East London Food & Culture

Six Of The Best: Papa’s, Robin’s, Lanterna, Teras, Deeney’s – and Thattukada

Keralan excellence in East Ham, hunger plenished in Hackney Wick, and oh-what-a-lovely-bargain in Wanstead

Wanstead: Robin’s Pie & Mash

Robin's Wanstead
Robin’s Wanstead. Photo: SE

It’s not quite as legendary as Leytonstone’s very own pie & mash shop (we’re biased, right? Read our review of that here) but Robin’s, a wonderful institution on the corner of Wanstead High Street near the green, makes the perfect budget midweek lunch. The pastry is golden, pie meat meltingly tender, mash smooth, the parsley liquor gently soothing (£5). There are even meal deals and an ice-cold orange machine (a snip at 60p). And the staff are lovely. On a grey day it settled an unfortunate Monday hangover admirably. @robinspienmash

Hackney Wick: Lanterna

Lanterna. Photo: SE

We’ve enjoyed the pizzas at this newish airy glass building opposite the canal before, but a mid-afternoon visit on a Saturday surprised with some unexpectedly outstanding steak: rosy rib-eye beef tagliata di manzo came criss-cross charred and butter-soft, paired with grilled aubergine. A boat-sized golden breadcrumbed chicken Milanese also delivered, with moreish crushed new potatoes and a trio of dips (aioli, basil mayo and smoked paprika and chilli). Not needed? All the rocket. Otherwise top marks. Well worth the walk over the Olympic Park. @lanternafishisland

Leyton: Papa’s Bagels

Papa's Bagels
Papa’s Bagels. Photo: SE

This understated café at the tip of Mainyard Studios, with striking mural-clad exterior, feels new but has just celebrated its second birthday. Inside there’s lots of seating (good for the WFH crowd like us) and a dividing shelf-wall dotted with houseplants. As its name suggests, the emphasis is on bagels – but through an Italian filter – so authentic ingredients range from speck to friarelli. An americano comes in two sizes – depending on how much water you want – so a small, strong version (£2.60) packs the punch of an old Soho café like Bar Italia. Meanwhile, a tuna bagel was elevated by a home-made tuna patty, with cheese, friarelli (similar to spinach), pickled onions, jalapenos and aioli (£7.50). There are cicchetti to share too. @papabagel

Walthamstow: Teras

Teras: the roll lamb beyti is centre. Photo: SE

Now, Wood Street really is one of our favourite thoroughfares in E17; there’s something perfectly neighbourhood about it, whether it’s a coffee at Dudley’s, a beer in the window at Clapton Craft, or a mooch around the Georgian Village. Last Sunday we swung by to check out the new 1980s retro microbar from local drag promoter Pixie – and after one more wine than intended – descended upon the recommended Turkish grill opposite. Happily, both chicken shish and the well-seasoned garlicky minced roll lamb beyti impressed: grilled over charcoal and served in lavash bread boats, the latter was surrounded by an Iskender-style creamy tomato sauce. Crisp, refreshing salads were equally tasty and spiked with flavourbombs. Our only critique would be for it to pivot to BYOB, or sell better quality wine, as our red didn’t impress, even when we swapped the first for a higher-priced glass. Teras, 117 Wood St E17 3LL


Leyton: Deeney’s

Deeney’s brunch. Photo: SE

OK, of course this is not a new find. But shamefully, it had been months – possibly even over a year – since we last enjoyed brunch at Leyton High Road stalwart Deeney’s. And so what a joyous thing it was to sink into one of their signature Hamish Macbeth toasties – an exploding marriage of haggis, bacon, rocket, caramelised onions, mustard and oozingly orange cheddar cheese. But a new one on us, the fiery potato hash was a winner too, with fried egg, kale, peas, almond dukkah and tahini dressing. Chargrilled halloumi = 100% perfection. @deeneys

East Ham: Thattukada

Thattukada: those caulifloweer nuggets. Photo: SE

Why hadn’t we explored East Ham’s vibrant Keralan food scene before? We can’t answer that. But a arguably the best meal in the wider East London neighbourhood this year has been at this brightly-lit dining room near the tube. Sublimely rich prawn masala delivered heat as vividly as coconut, while a warming mutton biryani was as succulent as it was aromatic, studded with cashew nuts and raisins. Other highlights included a fillet of mackerel fried in Kerala spices with garlic and ginger, and some intensely hot Gobi 65 (spicy red fried cauliflower nuggets). Cold bottles of beer were thus the perfect accompaniment (keenly priced). In a word: outstanding; we’re desperate to go back. Don’t forget a pre- or post-prandial pint at the elegantly restored Boleyn Tavern (read the review here). Thattukada, 229 High St N, E6 1JG

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