First off, why is it so rural? Well, the whole area was pretty leafy until the arrival of the steam railway in 1856, leading to a swift bout of the urbanisations. Fast forward to the 1960s and sadly little recognisable remained of ye olde hamlet of Leytonstone.
And yet while individually none of the buildings in Browning Road were of sufficient quality to merit a Grade II listing, the area as a whole was of considerable historic and architectural interest – and therefore designated a Conservation Area back in 1973. Yay.
That’s why it’s so perfectly in tact – and, as many readers will testify, a particular favourite weekend wander.
COFFEE: Le Petit Corner
Nestling on the corner of the High Road and the pedestrian-only entrance to Browning Road is this French cafe. It’s a casually stylish kinda joint: a spider’s web of bare bulbs dangle from the ceiling, tartines, toasties and sarnies are chalked up on the blackboard, and, on our last visit, classy brutalist prints by Laura Lea lined the walls. The clientele is the expected mix of lap-top starers, older ladies relaxing with a tabloid and swathes of mums and kids (especially in the downstairs, more family-orientated room.) And our suitably strong double espresso was rich and smooth, with a good crema. Open daily 8am-6pm at 734 High Road E11
SHOPPING: Jo & Kesi
This is a great little gift shop in this most scenic street. It’s munchkin-small, but don’t let that put you off: the owners are friendly and there’s a a lovely range of products made in east London, the capital generally and even small businesses around the world. We picked up a couple of beyond-hip greetings cards, and the Leytonstone-referencing art and photography will appeal to readers of this title in droves. The name? It references the owner’s son and mother, Kesi a Swahili word meaning “to judge rationally.” Open 10am-6pm, 26A Browning Rd E11
EAT & DRINK: North Star
Step inside one of east London’s – sod that, the capital’s – most atmospheric pubs, which dates back to 1858, and it’s hard to believe that you’re just a couple of minutes away from High Road Leytonstone and the Green Man roundabout. Split into two halves, it’s a real locals’ pub – most drinkers on a recent lunchtime were happy to pull up a seat at the counter and join in – but they’re a diverse bunch, friendly and welcoming. And we can vouch for the fact that the Muga pizza (much raved about on this site) still does the job, especially the exploding egg-driven fiorentina. Open 4pm-11pm Monday – Thursday, and from lunchtime till late at weekends. 24 Browning Road E11.