East London Food & Culture

Six Things We Learnt This Week – from pop-ups to geese in trees

Phlox, Crate Brewery, Yard Sale, Yardarm, Marmelo: tips and observations for the last few days of lockdown

1. Henri Pick is an awesome lockdown read

As you’ll know, the independents on Francis Road and elsewhere have winningly adapted their business models to stay open. So it couldn’t have been easier to pick up excellent new release The Mystery of Henri Pick from our fave literary hangout, Phlox. Published by Pushkin Press, it’s a rip-roaring self-referential novel about books, authenticity and the stories behind stories – but, don’t worry, it’s not too clever for its own good. There’s also a proper mystery at its centre, which will have you guessing until the final, satisfying twist. More online here.

The Mystery of Henri Pick. Photo: SE

2. We are useless at pop-ups

The better-organised residents of the area are winning right now at the enviable roll call of food pop-ups and sought-after takeout meals. While we often see the all-important Instagram posts too late and resort to peeling open packs of smoked mackerel – or perhaps, on occasion, slicing sirloin from Meatlove – our local mates have been raving about the recent kitchen geniuses at, say, Yardarm. There’s the phenomenally popular Short Road Pizza on Sundays, for example, and last week Indonesian chef Lara Lee completed her sell-out residency. As for wunderkind Willy over at Marmelo with his marvellous pies? Forget it: they’re gone instantly. Chuck in the ace burger nights at Deeney’s (Thurs-Sat, 4-9pm), Sushi Sundays at The North Star, tenner roasts at The Birds and the Heathcote’s weekend Krapow takeouts – and do we actually need restaurants to open again? The answer is, of course, yes. Yes, yes, yes!

What’s that up in the tree? Scroll down. Photo: SE

3. La Bakerie will make you drool

Speaking of scran, the postcode patisserie game is also mouthwateringly strong at the moment. Marmelo pile their counter with oozing doughnuts and expect us to ignore them as we scoop up punnets of seasonal vegetables (although we’re long hooked on their entry-level drug – those ridiculously addictive salted caramel brownies). But a recent discovery is Wanstead’s La Bakerie: is there a more dazzling selection of patisserie, pictured above, in E10 or E11? Open daily, 119 Wanstead High St E11

4. Jubilee Park has some fascinating history

Last week we urged you to support the campaign to save The Antelope, a particularly elegant green-tiled corner boozer near Jubilee Park. But what of the Leyton park’s history? We delved into that too – and it’s a joyously uplifting tale of people power, its development halted by 3000-strong protests in 1892. It’s been protected ever since. Read more here.


Yardsale pizzas post-Crate. Photo: SE

5. You can get a beery bargain at Crate

Hackney Wick and the Olympic Park seem perilously busy right now, especially the stretch by Barge East, which was more like pre-Covid Camden Market than neighbourhood east London last Sunday. Anyway, the good news is that Crate Brewery have a lockdown special of 12 cans for £14, which made for a fun and cheap alfresco afternoon by the water (public toilets are thankfully open in Queen’s Yard). To soak up the beers we stumbled home and scoffed some Yard Sale pizza: normally ‘TSB’ fans (the broccoli and pine nuts one), we can recommend the ‘Mush Be Love’, a white pizza with chestnut mushrooms and all-too-moreish truffle oil.

6. Geese do climb trees

Finally, during a swift walking circuit of Hollow Pond’s sandy beaches the other day, we were captivated by a contented-looking goose perched high up on a branch (see pic, above). Was our feathered friend enjoying her fresh perspective on things? We could, of course, all learn a thing or two from that.

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