Tenner or Less: Hand, East Village

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Top-level lunches at this very calm spot by the leafy Olympic Park

Healthy beans on toast at Hand, East Village
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Where: This Greek-influenced cafe from the people behind 46b Espresso Hut on Chatsworth Road is a real find (yes, I’m sure we’re late on this). It’s on the quietish – at least, on our weekday visits – strip running northwest of Stratford International, halfway between the station itself and Hackney Wick. There’s a wide pavement running down towards the Olympic Park, with a pleasant view over still-leafless trees, and water.

What: A low-key cafe, all orange plastic seats and blond wood tables. Concrete blocks line the wall and the kitchen is entirely open, with bare pendants dangling, along with a rush of green house plants. The mainstays are really good coffee (although there’s Greek Mountain tea too), lots of classy sweet stuff and, of course, brunch. Grace Dent gave it with a massive PR boost when she said in her ES column last year that it was where she ‘eats out of choice.’

Chilled interior with open kitchen at Hand, East Village
Very chilled – with open kitchen. Photos: SE

Why: Like Dent, we’re now obsessed with the savoury lunch plates. There are things like blood orange, castelfranco, sultana, walnut, mint and argan oil, and bacon and pomegranate sarnies. But earlier this week we enjoyed a truly masterful bowl of stew (see above main pic), made with squash, chickpea and sausage. So far, so meh, you might be thinking: but it was elevated by tangy orange zest, sumac, with thyme and parsley adding Mediterranean scents, and yoghurt a dash of creaminess. A lightly toasted piece of sourdough drizzled with oil proved the perfect vessel to scoop it up, leaving the bowl licked clean.

Notes: The coffee, Square Mile so is of a high standard. It’s also licensed – artisan wines and beers – but only open in the daytime until 6pm, so for most of you this will be a weekend jaunt. In which case your experience may not be as chilled as ours. The buggies and doggies (ours excepted) seem to to flock to Ginger & Mint next door, while laidback meeting-type dudes and laptop warriors fill the room here.

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Don’t: forget to order the moist blood orange cake for afters, with its sticky orange glaze, as long as it’s in season: the perfect accompaniment to a green tea. And, if this miserable weather ever improves, the outdoor terrace is a proper suntrap.

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Hand, open daily except Tuesday, Victory Parade, East Village E20, more info here
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