The concept for the E17 Cook Book Club is simple: it’s a foodie social evening, everyone brings some food to share and their cook book inspiration (plus a £3 contribution to cover costs). We eat, talk and have fun. The themes, chefs and recipe books change each time. We meet on the last Wednesday of every month in the back room at The Bell pub (Forest Road, E17). We had a great write up in the December 2016 E List magazine: e-list-december-16-cbc-2

The dates and themes for the first few ‘E17 Cook Book Clubs’ of 2018. Everyone is welcome to join us.

  • Wednesday 31 January 8.30pm at The Bell. Theme: Budget Dinners
  • Wednesday 28 February 8.30pm at The Bell. Theme: South America

We’re skipping March unless someone else wants to arrange and host

  • Wednesday 25 April 8.30pm at The Bell. Theme: Chocolate
  • Wednesday 30 May 8.30pm at The Bell. Theme: Cheese

Newbies, couples, singles, everyone is welcome – it’s informal, delicious and fun! The group each evening varies from 6-15 people. Bring a dish and maybe the recipe or cook book. You don’t have to be a masterchef, just share a love of cooking, eating and experimenting and meeting new people.

Sign up to the Facebook page so we can discuss in advance what everyone’s planning to cook.

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New Turkish restaurant: Wood Oven BBQ – Hoe Street, Walthamstow

The stretch of Hoe Street between Walthamstow Central station and Queen’s Road seems to be having a revival. First came the Chinese Uyghur noodles place; followed by coffee and waffle shop Bru, and then Indian teashop Chaiiwala. Finally last week the new Turkish restaurant, Wood Oven BBQ opened.

Wood Oven has a few local restaurants in South Woodford, Barking and Potters Bar. So when we were invited to try out their new Walthamstow venue, we quickly booked a table for Sunday lunch today.  I think this caused some nerves in the kitchen as it’s early days – they’ve only been open a week. But today the food, decor and service was pretty much faultless.

Complementary homemade Cacik (yogurt and cucumber dip), chilli sauce, garlic yogurt sauce and a basket of delicious hot bread arrived first and were quickly scooped up. There’s the typical choice of hot and cold meze for around £5, but missing lahmacun or my personal favourite, Albanian-style liver (great on a cold winter’s night). We loved our starters: thick slices of grilled Halloumi cheese – soft rather than squeaky, and king prawns pan-fried with tomato, garlic and peppers, a tasty, well-priced and generous portion.

After a bit of a wait, we tucked into Lamb chops – a portion of 4 chops, with rice and salad (about £15), perfectly seasoned and cooked on the grill, but we got plate envy when we saw spicy chips and chops served at the next table. However, the real star of the show was the whole charcoal grilled Sea bass, served with roast baby potatoes and veg including asparagus. This was a delicious memory-evoking fish dish – reminded me of eating fresh grilled fish at the seafront restaurants in Fethiye.

The dessert menu is non-existent, just a choice of ice cream or baklava. We went for the homemade baklava – sweet and sticky pastries stuffed with pistachios. Lunch ended with the obligatory Turkish tea and coffee served with delicious, little lumps of nutty Turkish delight.

The decor is beautiful – all lamps and arty mosaics, the seating is comfy, and it all feels light, bright and sunny. The staff were friendly and helpful. The extensive drinks list covers most requirements, including Turkish wine and beer, with wines from about £15 a bottle. All in all, this is going to be a great addition to the Walthamstow restaurants and take-aways and I can see us becoming regulars.

Wood Oven BBQ restaurant, 328 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 0PX

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Top 5 Favourites: Liverpool

We stayed in Liverpool for a few days recently and enjoyed exploring the foodie scene. Here’s our Top 5 Recommends:

1 – for Coffee: The whole Third Wave, designer coffee shop culture is hitting Liverpool right now, meaning better coffee and delicious breakfasts! From the many places we tried Bold Street Coffee made the best Americano coffees using Ethiopian beans; the best (and most enormous) Canadian-inspired breakfasts were at Moose Coffeeback on Bold Street, the most designer styling was at the East Avenue Bakehouse; and the best place for a relaxing pot of tea day or night was at Leaf; finally the best breads and cake we found was at the Baltic Bakehouse.

2 – Mowgli Street Food: Food writer Nisha Katona opened this restaurant on Bold Street in 2014. Now it’s quickly becoming a chain with two in Liverpool, one in Manchester and two new sites in Birmingham and Leeds later this year. It feels similar to Dishoom in decor style, no reservations policy and small plates menu. The focus at Mowgli is on Indian street food including tamarind chat bombs and tiffin tins, with some cheeky Indian twists on a chip butty and cheese on toast. Our favourite dish was the Bunny Chow, a South African – Indian chicken and potato curry served inside a bread loaf (£8.95). They offer a vegan, gluten free and kids menu. Service is swift and friendly. Great range of beers, wines, cocktails and softies. If you can’t get a table at either Mowgli, then another Indian worth a visit is Sanskruti for their all vegetarian and vegan menu of dosas, chaat and curries.

Mowgli Street Food: 69 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4EZ & 3 Water Street, Liverpool L2 0RD

3 – Maray: Another Bold Street eatery – but this one’s won a place in the 2018 Good Food Guide. This cosy, 47 cover restaurant turns out some amazing small, seasonal sharing plates. It’s the kind of place you find in Dalston and Soho, distressed decor and eclectic Middle Eastern, Spanish and Skandi influenced dishes. Top dishes for us were Whipped goats cheese, honey, crisp and pickled beetroot; Mushrooms, celeriac and hazelnuts; Scallops, salt cod and fennel; Octopus, nduja and pickled courgette; Hake, kohlrabi and leeks. With dishes between £5 and £9, the lunchtime deal of 3 plates for £12.50 is a steal. There’s an emphasis on using local produce. All the dishes were cleverly put together and beautifully presented. Interesting wines by the glass and cocktails. Book a table well in advance, or they have a second, larger place in Allerton, Liverpool. If you can’t get in then on nearby Berry Street Neon Jamon serves fantastic Catalan tapas or  try Roja Pinchos for Basque pinchos. 

Maray: 91 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4HF

4 – Bakchich: Lebanese street food cafe, on Bold Street of course, first in a small independent chain – do you feel a theme developing here? Open from 8am to midnight, they offer everything from beans (foul) or eggs-based breakfasts, Lebanese mezze, grilled meat or veggie sharing platters, salads and wraps and grills, to a whole roast lamb (£240 and 24 hours notice!). It’s alcohol-free so they have a massive range of soft drinks including homemade lemonades, yogurt smoothies and fresh juices. Portions are big, so go with a good appetite.

Bakchich Lebanese Restaurant: 54 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4ER

5 – Petit Parle: Finally, away from the dominance of Bold Street, up near the docks and Liver Building is a tiny French bistro that could have fallen straight off the streets of Paris. It’s a dimly-lit ambiance so none of our photos worked out unfortunately. However, recommend it for the excellent fresh seafood – the Menai Strait oysters (3 for £5.40) were amazing served with a dash of rough French vodka, and Whole baked sea bream in garlic (£7.95) were fantastic value. The venison and red wine saucisson was meltingly soft and rich in flavours. The onglet steak and mini hache burgers were delicious. Wide range of wines and cocktails. The staff  made a special effort to invent a mocktail to meet our requirements – and that was delicious too!

Petit Parle: 44 Fenwick Street, Liverpool, L2 7NB


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Syrian Night – E17 Cook Book Club

Thanks to everyone who came along to the fantastic ‘E17 Cook Book Club’ in September at The Bell pub.  It was Syrian Night, with £100 raised for the Syrian Supper ClubHands Up Foundation.


My really simple recipe from Syrian Night was Kibbeh al-hammam (Bulgar and tomato kibbeh). This is a Syrian Aleppo meze dish taken from the cook book:

‘Seductive flavours of the Levant – traditional home cooking from Lebanon, Syrian and Turkey’ by Nada Saleh

You need:
140g onion, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoons tomato puree
170g fine bulgar wheat (in any of the Turkish shops)
1/2 – 1 Teaspoons salt to taste
4 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tablespoons pomegranate syrup (molasses) again look in the Turkish shops
Handful of parsley, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
Seeds of 1/2 fresh pomegranate

Combine the onions, salt, olive oil, pomegranate syrup and tomato puree in a large bowl.
Add the bulgar to the bowl (but don’t stir). Sprinkle the bulgar with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Add the chopped tomatoes on top. Now the messy bit, get your hands in and knead until all the ingredients are fully mixed together. Transfer to a serving dish, smooth it out and decorate with the spring onions, parsley and pomegranate seeds. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with lettuce leaves or bread to scoop it up.

It will last up to 3 days as a meze salad from the fridge, you can add crumbled feta or grilled halloumi if you like, or stir some through yoghurt to make a tomato dip.


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Hotel-Breakfast at the William Morris Gallery Tea room



The sunny William Morris Gallery Tea room is one of our favourite hide-away places. For anyone who’s not been before, it’s a lovely place to take visitors and family for tea and cakes overlooking the gardens, after an arty afternoon in the gallery.

But recently we went along to their ‘Hotel-Breakfast’ event. It seemed an unusual idea – getting out of bed for a 9am unlimited 1 hour breakfast, in the gallery cafe, on a Sunday morning. Would this really be popular in Walthamstow, especially at nearly £15 a head? Apparently so, the event was sold-out and the place was packed with eager, early-morning breakfasters.


The central table was beautifully laid-out with an array of tempting plates of pancakes, waffles, pastries, platters of cheeses and meats, bread baskets, cereals and fresh fruit. All this was served alongside freshly squeezed juices, Union coffee and a selection of teas.


And it works some how. I really felt like I had come down from my bedroom in a boutique hotel to a lovely breakfast buffet. The service was welcoming and efficient, making sure we had drinks throughout, and offering a bag to take goodies home with at the end. We loved the quality of the ingredients – especially noticeable in the meat and cheese platter, the excellent sourdough and the Union coffee. We enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the whole experience set us up for a lovely Sunday morning stroll around the park.


The Tea room café is run by local company Larder, who started up in Wanstead in 2007, and have now expanded to Bethnal Green, the Butler’s Retreat in Epping Forest, the William Morris Gallery, and in the last few months – Central Park and Plashet Park in Newham and East Ham Library. They’ll also be running the café in the Walthamstow Wetlands Engine House visitor centre when it opens in Autumn 2017.

The Tea room café is open – Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4.30pm.

William Morris Gallery: Forest Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PP

*We were invited as guests of Larder London.





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New opening: Tuyo, Broadway Market, Hackney


Tuyo is a sunny, bright and airy Mediterranean restaurant with an Eastern slant. It opened in July just by the canal on Broadway Market in Hackney. We read the early reviews and excitedly booked a table, and after wandering the food stalls of Netil Market and Broadway Market, we made it inside just before a torrential downpour! For the next couple of hours we were happily held captive by the rain and the intriguing menu inspired by ingredients Spain, Turkey and the Middle East.


The decor is Skandi-Med – white-washed walls, massive windows and numerous green hanging plants. There’s an open kitchen and grill, with Ricardo Pimental (ex Salt Yard chef) in charge. They offer an eggs-based breakfast menu from 10.30am during the week and from 8am at weekends. The main menu focuses on pinchos skewers (£6), small plates (£6.50-12.50) and sharing boards (£12-16). So, you could come for drinks, nibbles and tapas snacks, or while away an afternoon with a relaxed meze lunch or dinner.

We skipped the nibbles except for the bread board (olive, sultana fennel and pumpernickel) with a light homemade hummus and yoghurt dip.


The choice of 2 types of croquetas (my favourite when in Spain) caused a bit of an ordering argument. The meaty, rich Oxtail croquetas with mushroom alioli and pickled cucumber won, but I’m going back for the Picos blue cheese and date croquetas.


We hadn’t quite got our heads around the pinchos so then had plate envy when mini skewers arrived at a nearby table… next time! The Duck and figs on pearl barley looked great, as did the Italian and Spanish meat and cheese sharing boards.

The mains offer grander dishes in the familiar small-plate formula. From the fish options we were very happy with our choice of grilled Octopus with pepperonata and hummus. It tasted super fresh, was perfectly cooked – which is tricky, and worked surprisingly well with the hummus, mixing Middle Eastern ingredients with the smoky pepper flavours of Spain.


We also enjoyed the Heritage tomato salad with squid and capers – it was delicate and tender. However, vegetarians would be limited to pimped-up falafel, grilled artichokes, or cheesy burrata or halloumi, with no real vegan options. 

We followed this with Duck breast served on bulgur with date chutney. It was a rich dish, enough to share and served pink. The meat was delicious and quickly gobbled up but the bright orange carrot puree presentation did make us laugh!


Desserts included Ricotta dumplings, Baklava and Banana and pecan cake. They all sounded temptingly delicious but we decided to take a break before heading back into the feeding frenzy of Broadway Market.

The drinks list offers wines from across the Med including less typical finds from Turkey, Greece and Lebanon, by the glass starts from £5.50. There’s an impressive range of original cocktails and gin & tonic specials (£8-9) as well as a couple of mocktails (£5) and local Dalston soft drinks.

For something a bit different, Tuyo is a lovely new place not far from Walthamstow. Overall, from our samplings, the dishes combined some interesting and unusual Mediterranean ingredients in a thoughtful and well executed style. The service was lovely, and the menu and drinks are well priced for the Hackney area. Definitely worth a visit.

Tuyo: 129A Pritchard’s Road, Hackney, E2 9AP

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E17 Cook Book Club – new dates & themes



The themes (there’s been some changes) for the next few dates:

  • Wednesday 28 June – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Your favourite chef’ 
  • Wednesday 26 July – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘ Scandinavian’
  • NEW DATE: Wednesday 23 Aug – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘South East Asian’
  • Wednesday 27 Sept – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Syrian’ with all proceeds to
  • Wednesday 25 Oct – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Food in Movies’
  • Wednesday 29 Nov – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Eastern European’

The E17 Cook Book Club is a foodie social evening, everyone brings some food to share and their cook book inspiration (plus a £3 contribution to cover costs). We eat, talk and have fun. The themes, chefs and recipe books change each time. We meet on the last Wednesday of every month in the back room at The Bell pub (Forest Road, E17).

We had a great write up in the December 2016 E List magazine: e-list-december-16-cbc-2

Newbies, couples, singles, everyone is welcome – it’s informal, delicious and fun! The group each evening varies from 6-15 people. Bring a dish and maybe the recipe or cook book. You don’t have to be a masterchef, just share a love of cooking, eating and experimenting and meeting new people. Sign up to the Facebook page so we can discuss in advance what everyone’s planning to cook.

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Farang – get there quick!


We stumbled across Farang during a weekend walk from Finsbury Park to Highbury, and after drooling over the menu we booked a table for Sunday lunch. This was a good move – they’re currently serving some of the best Thai food in London and it’s close to Walthamstow.

Farang has been cooking modern Thai food at pop-ups, supper clubs and street food markets across London since 2015. Now they have taken a 6 month residency at the former Italian restaurant San Daniele in Highbury with a view to opening a permanent restaurant in the future. Founder and head chef Seb Holmes has worked at modern Thai restaurants The Begging Bowl, Smoking Goat and Som Saa. At Farang he’s delivering a menu of small plates and curries to share, using fresh, seasonal ingredients.


There’s no pretending that this is traditional Thai cuisine – ‘Farang’ is a common Thai word for white westerner. This is modern Thai cooking with passion and creativity. The fiery chilli, salty fishy sauces and sweet relishes blow your taste expectations – there’s no Pad Thai or prawn crackers on the menu here.


We decided on the Sunday lunch Tasting Menu at £35 pp with the chance to try every dish on the menu – 3 small plates, 5 large plates and dessert. The first dish out was a bowl of  Cornish mussels in a fiery green curry sauce, swiftly followed by Prawn and pomegranate ‘Miang Bite’ wraps, Yellow bean & vegetable crispy wontons, Grilled onglet steak with a sweet chilli jaew relish, and the ‘Nham Prik Ong’ minced pork belly served with dipping vegetables. We instantly ran out of table space!


The pork was our favourite dish, but not one that we would have probably ordered. The flavours were amazing. It’s a minced pork and tomato dish, like a Thai ragu, with coriander, garlic, ‘tau noa’ (fermented soya bean) and a homemade red curry paste, slow-cooked until sweet and rich. The vegetables and herbs are used to dunk and scoop the relish. 


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Wood St Coffee – and that bacon sarnie!

Wood St Coffee started life a few years ago as a pop-up at Wood Street Market (hence the name). Now it’s a designer independent coffee shop in Walthamstow’s Blackhorse Workshop serving specialty coffee, cakes, breakfasts and lunches and a weekend brunch. Think sourdough toasties, smashed advocado on toast, seasonal soups, salads etc… We loved the cafe building. It was our first visit, so design-wise we thought it was great – beautiful designer lighting, bright and airy feel, bare skandi-style furniture. There’s free Wi-Fi, plenty of power sockets for sneaky working from home days, easy disabled and buggy access and loads of the outdoor space for dogs, bikes and sunny days.

The cafe remains a bit hidden and easy to miss. You have to be quite determined and certain you’re heading in the right direction, as you steer off down Sutherland Road Path off Blackhorse Road. But the owner, Gareth, promises that some extra signage is on the way, which should improve visibility. Coffees were good – we had black Americanos (£2.20) and enjoyed the blend, flavour and preparation. Full choice of drinks from skinny macchiato and mocha, to teas and hot chocolate.

We were surprised (in a good kind of way) how much of the menu is vegetarian. That being said, the Bacon & Fried Egg Sandwich (£6.50) was an instant win. Great toasted sourdough bread with rosemary butter, which works amazingly with the fried egg. The bacon was just the way I like it, American, crispy style and plenty of it. Served with a sweet, spiced tomato relish. The addition of rocket was a nod towards healthy greenery. All in all, it was worth the 20 minutes walk just for that bacon sarnie!

The Breakfast Stack (£8) – potato cake, halloumi, avocado, poached free-range egg, spinach and roasted vine tomatoes was lovely too. Presented beautifully and an obvious Instagam pic. The sumac, seeds and micro-herbs again are nice touches. The homemade Baked Beans with paprika, coriander & cumin on toast (£6) served to a nearby table led to severe plate envy, and the additional chorizo (£2) looked a great idea. Apart from the cakes and pastries on the counter, there was also a sweet brunch option of Brioche French Toast £7.50 with salted caramel pecans, Greek yogurt, red wine poached plums & maple syrup –  this changes seasonally dependent on fruit available and will be changing again very soon.

You may want to check it out over the long bank holiday weekend.

Wood St Coffee, Blackhorse Workshop, 1–2 Sutherland Rd Path, Walthamstow, E17 6BX

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri 8:30 – 5:30
Sat 9:30 – 5:30
Sun 10 – 4

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A new food experience – Etles Uyghur Restaurant


We’re always up for trying something new, and Etles Uyghur Restaurant is definitely that. Recently opened in the former Ming Chinese restaurant on Hoe Street, close to Walthamstow Central station, this is one of the first Uyghur (or Uighur) restaurants in London. For another taste of this cooking you’d have to go to Silk Road in Camberwell.

A few weeks ago we reviewed the new Taste of Sichuan restaurant; now another regional Chinese cuisine has arrived in Walthamstow. Chinese cooking in the UK is now exploring beyond the westernised versions of Cantonese food. This is not a typical Chinese restaurant, there’s no sweet and sour chicken being served here. China is a big country, and cuisines vary in different provinces.

According to a quick Google search, the Uyghurs are a Turkic speaking Muslim minority group living in the Xinjiang province, bordering countries including Mongolia, Russia, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. There’s complicated religious, cultural and political issues here that I can’t even begin to understand, so we’ll stick to what we know – food. Traditional Uyghur cooking is a mix of influences from the old Silk Road trading routes including Turkish, Mongolian, Persian and Chinese.

Etles is a fairly basic cafe place, warmed up with rugs on the walls, a painted ceiling and bright tablecloths. The menu offers pictures of the Uyghur specialities including some rather scary offal stuff like tongue salad.


After a quick discussion with the waiter we ordered lamb skewers (£2 each) – grilled chunks of lamb marinated with chilli and cumin reminiscent of Turkish kebabs. These were meaty and juicy, although quite chewy. More adventurous were the kidney skewers (£4). I’m not really a fan of offal, but these were tasty, spicy and probably the best kidney dish I’ve been persuaded to try.


Next we tucked into the recommended typical Uyghur dish ‘Ganbian Chaomian’ (£9) – hand pulled Lagman / Leghmen noodles, stir-fried with gently-spiced beef and peppers. It was a hearty version of the more familiar Chinese chowmein, and good as a sharing dish.


But our favourite dish was the unpronounceable ‘Ququre’ (£8) – hand made wonton dumplings in a delicious, light meat stock soup. This was pure comfort food. Delicate, soft dumplings filled with lovely tender beef.


Etles is a halal restaurant, with no pork dishes and no alcohol – we had coke and tea. Service is friendly, advice is given if you ask and the food was served quickly as we were the only diners mid-week. Next time I’m going to try the Polo which further research tells me is rice dish similar to a pilaf with carrots and slow cooked lamb. So, while it’s not a date night place, it is a chance to try a new Chinese food experience.

Etles Uyghur Restaurant, 235 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9PP

Daily, 12 – 9pm, take away available
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Our Top Takeaways in Walthamstow – updated March 2017

Walthamstow has more eateries and takeaways than ever before – of course we don’t claim to have tried them all. There’s now rumours of a Chicken Town, a new Turkish restaurant and BoxPark! So we’ve updated our Top Takeaways list again: Top Takeaways

These are our current favourites (in no particular order), and you don’t have to agree, but they might inspire you to try out somewhere new on Friday night.


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The Big Pink Pizza Oven – a sneaky peek at Yard Sale Pizza, Walthamstow




This week we were invited to the press preview night of Yard Sale Pizza’s new adventure in Walthamstow. Like nosy neighbours, we’ve been peeking in through the windows of the Old Glass Factory on Hoe Street for a few weeks now so it was good to finally get inside and snoop around. In a relatively small space they’ve squeezed in tables to seat about 24 and a bar with stool-counter seating at the front, plus a few outdoor tables for the over-spill in the warmer summer months. The decor has the feel of a pop-up restaurant; exposed brickwork, original factory windows, stacks of tomato and olives tins, orange plastic chairs and blue formica tables – but there’s nothing temporary or subtle about the big pink pizza oven dominating the kitchen!

We kicked off the evening with a cocktail then launched into a bowl of nutty, green Spanish Gordal olives. We’d been warned by the neighbouring table about over-ordering on the starters but the cheesy garlic bread was too hard to resist. I can’t wait for the weekend brunch idea of a Marmite and cheese pizza bread with dippy eggs!

We picked out two toppings for a massive 18 inch pizza to share. One half was a no-tomato pizza topped with the classic Italian combination of ‘Salsiccia e Friarelli’ – crumbled fennel sausage meat, wild sprouting brocolli and chilli flakes. The other half was a cheesy ‘Cour Blimey’ with fresh courgette ribbons and salty slices of pancetta bacon. We under-estimated how big this pizza would be – it would easily feed 3 people, but hey, there’s always the take-away pizza for breakfast option! The thin, stone baked pizzas are really tasty with generous toppings and plenty of oozy cheese heading towards an American style pizza. We tried the homemade Chimichurri dip – I don’t think I’ve come across the idea of pizza and dips before but it was delicious.

The handmade pizzas made with double fermented dough were flying out of the kitchen all night. They use some local ingredients including Cobble Lane pepperoni as well as boasting authentic Italian stuff like Fior di Latte Mozarella and Nduja sausage. Along with these meaty toppings there’s plenty of veggie options including the ‘TSB’ – tender stem brocolli with manchego and pesto, the garlic roasted ‘Aubergine’ or the ‘Kool Keith’ with kale, olives and artichokes. They offer a few weekly specials, and for a few quid extra do a gluten-free base and also a vegan cheese option which will be a  long-awaited hit in Walthamstow. I’ve already got jealous friends coming from as far as Watford for a vegan pizza. 

Finally, with half a pizza boxed up for take-away, we made room for desserts. The warm chocolate brownie with coconut and white chocolate pieces was a delicious chocolate treat. The brownies are home baked so they change the recipe every few weeks. We also tried mini tubs of Nonna’s Gelato ice cream all the way from Highbury and highly recommend both the Five Points Porter & Chocolate Ripple and the Salted Toffee Apple.

Drinks include cocktails, craft beers, Borough Wines and San Pellegrino lemon and pink grapefruit soft drinks. The restaurant officially launches next week, with online ordering, take-away, E17 delivery service, weekend brunch and an early morning pop-up coffee shop following in the next few weeks. If the Finsbury Park and Clapton shops are anything to go by they’ll be open 7 days a week, noon or 5pm – 10/11pm. Get you table booked soon!

Yard Sale Pizza: The Old Glass Factory, 15 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4SD




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Happy Chinese New Year at Sheng High


Happy Chinese New Year – welcome to Year of the Rooster!

Have you tried Sheng High at the E17 Village Market? Felix Tse has been cooking outdoors every Saturday since October, and he’s still there braving the freezing January temperatures to warm up the folk of Walthamstow with his ‘Shengjian Baos’ Chicken Soup Buns.

Felix is an ex-Yauatcha and Hakkasan chef. After stints travelling and cooking in Hong Kong and China he returned home and started working on the London street food scene and in 2016 launched ‘Sheng High’, offering homemade Shengjian Baos.


Shengjian Bao dumplings  are an authentic snack eaten for breakfast on the streets on Shanghai, washed down with warm soya milk. The handmade little buns are pan-fried to form a crispy base at the same time as being steamed so the rest of the dumpling is soft and light on top. The doughy dumplings are traditionally stuffed with pork mince and broth, but Felix is playing with flavours and offering a Chicken Soup and hopefully soon a veggie Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom version.

On a cold winter’s day these hot buns of slurpy, meaty deliciousness were very welcome. Felix serves a portion of 4 dumplings for £6, topped with black sesame seeds and sliced spring onions, a fiery homemade chilli dipping oil and dark, sweet Chinkiang rice vinegar. He’s also planning a regular pop-up evenings in the Froth & Rind cheese shop offering wonton noodle soup and pork or mushroom buns if you fancy a warm seat indoors!

If you’ve not been before visit the E17 Village Market, Saturdays from 10.30am-3.30pm at the Community Hub on Orford Road. It’s a fantastic little community market run by the traders and residents showcasing local artisan produce, street food and home ware including Cyprus Kitchen, Elderflower Cakes, Blomst Flowers, Smoking Salmon, the Greek Café, Flour and Spoon bakery and Perky Blenders coffee roasters.

Sheng High can be found every Saturday at The E17 Village Market, Waltham Forest Community Hub, 18a, Orford Road, London, E17 9LN. 10.30am – 3.30pm

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Taste of Sichuan, Walthamstow

Following various fiery experiences at London Sichuan restaurants including ‘My Old Place’ and ‘Sichuan Folk’ in Spitalfields, this peppery Chinese cooking was a cuisine I wanted to explore but was slightly scared of. A few months ago, Taste of Sichuan moved into Walthamstow High Street  and we’ve been fans ever since.

They offer the same kind of dishes as at sister restaurants The Sichuan in Old Street and Tian Fu in Shepherds Bush, but at more affordable east London prices. The cool thing is that leading the culinary team at The Sichuan and Tian Fu is an award winning, cook book writing Chinese chef – Zhang Xiao Zhong. He’s worked in Sichuan restaurants across London including Bar Shu in Soho and Hutong in the Shard. And I guess this explains the quality of the food at the Taste of Sichuan. I’m not saying he’s here in Walthamstow cooking in the back kitchen, but you can see the same influence in the dishes on offer.

Sichuan cuisine is based around dried red chillies (lots of them!) and the tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The shiny red, laminated menus are the size of a book; full of helpful pictures and descriptions of every dish. Some of it I remain too afraid to try, such as the ‘Husband and Wife’ offal slices, pigs ears and feet, red braised eel or mouth-watering frog – and what is Bear Paw Bean Curd? This is authentic, provincial Chinese cooking. But don’t be scared off, there’s also some more familiar dishes including dim sum, crispy duck, king prawn with mixed veg, chicken in black bean sauce or beef with spring onions.



From the starters we’ve sampled so far we love the fried salt and pepper squid which is fresh and light and served among a mountain of sliced red onion and  green chillies (no naff sweet-chilli dipping sauce here). More unusual, but equally addictive is the blanched spinach, served cold with a sesame sauce (both about £6.50). If you’re feeling really naughty go for the sweet and sour spare ribs which left us in a happy but sticky mess. There’s also a whole page of soups and Hot Pots and a ‘choose your own ingredients’ Chengdu Mao Cai which can be tailored to meat, fish or vegetarian tastes.



The specialty dish, which easily feeds two people, is a crispy grilled whole fish (sea bream) served in an oven-roasting dish, sizzling in a fiery oil infused with dried red chillies, spring onions and Sichuan peppercorns. Included in the price, you can choose three additional items from a list of vegetables such as fungus, mushrooms, broccoli, sweet potato vermicelli, various types of tofu, bamboo shoots and lotus root, all for only £18.

Other recommends include the dry-fried green beans with or without a topping of salty, garlicky minced pork with three kinds of chilli – fiery and delicious (£7.80). The whole crab with ginger and spring onion is a bargain at £13.80 and the dry wok lamb ribs (£9.80) taste amazing. Also a delicate dish of sea bass steamed simply with chopped red chilli was so delicious I wanted to order it again straight away (£12.80).


The lunch menu (also served at weekends) includes a range of dishes for less than £6. These seem to work out as half portions with rice or noodles included and make a fantastic quick lunch if you’re out market shopping. As the food is cooked to order, loads of the dishes can be tailored to vegetarian or spicy/non-spicy choices, though I’m not so sure about vegan options.


The portions are generous, the quality of ingredients is good and MSG free. The young staff can be sometimes quiet and shy. With massive mains around £8-£13, go with family or friends and try a few plates to share. This also makes it easier to manage the staggered arrival times of the dishes. This place deserves to do amazingly well, go now before everyone else finds out – just don’t take my favourite Saturday lunch time table!

Taste Of Sichuan: 167  High Street, Walthamstow, E17 7BX
020 3583 8864. 10am-10pm.

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Behind the scenes at Yard Sale Pizza Walthamstow


It’s probably quite well known that Clapton’s Yard Sale are bringing their artisan pizzas to Hoe Street, Walthamstow next month (February 2017). They already have two other branches and were the winner of Time Out’s ‘Most Loved Restaurant’ in the 2016 Love London Awards.

The restaurant will be housed in the ground floor of the Old Glass Factory on Hoe Street, Walthamstow (towards The Bell). The building is owned by a local, family stained-glass business which opened in Walthamstow in 1920; they used the workshop for 17 years until moving to bigger premises on Byron Road. The space is being interior designed to retain the original brickwork and windows. They have plans for a dining room with booths, stool-counter seating at the front, plus outdoor ‘yard’ tables for the summer. We live close by so we’ve been watching the building works take shape and Yard Sale shared a few very early behind the scenes shots…



So if all goes to plan, in just a few weeks they should be ready. We’re hearing promises of handmade pizzas, double fermented dough, stone baked, and toppings like Cobble Lane pepperoni, Napoli piccante, n’duja, or veggie options like broccoli, parmesan, pine nuts and garlic, and a cheesy smoked cacetto, gorgonzola, mozzarella, ricotta with walnut pesto. They also plan to serve a weekend brunch including Marmite pizza bread with a dippy egg. Bring it on!

Yard Sale Pizza: The Old Glass Factory, 15 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4SD

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A night of Mirth! (Marvel & Maud)


After a recent review in Time Out, and one year after their pop-up opening nights in December 2015, it’s time to post about Mirth, Marvel & Maud – for any non-locals, this is a renovated old 1930’s cinema in the heart of Walthamstow.

We first visited for the free New Year’s Eve party in 2015, and since then we’ve wandered in and out for the E17 Designers Markets, beer festivals, birthday parties, random drinks, meals, and finally the newly opened theatre venue.

‘Maud’ – Theatre: We really enjoyed the press night performance of Around the World on Christmas Day – “a brand new off-beat comedy celebrating Christmas tales and traditions from all over the globe”. The interactive show mixes comedy, theatre performance, lots of singing and live music with festive elves and bizarre Christmas traditions. It runs until Christmas Eve. The new theatre space has only been open for a few months, housed in one of the smaller old cinema screens. This is the next stage in the restoration and conversion of this grand old cinema into a multi-purpose venue. Plans are to host music, theatre, film and comedy nights, adding to the Hoe Street alternative theatre scene.


‘Mirth’ – Restaurant & Bar: On the recommend of a friend we decided to try the restaurant. Every time we’ve ventured in before the atmosphere has just seemed too dark and moody to fancy eating there. This time (maybe because it’s winter) the woolly carpets and chintzy decor seemed more appealing and cosy, with a pianist ‘tickling the ivories’ and the spicy smell of mulled wine drifting from the cocktail bar.

The food received mixed reviews. The Devilled Potted Shrimp was so overly-spiced we had to send it back (and we both love chilli); and although it was taken off the bill, I got the feeling that no one ever tasted it or dared to tell the chef. However the Mussels in Cider were excellent and well priced at c.£6 for a starter size portion or £11 for a main, served with sourdough toast from Today Bread Bakery just across the road.

The mains were more consistent. The Hanger Steak was tasty, cooked rare as requested, and good value at £14, served with horseradish, chips and a handful of watercress. However the real bargain dish was the veggie/vegan Lentil and Pumpkin Curry with rice and onion chutney for only £7.50. But we got plate envy when we spotted the enormous homemade fishcakes being served to a nearby table… next time!
The drinks choice is vast, including the ticket-booth cocktail bar list, a decent -priced wine list and a range of craft beers including Antic exclusive Volden beer and a couple of non-alcoholic beers too. We’re making plans to return for the Sunday ‘Roasts + Jazz’ very soon.
Mirth, Marvel & Maud – 186 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 4QH
Tel: 020 8520 8636
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Fame at last!


We are thrilled that the E17 Cook Book Club was featured this month in the December EList – special thanks to Silvana Gambini for writing the piece and also to The Bell who continue to be our wonderful hosts.

Hopefully it will encourage even more passionate foodies to join us each month. Check out the Facebook page: E17 Cook Book Club

The themes for the next few dates in 2017:

Wednesday 25 January – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Indian’

Wednesday 22 February  – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Valentines – Food of Love!’

Wednesday 29 March – 8.30pm at The Bell, ‘Regional British’

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Bombetta – a little flavour explosion in Snaresbrook

Newly opened in August 2016 right next to Snaresbrook tube station Bombetta is already popular with critics, locals and foodies. Their Puglian small plates are pretty special. We booked for a Saturday lunchtime and the restaurant was packed, with only the counter running alongside the kitchen left for walk-ins. 

We debated the menu for a long time, wanting to order far too many dishes, settling for starting off with the grilled watermelon, red onion & oregano (£4) and the Barolo carpaccio with Pecorino Toscano (£6). Both delicious dishes were quickly served by the friendly and well-informed staff. The Pecorino cheese was divine and ensured we had a quick detour to the Chef’s Deli next door on our way home.

Then it was time for the signature bombette, these are traditional Puglian street food, a peasant cheesy-meatball ‘bomb’. Of course here they’ve been upgraded significantly using speciality ingredients such as taleggio cheese, duck speck ham, prosciutto San Daniele, scamorza, spicy pancetta, ‘nduja, deer morcetta and even porcini and truffle pecorino. The meats wrapped around these tasty fillings include chicken, pork and lamb and range from £9 to £15, all served with grilled Breadstation bread and Organic Lea mixed leaves salad.

Along with the recommended Pork, prosciutto San Daniele, truffle pecorino & porcini bombette (£15) we ordered the grilled quail (£6) courgette fries (£4) and La Bombetta pepper chilli and garlic sauce (£4). It was all served on a sharing platter which makes good use of the small table space.


The rich, strong flavours in the bombette are pretty heavy going, and the serving of three meatballs was definitely enough to share between the two of us. The quail was perfectly grilled and very more-ish. The courgette fries are fantastic and worth the trip alone, and the salad had a tangy dressing that complemented all the salty, strong flavours going on. 

At nearby tables the fennel sausage, steak and orecchiette pasta with chickpeas all seemed to be going down well with adults and kids alike. It’s a noisy, arty, trendy but family friendly kind of place.


Dessert to share was a small but splendid slice of dark chocolate & hazelnut torte served with salted caramel gelato (£7) topped off with a couple of very dark Americano coffees.  For drinks during the meal we had a delicious Italian lemonade and a tasty but pricey glass of red wine.

In a nutshell, Bombetta is a small, local restaurant cooking up simple dishes, using high quality ingredients and making people happy. Open Mon- Fri from 7am for the early morning commuter coffee rush, weekend brunch from 9am, through lunch and on to dinner.

Bombetta, Units 1-5, Station Approach, Snaresbrook, London, E11 1QE
Tel: 0203 871 0890 

Bombetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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E17 Cook Book Club – dates & themes for 2017

The E17 Cook Book Club has been meeting up for two years in November… so many happy memories, so much cooking, and so much cake!

It’s been lovely meeting new people and making new friends. We meet at The Bell on the last Wednesday of every month at 8.30pm. So if you’d like to come along, here’s the first few dates and themes for 2017: E17 Cook Book Club