East London Food & Culture

Birkbeck Tavern

Underrated: 3 places we don’t go to enough

An occasional series exploring some of our overlooked local gems

Leyton: Palmeira, Leyton High Road

This little longstanding Portuguese cafe not only serves delicious food, it’s well-priced too. Go for lunch and get stuck into a ‘Portuguese bap’ packed with warm chargrilled chicken breast, aioli and crisp red onion salad (£6, pictured below), while a strong americano is two quid, and crisp but gooey pastel de nata around £1.50. Pints of Sagres on draft are £4.30 and served in ice-old glasses, while there’s a choice of cold Spanish and Portuguese bottled beer in the fridge; house wine is just £2.50 for a 175ml, surely the bargain of the area. You can even stock up on your tinned goods like sardines and anchovies too. 234 High Rd, Leyton, London E10 5PS

Oozing: proper old-school Portuguese bap. Photo: SE

Leytonstone: Birkbeck Tavern

This backstreet gem is locally known for its huge oasis-like walled courtyard with lawn. If you haven’t checked it out, you really should: strewn with fairy lights by night, it channels pleasingly rural pub garden vibes. Meanwhile its interior, with original fireplace and late Victorian features, as well as dartboard and worn Chesterfields, manages to be atmospheric yet refreshingly un-modernised. They have a decent selection of craft beers, live music and quiz nights, and it’s useful pit stop if you’re walking to Leytonstone High Road from, say, Stratford or Leyton tube. 45 Langthorne Rd, London E11 4HL

Dar Marrakech
Take a minibreak: Dar Marrakech’s interior. Photo: SE

Stratford: Dar Marrakech

On Stratford’s underrated high street is a characterful Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant which opened just in time for the Olympics. Its heavy ornate wooden doors were imported from the medina, and the palatial interior twinkles on a cold night, while the back garden, with low cushioned seating and Mediterranean plants, is more Essaouira than E15. From a menu of tagines, couscous, mezze and seafood, both the slow-cooked, meltingly soft lamb shoulder tagine and the marinated chicken skewers are excellent as is the bread made to order, as salty as it is garlicky. Dar Marrakech, 403 High Street, London E15 4QZ


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