Arch Rivals is opening in December

The folk behind All You Read is Love and chef Michael Sanders are opening a new gaff on Forest Gate’s Winchelsea Road

A classic London railway arch is again being transformed. Photo: AR
As if you need another reason to visit Forest Gate’s buzzing Winchelsea Road, Karen Bundgaard – who co-founded our top hangout Leytonstone’s All You Read Is Love with brother Anders – is joining forces with supper club veteran Michael Sanders to open a new bar and restaurant, Arch Rivals.

The food biz founders have lived in Leytonstone since 2012 and met when Michael was running a pop up at The North Star and would swing by All You Read Is Love as a customer. “I ran a couple of supper clubs alongside Ros and Paul from Burgess & Hall,” explains Michael. “The supper clubs were a hit and we all vowed to do more in the future. In the meantime Ros and Paul went off and started Burgess & Hall on Winchelsea Road, I took over Coffee7 and Karen continued to run All you Read is Love.”

Karen and Anders back before the launch of AYRIL. Photo: AYRIL
Karen and Michael became a couple last year – and from day one talked about running a business together. When the opportunity arose to take over the arch, formerly occupied by craft cider company Hawkes, it was a no-brainer. “We really hoped we would end up on this road as it feels like an exciting place to be alongside The Wanstead Tap, Burgess & Hall, Aphrodite’s and Pretty Decent Brewing Co.”

Food and drink will be of equal importance at Arch Rivals, which is big enough to seat around 45 in winter and double that when the outdoor area opens up in the warmer months. “We’re opening the kind of place we both would love to go to ourselves. Great ingredients, served simply, alongside a short but high quality list of wines, beers and cocktails. All of our neighbours offer something different, our angle is food, yet we hope people will be happy to just pop in for a drink too.” The vibe will be casual and homey. “We want it to feel like going to a friend’s for dinner. The bar and kitchen are completely open plan and feel less commercial kitchen and more home-like. We’re very much on show.”

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The name was suggested as a joke by a friend, “But we loved the tone of it, it’s tongue in cheek as we’re really good friends with all the other business in the area and think we compliment each other rather than actually being rivals.”

The interior slowly coming together….Photo: AR
Dishes will be inspired by childhood memories and ingredients will be sourced from high quality local suppliers. “Food will be unfussy and high quality, with an eye on providing great value. Style-wise, we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves, but expect lots of influence from the UK and Denmark (influences from our childhoods) and nods to France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and across the world. Basically, if it tastes good, we will serve it: locally sourced vegetables, meat from free-range and organic farms surrounding London, sustainable fish, cheese comes from La Fromagerie and bread from E5 Bakehouse.”

On the drinks front expect creative cocktails and house beer. “Coffee will also be from Square Mile in Bethnal Green. Cocktails are Karen’s background, so expect big things there. Beer will be from Pretty Decent Brewing Co – to sit alongside Beavertown and other local breweries. Wines are from an incredible family-owned wine importer that’s been running since the 1800s.”

Sanders was a finalist in Masterchef 2014. Photo: BBC
Not open till December, it’ll be in soft opening mode until Christmas. “The kitchen will not be fully operational until January when our front of house manager (formerly of The Red Lion) joins us. There will be food available, but slightly stripped back for those first few weeks.”

And don’t panic, All You Read Is Love Isn’t going anywhere: “It will absolutely still be continuing under the direction of Anders and Hedvig,” says Karen. “I’ll remain a partner in the business but day-to-day my focus will be at Arch Rivals.”

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Find Arch Rivals at Arch 321 Winchelsea Road, E7 0AQ from 7 December. Wed and Thur 5pm – 11pm; Friday 5pm – 12am; Sat 10am – 12am and Sun 10am – 6pm. @archrivalse7
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