The ‘Beyond the Big Smoke’ series finally continues and we’re heading east this time. It’s where I look further afield than Central London for places to eat, drink and hang out. Explore further and you’ll find there is more to London than the places you see on the Monopoly board.
This time I take you to Walthamstow – now seen by many as a haven at the end of the Victoria Line. Sandwiched between Epping Forest and the Lea Valley some parts resemble a leafy wonderland. The number of hipster joints popping up dovetails with a steady influx of people ousted from the pricier nearby neighbourhoods of Dalston and Stoke Newington.
About a ten minute walk from the tube station you’ll find yourself in the much sought after Walthamstow village. At every turn you’re spoilt with Elizabethan architecture, pubs, artisan produce, restaurants, interior shops and the poshest Spar on the planet (it has its own pizzeria inside). Trust me, Waitrose would be seriously jealous.
Places to eat
Eat 17 is a smart modern restaurant and makes some of its own produce on site like the bread and award-winning bacon jam. Before my grand tour began we started on the right note with a delicious brunch. The veggie breakfast came with halloumi, avocado, slow cooked onions, fried eggs, potato hash, roast tomato, chestnut mushrooms and house beans.
It’s also famous for its buttermilk fried chicken which comes on a waffle along with egg, bacon, avocado and hot sauce. There are also the creamiest scrambled eggs with organic smoked salmon and chives on sourdough bread. All the meat comes from the East London Sausage Company just across the road and wherever possible fruit and veg is sourced from local allotments.
Froth & Rind is a café painted in the perfect shade of blue serving the sexy combo of erm cheese and craft beers. They sell a huge selection of cheese from the upmarket cheesemonger East London Cheese Board. The sweet treats on offer and coffee are a must try too apparently. Having already eaten, I was gutted to have missed out on the meanest cheese toasties in town. Next time!
If on the other hand you’re on the hunt for a little bit of Spain in Walthamstow look no further than Orford Saloon. A popular, cosy little Spanish tapas bar serving up authentic dishes all day long.
Places to drink
About a 10 minute stroll away behind the village, is the Ravenswood Industrial Estate. A place that’s been on my radar for so long. Yes! An industrial estate. Believe it or not it’s the coolest place to drink in the area. It looks exactly as it sounds a grey tarmaced area filled with big warehouse like structures, not pretty, but full of joy if you look beyond the exterior.
The Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace had my name written all over it. This no-frills gin joint based within the Mother’s Ruin distillery (once a WW1 munitions factory), serves the most delicious cocktails.
Also their award-winning fruit liqueurs and cocktail bitters are made from locally grown and foraged ingredients. We supped on a rhubarb and ginger, raspberry and pineapple cocktail and the signature damson gin.
Right opposite is an artisan micro brewery and bar called The Wild Card. It produces 4,000 litres of craft beers a week and supplies and sells kegs and bottled beer up and down the country. At the weekends brewery closes and opens its bar to the public. There are food pop ups available on site too, to help soak up all the alcoholic refreshments – so fear not.
Boozy delights aside you can also head to the Las Vegas of London – God’s Own Junkyard.
This neon paradise within a massive warehouse is bursting at the seams with new and salvaged retro neon signage, glittering disco balls, religious iconography and film props. Even when nature calls you have to step into a tardis to relieve yourself.
You can sit and admire the collection from The Rolling Stones café inside, where we treated ourselves to a cuppa from bone china teacups and a rather large slice of chocolate cake.
It’s only open on a weekend, but I urge you all to go and be dazzled by the place.
Things to see
The Vestry House Museum can be found in an eighteenth century workhouse built in 1730. It showcases a history of Waltham Forest. You know me and museums, I couldn’t resist a peek.
The small collection includes various artefacts from the Victorian era to the 20th Century. My favourite part is the award-winning garden it’s a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday and free to enter.
Walthamstow’s Ancient House is reputedly London’s oldest dwelling. I’m talking older than William Shakespeare. Originally built in the reign of Henry VI, they certainly picked the right name for it.
Now it’s a privately rented property. Imagine staying in a building full of so much history. I wish walls could talk.
I loved wandering around this quaint little pocket of London. I couldn’t stop snapping the beautiful cottages and colourful terraces on my walkabout. Plus there’s enough to keep your tastebuds tingling on your visit. Next time you fancy stepping away from Central London make a date with the eden of the east, you won’t be disappointed.
My first post in the series was on Wimbledon village, which you can read here.
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