So you’ve never been to…Eat17

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It was about time we roadtested the burgers at the original Walthamstow branch. So we did last weekend

Eat17 interior
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Age: Oooh, at the last count 11. Yep, it’s over a decade old.

Previous incarnation: Local off-license. “It was a rundown shop called Paul’s Wines,” said co-owner James Brundle at the time. “None of us had ever run a business before, but we all grew up in Walthamstow and saw an opportunity to create a local convenience store that was a bit different and offered customers an experience.”

Where exactly is it? On Orford Road, dontchaknow. In the very lovely Walthamstow Village, all shiny and pedestrianised. And very Mini-Hollandish.

So what goes on there? Well, you’ll know the basics, with the famed Spar and its posh fruit ‘n’ veg (sorry, artisan produce). And the interior – at least on the Saturday night of our visit – was sexy-dark, candlelit and absolutely rammed, despite it being a keen 630pm.

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Can I eat? Naturally. We were surprised just how upscale the menu actually is, with lots of mains, like a roast duck breast or ribeye steak around £20 (although they start at £12.75), and starters from £7. Tasty-sounding vegan options, too (we were tempted by a charred courgette, sweet potato and coconut curry). But on this inaugural visit – post riotous industrial-estate Saturday afternoon drinks – it was all about the burgers. A buttermilk fried chicken number came with crunchy slaw, aioli, tomato relish, jalapenos and excellent real wonky handcut chips. Better still was a superior cheeseburger, perfectly crimson when sliced, and dripping almost pornographically with melted double Gloucester. It was, of course, laced with the famous Eat17 bacon jam. (Speaking of which, piglets that we are, we also shared a gooey starter of potato, pecorino and truffle croquettes.)

The interior: discuss. It’s all Chesterfield sofas, circular aluminium tables in the bar (not to mention bar stools), pendant lighting and rows of tables-for-two in the main dining room. The crowd? A mix of parents taking their kids (of various ages, from babies to under-18s and late 20s) out, with lots of couples and, naturally, a celebratory prosecco-clinking group or three.

And what do I drink? We nearly leapt for a negroni; but settled instead for a decent French house red at just under £20 a bottle. And there are obviously all the usual craft beers.

What’s the service like? Friendly, helpful, with a touch of the one-eyebrow-raised smirk at the Saturday night crowd.

Do say: “This was a pioneering addition to north-east London back in the day.”

Don’t say: “Why aren’t they calling the new one Eat11?”

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The bill was £55.63 for two burgers, a starter to share and a bottle of house red, including service. 28-30 Orford Rd, Walthamstow E17 9NJ. The new Eat17 opens at 676 Leytonstone High Road in July in the old Shoeworld store (watch this space).
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