We’ll admit it, we’ve been social media stalking owner Natalie ever since we heard that she was planning a restaurant in Leyton (she already runs a catering company, making and sells organic preserves, busy lady).
And yes, prior to opening, we may have wandered past the shop front on Francis Road on more than one occasion and pressed our noses up against the window, just to, you know, check on its progress.
Finally our patience (!) was rewarded and Marmelo Kitchen opened its doors in mid-December, serving up a creative, seasonal menu on Friday and Saturday evenings, with additional offerings of weekend brunch and Sunday lunch. Inside it’s all off-white walls, with a dark grey peg rail and stripped wooden floors. Seating is on shaker-style chairs painted white, grey and black, around two long sharing tables or on high stools at the bar.
The menu is written up on a blackboard and changes with every sitting. So this is not a place to get attached to one particular dish as, chances are, it won’t be on the menu next time you visit.
On Friday and Saturday evenings there are around ten dishes to choose from, smaller plates that, happily for vegetarians, include lots of veggie options and a couple of bigger mains, costing from £4.50 up to £10. We were advised to order around five small plates for two of us to share, which worked out about right for us, but would obviously depend on how hungry you are.
The truth is we’ve never had an unsatisfactory dish, but past favourites include: courgette and feta fritters with cardamom yoghurt; poussin with sage and apricot stuffing; sticky pork ribs flavoured with orange and star anise, and crispy parmesan polenta chips with avocado salsa. There’s usually two desserts to choose from and, if you have a sweet tooth, do try to leave room for one, or at least have one to share. The chocolate Guinness cake was a thing of wonder, which I hope makes it back on to the menu one day (please?).
Drinks-wise there’s a tight edit of around three reds and whites, plus a couple of fizzes. The house red is extremely easy to drink, so much so we’re yet to try anything else. For beer drinkers local craft offerings include Five Points and Crate IPA. (If you’re on the softs, they’re local too, with Dalston Cola, Raw Ryah Ginger Beer and Real Lemonade all on the list.)
Saturday brunch includes several variations on muffin, eggs and hollandaise, plus nice touches including Portobello mushrooms with spinach, and eggs with chorizo. We’re yet to go for Sunday lunch, but we will, oh we will. We’re told that rather than being served up as one plate per person, you can order several dishes to share.
The staff are super-friendly and welcoming, helping diners decide what to have without ever making us feel pressured, and chatty without being overpowering. In fact, we’ve actually felt that they really cared about our time there.
Finally, a caveat: it’s definitely worth booking, as word is spreading – and, hot damn, it’s busier every time we visit.