East London Food & Culture

Samoan Joe's Leyton

Samoan Joe’s cocktail bar to open in Leyton Midland – plus 5 more top arrivals

An ambitious new speakeasy on Tilbury Road -plus Knots at Perky Blenders, Oishi, Ochi, Libertalia and Hotpod

Thanks to pioneering longstanding E10 businesses like Host, Perky Blenders, Gravity Well and Bamboo Mat (read all about their new menu here), it’s now all happening on the stretch of railway arches connecting Tilbury Road with Leyton Midland Road.

So here, without delay, are at least half a dozen reasons to get excited this spring and summer.

Samoan Joe's Leyton
Samoan Joe’s Leyton. Photos: Stephen Emms

1. Samoan Joe’s Cocktail Bar is opening

This season’s most tempting arrival is Polynesian-influenced cocktail bar Samoan Joe’s, launching very soon in the Tilbury Road arches, the name a homage to the infamous scene in East London’s classic 1998 gangster movie Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.

This week we popped down to the work-in-progress unit to catch up with owner Danny Saunders, the visionary local bloke behind the project, and a firm believer in community involvement and collaboration. “I was brought up in Leyton,” he said, “and my Dad used to own this stretch of arches. So when I happened to park up here recently and saw there was one To Let, all these years later, I couldn’t resist.”


Why the Lock, Stock reference? “It was set very near here,” he says, “the point being that Samoan Joe’s was an oasis in what was then a dodgy part of East London. But I didn’t want the reference to be too obvious: if you know it, you know it.”

Another fascinating fact, says Danny, is that these arches “were all originally banana storage that used to come from Tilbury Docks, hence the name of the road. Being Polynesian-themed, our cocktails will have a banana influence, which is a nice bit of continuity – but there’ll be all the usual classics on the menu too.”

Dan wants to keep the venue as under wraps as possible until launch, but we enjoyed a sneak preview (see pic, above). The surprisingly spacious interior will seat 50 punters, with a speedy cocktail hatch (run by neighbouring cocktail-on-tap business Point Cocktails) serving up to 200 punters in the car park, every summer weekend transformed into a huge outdoor bar and garden (we’ve seen the mock-ups and it is going to look incredible).

Draft beer will be on tap courtesy of neighbours Libertalia (see below), while alcohol-free cocktails will come from Kahol Spirits, also based in another unit on Tilbury Road: at Bamboo Mat we were fortunate enough to try both their AF dry gin and whisky, whose flavours are impressive. And food pop-ups will rotate in the car park, featuring local heroes like Burnt Smokehouse and seafood specialists Decatur (who have their own Arch Party tomorrow pm, May 4th).

Finally, the bar hopes to open for the last bank holiday weekend in May; until then the cocktail list and interior are firmly under wraps, says Danny. Follow @samoanjoesleyton

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Knots Leyton
Challah sub with smoked salmon, Knots Leyton. Photo: SE

2. Knots opens at Perky Blenders

We are the hugest stans of brunch stop the Good Egg, its Margate outpost especially. So, like most locals, we were thrilled that a spin-off, Knots, is the latest pop-up at coffee dons Perky Blenders. As well as various babka and pastries, its main USP is challah subs (plaited brioche-style loaves of white leavened bread) and, as we discovered ordering two sandwiches last Saturday morning, they’re packed with epic fillings. The one that really busted the hangover was the very moreish Reuben (£9), packed with pulled pastrami and salt beef, garlic, sauerkraut and pickles. Meanwhile the smoked salmon schmear (£7, above), with cream cheese, capers, red onion and dill, was pretty good, just not quite on the same elevated level. But we’re very happy this exists. Follow @__knots

Tilbury Road
Tilbury Road signage. Photo: SE

3. Libertalia expands

On the same strip as Samoan Joe’s is Libertalia taproom, which opened last summer, currently crowdfunding to double in size. “As a small but ambitious brewery,” says co-owner Matt, “we have big dreams of expanding our operations and reaching a wider audience, and as our popularity has grown tenfold (which we thank our lovely customers for!) we now feel we are ready to move on and upgrade. However, to turn these dreams into reality, we need your help.” Find out more about how you can help here. @libertaliabrewing

Ochi Leyton
Ochi Leyton on Tilbury Road. Photo: SE

4. Oishi and Ochi

There are two new food arrivals soon on Tilbury Road. Oishi (@oishidonldn) will serve Japanese comfort food including donburi rice bowls – although to begin with it will be a kitchen for their streetfood market stalls, events and festivals,  running “takeaways and occasional pop-ups in the car park,” they told us; meanwhile jerk specialists Ochi Caribbean (@ochi_cuisine), the latest project from local boy Del, who has run several local Jamaican restaurants, is opening any day now.

Leyton Midland
Leyton Midland: on the up. Photo: SE

5. Hotpod Yoga

Finally, on the Gravity Well side of the arches, the latest newcomer is HotPod Yoga, who opened in mid-April, the new neighbour of fitness studio Fit As. The pods form an immersive yoga environment that is regulated at 37 degrees, deepening the effects of a typical yoga class. “To support the opening of the studio, we will be hosting a series of complimentary taster classes for people to sample this unique yoga experience,” says Hotpod’s Rose. The perfect joint to sweat out all those Polynesian-inspired cocktails, then. @hotpodyogaleyton

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