Founders Hedvig Winsvold and Lorna Medlycott will be familiar faces to many Leytonstoners: they met and became friends when they both worked at The Red Lion where Lorna worked her way up to assistant manager. The pair stayed in touch when Hedvig moved to All You Read Is Love, where she worked until it closed in May.
Both had separately dreamt of opening their own place. “After seeing so many of our good friends taking the leap – Burgess & Hall, Venner, Arch Rivals and so on – we decided to combine our dreams and do it together,” explains Hedvig.
Inside, the arch has a warm and inviting vintage Scandi vibe. A teak bar separates the kitchen from the dining area, seating is at retro tables and chairs, and a cushioned bench runs along one wall. Much of the highly covetable crockery was sourced on a scavenging trip to Norway, plants are dotted around the place, suspended from the ceiling in macramé hangers, while fairylights are strung around the door, softening the strip lighting. Trains rumble overhead, but in a comforting way.
As for the name, Tromsø is a city in the north of Norway where Hedvig used to live. “It’s on an island surrounded by mountains and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world,” she says. “It also has more cafes, restaurants and bars per citizen than most places in Norway. I have a lot of family there so my relationship to the place is very close.”[/caption]The menu combines their backgrounds. “Me being Norwegian and Lorna an Essex girl we wanted to bring the Scandinavian and British together with a menu cooked with sustainable and where possible, locally sourced produce,” says Hedvig. “We want to keep it relatively simple, leaving room to perfect what we do and change it more often.”
Drinks include refreshing homemade fruit fizzes and Climpson & Sons coffee, with the option of regular or oat milk (with no supplement for choosing the dairy-free option). Nothing costs over £6 and meat eaters, veggies and vegans are all catered for.
On my last visit, unable to decide between tomato and basil soup with garlic croutons or an open sandwich of roasted carrot pate and pickled onions on rye, I had both. The soup was thick with an incredible depth of flavour, the croutons crispy and garlicky and the crouton-to-soup ratio was exactly right. Generous slices of moist seeded rye were topped with mellow carrot pate and sharp pickled red onion, providing a taste and texture contrast, not to mention a hit of colour on a grey drizzly day.
A series of events and a bigger kitchen are on the horizon. “We will be putting on some exciting events throughout the next few months, including supper clubs and markets,” says Hedvig. “We are also hoping to expand our kitchen slightly – we definitely need a bigger dough mixer to keep up with the cinnamon bun demand.”