It’s fair to say that almost everything has changed since we launched back in late February 2015: Cameron was still in power (who?), there was no such thing as Brexit – and heavens-to-betsy – Francis Road wasn’t even pedestrianised yet. Whatever next?
The area was, however, still pretty awesome, which is why we started Leytonstoner in the first place. Feeling nostalgic? Take a butcher’s at our first three features: there was the review of Sunday lunch at the Red Lion, a rave about the Coach & Horses’ Blues Nights, and a story about the recently opened Wild Goose Bakery.
Fast forward six years and, in this special birthday feature, we’ve rounded up half a dozen things to look forward to in 2021, including a name-check of some of our favourite hangouts, as well as a teary glance back at a few places we miss.
First up, six things we’re excited by.
1. The rise of Grove Green Road
It’s all happening at the curve where Grove Green licks the top of Richmond Road: there’s a new coffee shop about to open opposite the Heathcote & Star, a soon-to-be-landscaped outdoor space at elegant craft beer hangout Filly Brook (support that here), and the new brewpub taking over the arches from Solvay Society, who recently smashed their crowd-funding target. We’re also fans of Happy Valley, the Cycleway bike shop and Sit Collective, not to mention the Star Wars mural.
2. Pub Gardens are back
Speaking of all things al fresco, the news that outdoor areas are reopening from April 12th has left us dribbling with anticipation after months of lockdown. Take your pick from the Northcote’s brilliantly quirky decked and walled spaces to the sheltered backyard at The Birds, with its booths, TBC’s pavement terrace, or the massive afternoon sun-trap that is the Coach & Horses. And the granddaddy of them all? That cavernous courtyard at the Red Lion (main picture, above). Don’t forget newer outdoor terraces like Gravity Well by Leyton Midland, too. Do we need a substantial meal with that?
3. The fast-moving food scene in general
When did Leyton and Leytonstone become the streetfood/ takeaway epicentre of east London? We would pinpoint it as sometime over the first lockdown, when so many furloughed chefs started messing about in their own kitchens. We now follow so many entrepreneurial and talented chefs in their streetfood kitchens in E10 and E11 on Instagram that we’ve lost count. And let’s not forget the brilliant produce on offer at the independent food stores, from Wild Goose and Stone Mini Market to Marmelo, Yardarm and newer ones like Al Altunis, too. Cafe shout-outs to the mighty Perky Blenders and Strange Brew, too.
4. Two new arrivals
Speaking of food, as we always do, superior-sounding sushi is here in E11 (748 High Road, to be precise) in the form of Sushi Ginger. This venture is from the team behind You Me Sushi, a Marylebone restaurant we used to frequent back in the day (@sushigingerlondon). And in E10 Figo is set to make a rather unloved stretch of Leyton High Road a little more vibrant when it opens in May; they’re doing a proper #reno project on the joint, with its elegant facade and windows (@figorestaurant.)
5. East London Waterworks Park
If it wasn’t for the many diverse walk options in every direction round here, we may just have lost our marbles over the last year. So, generally we’d not support any development whatsoever of our fantastic green spaces – whether that’s east to Wanstead Flats or west to the Marshes – but we’re definitely excited about the re-wilding campaign to transform the historic filter beds on Lea Bridge Road into a place for wild swimming. Fingers crossed.
6. More public displays of creativity
Last year the Walala Parade only highlighted how many creative local businesses can come together to support a project for the greater good. We also loved the London Mural Festival, which painted forgotten walls across E10 and E11 to inspire us during Covid. And it’s not stopping there: 2021 sees the new Makers of Leyton mural at Leyton Midland, as well as the return of the excellent Leytonstone Arts Trail, amongst others. Not to mention the fact that, since the area is packed to the rafters with artists, designers and other creatives, we hope to see more pop-ups and shops like Venner, Jo & Kesi and Host opening, all of which are bravely weathering the lockdown.
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