First things first: traipsing down the traffic-clogged thoroughfare of Church Road, where it bleeds onto Lea Bridge Road, is almost no-one’s idea of a good time.
And yet perhaps the unexpected Leyton location is what makes new cafe-bar-venue Patchworks, tucked away off the main road, such a total delight.
Inside (see main pic, above) this former furniture factory there’s a hangar-like ceiling, brick walls and concrete floors, a floor-to-ceiling window letting the sun stream in. There are simple tables and bentwood chairs, with obligatory outsize houseplants and an eye-catching (and highly Instagrammable) painted piano.
All the sweet treats that proliferate the cafes of Francis Road and E10/E11 generally are present and correct: local heroes Perky Blenders are on coffee duty, there are Unholy Bagels to munch on and – yay! – two Signature Brew craft beer taps at the bar (cocktails and a decent range of wines abound, too).
Outside is a surprisingly spacious courtyard (see below), connected to the indoor space by huge wooden sliding doors. Vases of sunflowers lie on each sharing bench, with old school plastic chairs dotted about. The toilets are accessed through a working studio, with sculptures lined up at its rear.
On our mid-afternoon Thursday visit the outdoor space was populated by a very East London mix of mothers with babies sipping tea, couples wielding disposable coffee cups and local workmen necking pints.
And that’s not all. There’s a whole schedule of cultural events, from BBQs to pop-up dinners and art shows. Coming up on 15th-17th October is what sounds like a corker. Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994 is a one-off ‘heritage rave’ weekend, the aim being to bring together some of the pioneers from that era, celebrating pirate radio, rave and its impact on UK dance music culture.
Its centrepiece is an all-day music event on Saturday 16th October (4-11pm), with DJs who helped develop the local scene, while the exhibition will include rare hand-painted 90s rave banners and artwork by Walthamstow-based company Bannerama. Admission is free 9am-11pm on Friday 15th and Sunday 17th October, and ticket-only from 4pm on 16th October.
And if that all sounds a little too hectic, just swing by for your morning coffee one day instead.
Main image: Stephen Emms