Prior to this project, Beth had a pizzeria and wine shop in De Beauvoir called Sweet Thursday, and Misty has always worked in hospitality, mainly in food and branding.
Misty grew up in south London and was living in west London before moving to Forest Gate four years ago. “I would get the National Express from Stratford to Suffolk where my brother lives, and fell in love with Wanstead Flats. I couldn’t believe that just four minutes from Stratford you had this massive green open space. I was living in a flat in Hammersmith at the time and wanted a whole house. I came to check out the area and fell in love.”The pair met at the annual Forest Gate music festival. “We started chatting over some sloe gin and became friends,” explains Misty. Two years ago they started talking about opening a restaurant but didn’t really begin working on it in earnest until a year ago.
“We both feel strongly about good, local, organic products and wanted to bring our love of food and wine to Forest Gate.” The pair did some pop-ups over the summer but were keen to find a permanent space. “The building had been empty for 15 years and people said we’d never get it, but we picked up the keys three months ago,” Misty says. “When we were thinking of a name we wanted it to be community focused, a place for people to go, like the 1950s corner shop, but we also wanted it to be all about food – hence Corner Kitchen.”
The kitchen will be headed up by Sophie Hill, formerly of The River Café and La Fromagerie, who Beth met through the local mums network. Everything will be made in-house, including the baked goods, the bircher muesli, the peanut butter, even the tomato ketchup. During the day food will include brekkie favourites, like avocado on toast, bacon sarnies and a selection of sandwiches, plus soups, sandwiches, pies and boards of cheese, meat or veg, with a healthy menu for little people’s featuring dishes such as cheesy avo soldiers, veggie fritters and real banana ice cream.At 4pm, the pizza oven will be switched on (the same model Richard Branson has on Necker and Jamie Oliver has in his garden, by the way) with choices to keep both veggie and meat eaters happy plus some naughty sides: tear-and-share mozzarella, garlic monkey bread, and cheese-stuffed padron peppers. Plus peanut marshmallow fudge brownie sundae with salted caramel popcorn for dessert.
There will be an emphasis on local, organic, in-season produce with suppliers including Neal’s Yard Dairy for cheeses, the Charcuterie Board for meats, H Forman for smoked salmon and Leonard Street roasters Ozone for the coffee. Even the cocktails will have a local, seasonal spin, with ingredients such as pear, elderflower, rhubarb and lavender appearing on the cocktail list.
Upstairs in the main restaurant the bar will provide a focal point – food will be displayed on it by day, and by night it will be a place where customers can chat to bar staff as they wait for takeaway pizzas. The shop will be at the back of the upstairs room and will sell a selection of food, bottles of (biodynamic, natural and/or organic) wine, and a selection of carefully curated kitchenware. Downstairs there’s a sizable space, a playroom for little people by day (prams can be parked upstairs) and extra seating or an events space by night.
There’s an interesting history and local connection behind many of the super-stylish interiors touches. The tables upstairs are topped with solid pieces of wood from a Victorian tree that, until recently, was standing on Wanstead Flats. “I run litter-picking on the flats called Tidy Our Flats,” explains Misty. “I asked the forest keepers if they had any wood and they told me that they sadly had had to cut down a tree because it had been knocked over. We bought the whole tree – it’s Victorian and so is the building so it’s perfect for the space.”
The chairs are from Kempton (“Beth and I never sleep so we get up early and arrive at Kempton at 5am, head torches on,” reveals Misty) and were recovered by the upholsterer in Forest Gate, with beautiful bird and butterfly-strewn fabric purchased from a shop in Wanstead. The downstairs room is panelled with doors collected via a Twitter campaign asking locals to donate their unwanted wooden doors.
Keep an eye on Corner Kitchen’s social feeds for special events and pop-ups such as chocolate and wine pairing for Valentine’s and a kitchen takeover by ubiquitous MasterChef finalist Michael Sanders.
“We’re really excited!” says Misty. Us too.