Monday, 28 November 2011

A review of The Pavilion

Image by Howard Barlow
Victoria Park, Crown Gate West, Mile End, London, E9 7DE.

I remember coming to The Pavilion before I moved to London and being shocked at how expensive the menu seemed. Now I’ve lived in London for a while, I’ve come to realise that the kind of consistency they deliver is worth paying for.

There aren’t many places that you can go to on any day of the week, even when they’re really busy, and still receive a hearty, spectacularly cooked breakfast. Whether you’re in the mood for a full on fry up or some decadent pancakes (piled three high and smothered with poached fruit and honeycomb butter), you can’t go wrong.

With a menu centred on breakfast, you can feast starting at around £5 although pastries etc. are obviously cheaper. There’s a full hot drinks menu as well as freshly squeezed juices and cans of fizzy pop (organic of course). The coffee is all expertly poured. We had two lattes and a cappuccino on my last visit with a heart, fern leaf and swan casually swirled into the top.


In the summer they pile the tables outside and pretty much treble the capacity. Despite the pond being drained this summer, it’s still a lovely place to while away a few hours and as soon as the water fills back up it’ll be even more idyllic. In the winter it’s a bit more of a squeeze inside. If you’re squeamish around either children or dogs, you might want to steer clear as their entry policy is extremely inclusive.

The Pavilion have a website and are on Twitter.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A review of Nude Espresso

Image from nudeespresso.com
6 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR
I popped into Nude Espresso on the way home yesterday evening as it seemed to be the only place still open around Spitalfields and Brick Lane to grab coffee and cake at 4.30pm. Although they close at 5 they were happy to serve drinks and cakes and for us to sit in to quickly warm up and refuel.

I had a hot chocolate which was rich without being sickly and they didn’t mess around with cream or marsh mellows, which I always turn down. My other half went for a flat white which was well poured, even though by a trainee. Their house blend seemed quite mellow with the warmed milk, although I did have an iced coffee from here back in the summer which packed a bit more of a punch.

They source, roast and blend their own coffee beans which you can buy for yourself and they also sell them wholesale to other businesses. With their roastery around the corner in the old cooperage yard of the Truman Brewery, the grind all goes on in the East End now, but the business has retained distinctive elements of its Kiwi heritage.

Image by @GarethReidPhoto
To accompany our drinks, we had a lamington, the presence of which pretty much made my day. A dream of vanilla sponge rolled in chocolate icing then desiccated coconut, I have never seen a lamington in the UK before, despite them being 10 a penny in Australia and New Zealand.

Their menu seems to revolve around cakes and breakfast which makes it pretty much perfect in my eyes. You can get some brunch from £2.50 for raisin toast, to £9.50 for a full on brekkie. The cakes are all around £2.50.

My only slight query about Nude Espresso is the rather utilitarian feel of the cafe seating. It’s not cosy, or somewhere I’d really want to while away an hour or so. This is probably its exact purpose - to deter lingerers who take up a seat for hours with only a latte and laptop to keep them company. But it does seem rather a shame for legitimate customers.

The staff were great though. And happily included me in their debate as to whether lamingtons are originally an Australian or New Zealand delicacy. I’ll leave you with that to ponder...

Nude Espresso website, Twitter, Facebook.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A review of Loafing

79 Lauriston Road, Victoria Park Village, London, E9 7HJ

I’ve had a horrid cough and cold lately so haven’t been out and about too much. However, the weather was beautiful today so my other half agreed to a walk in Victoria Park. Bundled up to protect my chest from the November chill, we ventured across the park to Lauriston Road. Stopping first for a swift half of Aspall and packet of crisps sitting in the sunshine outside the Royal Inn on the Park, I soon decided I needed something a little more warming and hearty.

We headed further in to Victoria Park Village and popped into ‘Loafing’, a tiny little cafe on the corner of Lauriston Road and Victoria Park Road. With a stunning window display of cakes piled high on a tower of glassware, I was curious as to the kind of savoury fare on offer. Our first selection was the cheese on toast and salmon and cream cheese sandwich. However, they’d had such a busy day that they’d run out of bread by 2.30pm (seems kind of ironic given their namesake) and only had focaccia to offer us. Going with their suggestion we had one toasted focaccia with mozzarella, olives, sunblushed tomatoes and basil, and another with mozzarella, parma ham and basil. Both were y-u-m-m-y. I had a latte and he had a cappuccino, as usual.

Most of the savoury menu is under a fiver and there’s a good selection of hearty sarnies and salads. A slice of cake is between £2 and £3 and there’s a large cold drinks cabinet as well as a full selection of hot drinks including Monmouth coffee and hot chocolate.

We could only get a table right by the front door and next to the counter so it wasn’t the most relaxing experience, with so many people coming and going. The indoor seating is limited, which I imagine may become a problem as the weather gets worse. However, today people seemed happy to sit both outside the front of the cafe and in its small back yard.

The decor is all distressed wood and vintage tea sets which looks great, but doesn’t make for very comfortable seating. I was perched on a cast iron garden chair, my fella on a rickety wooden one, and neither of us could fit our legs under the small table.


If you’re in the area and don’t fancy pub grub, then definitely give ‘Loafing’ a try. The whole experience was a little stressful, but the food and coffee delicious.

- Loafing doesn't seem to have a Facebook, Twitter or website. An interesting approach to marketing which rather suggests they don't care what people write about them...

All photography by Gareth Reid - @GarethReidPhoto

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A review of The English Restaurant

50/52 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AG.

I’ve been frequenting the English Restaurant (previously Market Coffee House) for a while now. Since before I moved to London in fact. Being so conveniently located near to Liverpool Street station and on the doorstep of Spitalfields and Brick Lane, it’s
one of those reliable places I just keep going back to. 

I was first drawn to its quintessentially British charms when showing my Dutch friend around the city. With so many chains and imports, it can be difficult to find somewhere so traditional yet down to earth. Yes, they do afternoon tea. But no, you don’t need to put your little finger up when drinking your tea. And they won’t mind if you just want to pop in for a coffee and a cookie either.

Serving breakfasts ranging from yogurts, cereals and compotes (my favourite!) to a full English there’s always something you fancy. And with prices ranging from £2 - £9 you can even afford to mix and match if you want to!

Lunch is a bit more of a formal affair (I’m sure I once had a cheese toastie but they must have gone upmarket of late) with a wide selection including soup, oysters and salt beef sarnies. Prices are still reasonable though (sea bass / steak comes in at £15.50). Afternoon tea is served from 3pm and includes finger sandwiches, scones, mini cakes and tea. At £11 per person it’s a good alternative to the much more pricey upmarket hotels.

I’ve never stayed for dinner and think that might be slightly out of the remit of this blog, however, I have met a friend here for an after work glass of vino once or twice and the evening atmosphere is just as convivial and the wine is yummy!

The English Restaurant has a website, and is on Facebook.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A review of Esca


160a Clapham High Street, Clapham, London, SW4 7UG

My sister and I ventured away from East London this weekend to sample the delights of Clapham. Despite the rumours, south London is not only the destination of choice for those seeking to settle down, procreate etc. but a haven of creativity. During our short visit, we ambled from Clapham South tube to Clapham Common, taking in innovative craft businesses (Papered Parlour, Sew over it), designers (Lisa Stickley) and a good few cafes.

Having exhausted our feet and purses at the Papered Parlour maker’s market and open studios, we found ourselves peckish so headed down the high street to deli/cafe/patisserie, Esca. On first entering I was transported back to a childhood fantasy, the ladder used to access the floor to ceiling shelving reminding me of a particular scene in a book shop in beauty and the beast... A good start if ever there was one.


I describe Esca as a deli/cafe/patisserie because it’s almost impossible to categorise. The wall shelving is piled high with jams, preserves, olive oil, teas and seasonal produce, the front window bursting with pastries, cakes, slices and bakes and the fridges inside laden with salads, sandwich fillings and more hearty options such as baked cod or lasagne.

A real feast for the senses – you’re almost paralysed by choice. 


Not wanting to miss out on what could prove to be their trump card, we mixed and matched a pesto chicken filled wholemeal baguette, with a beetroot and orange salad, then went for the croissant pudding (with cream). Washed down with a pink lemonade and Earl Grey tea, the bill came in at about £10 each.

The food was delicious and the staff impeccably attentive and friendly. It was reasonable priced and there was plenty of communal seating at the back. My only criticism would be that, compared to the visual feast at the front of the shop, the seating area had a distinct lack of chemistry or charm. It was functional, but not somewhere I’d be tempted to linger were it not for the fantastic food.

All in all, a lovely day out.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A review of Jones Dairy cafe


23 Ezra Street, London, E2 7RH (behind the Royal Oak pub on Columbia Road)

For a quiet breakfast on a Saturday morning in East London, you might want to try Jones’ Dairy cafe. On a Sunday it’s packed with people grabbing takeaways and oysters which is great in its own right, but not what you want if you’re after a relaxing brunch.

On Saturday mornings however, it’s usually nice and quiet with a selection of seating either outside, in the ‘lean-to’ or within the solid bricks and mortar of the cafe-proper. Tucked behind the deli, and down a cobbled side street, it’d be easy to miss were it not for the chalk board sentries at either end of the alleyway.

The quality of food here is without question (they specialise in organic, locally produced, and fair trade produce, sourced direct from the farm where possible), but the service is rather less than speedy. Some might see this as a criticism, but I for one like to be reminded to slow down a bit sometimes. After all, if you’re out for brunch at the weekend, what’s the rush? It’s a good thing in my eyes to be encouraged to pore over the menu, drink a whole cup of coffee before breakfast arrives and have time to read the weekend paper almost cover to cover. What else are weekends for?

It’s encouraging to note that this review is somewhat delayed because I had to return two weeks in a row to collect the photographic evidence I need to create a proper review. The first time, my breakfast arrived and I ate it so fast I forget to take a picture. That’s got to be a good sign right?

The first time, I had the full English breakfast. Some may say it’s expensive at near to £9, but bear in mind that this includes tea or coffee and toast with butter and jams on the side. Two people can have more than they could ever need to eat and drink for £20 with tip included. I think that’s pretty good myself.

The breakfast is a traditional affair - refreshing in the modern world of avocado and chipolata invasion.

There are plenty of other options if you don’t fancy the full breakfast with pastries, bagels, fish and plenty of variations of eggs to choose from. On my second visit I had the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon which, although swimming in a questionable substance I took to be milk, tasted delicious.

I’ve read a couple of reviews which note the ‘curt’ attitude of the staff, and did notice that the woman in charge seemed a little fraught. However, the weekend waitress staff were very polite and helpful. If you aim to turn up for about 11am there should be two on hand to see you right.

All in all, a lovely breakfast and cosy atmosphere. I almost can’t wait for it to start getting cold...

Jones Dairy has a website.


Monday, 12 September 2011

A review of Long White Cloud

151 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL

Always after a decent cooked breakfast within stumbling distance from our hovel, my fella and I set out on Saturday morning on the prowl for an antipodean-inspired breakfast of generous proportions. We ended up at Long White Cloud, a relatively new cafe/gallery/retail space on Hackney road currently sporting an exhibition entitled, ‘into the wild.’

If the birthing leopard/lady mural on the way in isn’t enough to put you off your eggs, it’s worth persevering and spending the required £10 to get yourself one of their ‘full’ breakfasts and a coffee or fruit juice. I went for the veggie option, which was creatively put together without a piece of ‘baconesque’ in sight. Managing to fill the plate with grilled halloumi, courgette, peppers, toast, beans (with a hint of cinnamon I think?), fried egg and spinach, was an impressive result in a city still not quite fully embracing our veggie pals.

Being nearly six foot, I eat a lot and am rarely satisfied with a meat free option. However, I am amazed to report that the veggie breakfast was enough to fill me up, not only until dinner, but throughout the teasing food parade which is Broadway market. I even turned down a cupcake.

My better half went for the scrambled eggs with chilli, which was also generously proportioned, but disappointingly under seasoned. I say under seasoned, by which I mean not seasoned at all. However, there were salt and pepper grinders on hand to rectify the situation quick smart.

I had a fresh orange juice which was delightful and without ‘bits,’ as I’m sure many will be pleased to hear. He had a cappuccino, which was a bit ‘milky’ (we like cappuccinos quite dry, i.e. the milk foamed, not just heated) but very tasty all the same.

 Venturing past the various wall hangings and two upright pianos which form the back of the food counter, I happened across a small stock of Aussie/Kiwi consumables. Seeing as I have rather a soft spot for caramel TimTams (they’re like penguin bars with caramel in), I found their stash rather endearing. However, I’m not sure being all things (cafe/gallery/shop), to all people (Londoners/Kiwis/Aussies) will work for everyone. My fella, for one, seemed all at sea.

Long white cloud are on Twitter and have a website

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Word cloud

I created this lovely word cloud of my blog using Wordle.net. I thought it was pretty accurate.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A cafe crawl – Old Street/ Hackney Road

I feel bad for neglecting my blog of late (due to lounging on a beach in Greece) so am doing a ‘bumper’ blog post today with details of a rather decadent cafe crawl from Old Street station down Hackney Road towards east London.

This may seem like a bit of an odd route, so I’ll let you in on my inspiration: the number 55 bus. I get this bus, on this route, every day at 8am and then again at 5.30pm. I spend the 20 minutes it takes to get from Pritchard’s Road to Old Street, not only wedged under someone’s armpit, but staring out the window as an abundance of cafes speed by.

Given my never-ending cafe curiosity, you can appreciate that it’s about as much as I can do to not leap off the bus everyday to sample their delights. So, today I decided to boycott the bus and walk, stopping off to have a quick nose in each one and make a note of it for you. I will return to each and every one in due course for a full review, but for now, here’s a little taster:


Shoreditch Grind
213 Old Street
London EC1V 9NR
(Exit 8, Old Street Tube)

Website

Only opened in June, this trendy street-side coffee bar does caffeine, cake, pastries, gourmet sandwiches and salads at surprisingly affordable prices.

Full review here.


Foodhall
374-378 Old Street
London EC1V 9LT

Mouth-watering delicatessen and deli, I only don’t stop by here on a daily basis because the prices are a little steep. Cosy cafe at the back serves roasts on a Sunday and other lunch options daily.

Review coming soon.


The Old Shoreditch Station
1 Kingsland Road
London E2 8AA

Website

This cafe/bar inhabits an old station. With a ‘focus on great coffee during the daytimes and on whiskeys, wines and specialty beers in the night-times,’ you’ll be lucky to find a seat past 6pm.

Review coming soon.


Long White Cloud
151 Hackney Road
London E2 8JL

Website

Badging itself as ‘Cafe, Gallery and Retail space’, this kiwi-export serves brunch and lunch in true Antipodean style.

Full review here.


The Premises 
209 Hackney Road
London E2 8JL

Website

Attached to the music studio of the same name, the Premises does traditional English breakfasts (including a vegie option), lunches and Turkish dishes – an odd combination perhaps? We’ll see.
Review coming soon.


Esoteria Espresso Bar 
276 Hackney Road
London E2 7SJ

Website

Coffee, cakes, tarts, savoury muffins, mini pies, bircher muesli and salads, this tiny cafe right on Hackney Road is popular for breakfast due to its convenient takeaway window.

Review coming soon.



Frizzante CafĂ© 
Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
London E2 8QA

Website

Italian cafe/restaurant located on site at Hackney City Farm. Italian coffee, cakes, and a big Farm breakfast sit alongside their Mediterranean themed menu.

Review coming soon.

A review of Shoreditch Grind

213 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR (Exit 8, Old Street Tube)

Only opened in June, this trendy street-side coffee bar does caffeine, cake, pastries, gourmet sandwiches and salads at surprisingly affordable prices. Their cinema-esque signage adds a touch of humour with an ever changing slogan - follow them on Twitter and you might even get to suggest one.

I’m really pleased (if a little surprised) to report that this new Shoreditch coffee destination is uncharacteristically unpretentious, with realistic prices and a relaxed atmosphere. We stopped by on a Saturday morning and were greeted by a short queue and our choice of the seating on offer.

We had a cappuccino, latte and pain au chocolat as (regrettably) it was too early for lunch. They use their own house blend of coffee, and I must admit I found it rather too bitter and had to add some sugar to enjoy my latte. However, I know that many like their coffee tongue-tingling so cannot really mark them down on this front.

Window-side stools with easy access to plugs for your laptop straddle the floor to ceiling windows, allowing you to catch up on some work/socialising whilst quenching your thirst and appetite. The two magazines left strewn on the tables (MensHealth and The Economist) hinted at the usual weekday clientele, but at the weekend we felt at home next to firemen, tourists, and local scenesters.

The unparalleled fishbowl view of Old Street round-a-bout becomes unexpectedly picturesque when framed by their windows, and I would easily dally for a while people watching over lunch on a future visit.

Check out their website, or follow them on Twitter.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

A recipe for... bread

I’ve always been very nervous about bread-making. Cakes? Yes. Muffins? No problem. Bread? Much too scary. However, I recently went to a friend’s for dinner and was more than a little impressed when she whipped out a homemade loaf in that Blue Peter, ‘and here’s one I made earlier’ fashion.

Asking what her secret was, my friend (quite rightly) had no shame in admitting that she uses a supermarket bought bread mix and the bread hook attachments on her food mixer to ensure a reliable result every time. The different varieties of bread mix on offer these days and the simple method of ‘just add water’ means there’s no excuse for not giving it a go. So I did.

Opting for Wright’s mixed grain bread mix I spent a very pleasant afternoon mixing, kneading and waiting for the bread to prove and then bake. The process was more labour intensive than cake making, even with the readymade bread mix, but the results were stunning (see image above) and we literally polished off half the loaf within an hour of it coming out the oven.

So, part one of bread-gate over, I felt I had proved to myself than I wasn’t a completely useless baker. However, I am one of those people that find it hard to stop at the halfway point. Initial success is often enough to spur me on to more and more ambitious projects which most often do not end well....

However, in this case I surprised myself. I already had some strong bread flour left over from recent pizza making and topped it up with some plain flour to form the basis of my first loaf from scratch. This is how it went (recipe based on one from The River Cottage Family Cookbook):

200g strong wholemeal flour
300g plain flour
Salt, 2 teaspoons
Fast action yeast, 1 sachet
Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Honey, 2 teaspoons
Warm water, 300ml


1.    Mix the flour salt and yeast together in a big mixing bowl
Pour the oil and honey into a measuring jug and top up with warm water from the hot tap up to 300ml, stir together
Pour the water mix into the flour a bit at a time mixing it together with one hand as you go
Keep going until all the water is in the bowl and the dough has come together (add extra water if too dry and extra flour if too wet/sticky)

2.    Flour a work surface and knead the dough on it by pushing down and away from you – you need to squash it and stretch it at the same time – for about 10 mins or until it feels smooth
Shape the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Put it somewhere warm and sheltered from drafts.

3.    Leave until doubled in size – 40 mins to an hour, grease a loaf tin while you’re waiting then have a bath, or read your book, or make some muffins to pre-heat the oven

4.    Take your dough out of it’s warm hidey-hole and squish the air out of it with your fist
Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 30 secs then shape it into a sausage and place in your loaf tin

5.    Leave to rise in your warm place again with a tea towel over for 30 mins (eat a muffin and have a cup of tea) Pre heat your oven to its highest temperature

6.    After 30 mins the dough should have risen and look more loaf shaped, put it in the oven at top temperature for 20 mins then take it out, tip it out of the tin and tap the bottom. It’s cooked if it sounds hollow.
Cool on a cooling rack for 20 mins and then have a slice with some butter on while it’s still warm. Try not to eat the whole loaf at once.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A review of Franze & Evans

101 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DL

On a hot day like today, one of the last things even I want to do is sit in a packed cafe and eat a full cooked breakfast. However, when the fridge is empty and heat exhaustion prevents a trip to the supermarket (the risk I might actually get into one of the freezers is just too great) the temptation of someone else slaving over a hot stove to deliver some sumptuous fare is inviting to say the least.

Arriving at Brick Lane to find an ambulance car tending to one of our local domestically-challenged, I was glad to be able to head away from the bustling street market and up the much more civilised Redchurch street to find Franze & Evans delicatessen. Languidly straddling the street corner, with floor to ceiling windows thrown open to invite a cooling breeze, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this corner of Shoreditch for somewhere a lot more, well, European.

The Mediterranean influence spills over into the decor and menu with packets of pasta lining the shelved walls and Tuscan sausages and slow-roasted Sicilian tomatoes making their way into the breakfast offerings. I went for the scrambled eggs with chives and slow-roasted Sicilian tomatoes on toasted sourdough and a latte, my better half opting for the slightly more adventurous Portobello mushrooms with spinach, poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce on English muffins with a cappuccino.

The ordering went smoothly, and once we’d extracted our meals from the ladies sitting next to us when they were inadvertently delivered to the wrong people the waitress was very apologetic. The espresso was lovely with a refreshingly definite difference between the latte and cappuccino, something I find rarer and rarer these days. The eggs were cooked faultlessly and portions were generous without being too optimistic.

 All in all it was a splendid breakfast experience, if a little pricey at over £20 for two breakfasts and drinks. Although in Shoreditch, what can you expect?

My only concern is that I was too full after my brekkie to manage any of their dribble-inducing cakes. Oh well, there’s always another day...

Check out Franze & Evans’ website.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A great British day out

Saturday. A day designed for hedonistic pursuits. A day cut free from the restraints of the morning alarm or commute to work. A day for adventure.

By gum, I think we’ve got it! After living in London for several months, we now seem to have got to grips with making the most of living in the big city. I’ll let you into the secret. You have to leave the immediate vicinity of where you live.

We’re very lucky to live within a stone’s throw of plenty of distractions with which to while away our weekends, so have to make a concerted effort to get out and about. This weekend, the excuse was made for us as I had booked us tickets to go and see Disney’s 1986 classic – Basil the Great Mouse detective at the South Bank cinema.

Arriving via Temple tube station, we were able to wander across Waterloo Bridge and take in many of London’s iconic landmarks: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye etc. etc. This experience in itself lended a kind of majesty to our day trip, making us feel, as the Kiwis would say, we were ‘getting in amongst it’. Add to that the fact that we had accidently happened upon the Festival of Britain, a four-month celebration of British culture and creativity on the South Bank, and we were scoring double points.

Choc-full of live music performances (and rather an abundance of steel drum troupes), art installations in beach huts, a water fountain maze and roof top garden with cafe/bar, it was easy to while away a few hours after the film drinking in the carnival atmosphere.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden was created by the Eden Project with help from the homeless, ex-prisoners, local schools, youth groups and neighbours. Designed by Eden’s landscape architect Jane Knight and designer Paul Stone, it’s a real British garden, with vegetable patches, herb gardens, immaculately groomed lawn and a rosebud ‘walk’. The fact that you can drink in nature, some of the best sights in London and a glass of your favourite vino whilst there makes it a clear winner in my eyes.

However, the highlight for us had to be the Real Food Market, around the side of the Royal Festival Hall. There was everything you would expect from real British food, from ‘biodynamic’ beef burgers, to cheese counters, Colchester oysters, and Cornish cider. We, of course, had to sample a little bit of everything and practically had to roll home. A great British day out if ever I had one.

The Festival of Britain at the South Bank Centre runs until 4 September 2011.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Review of the Towpath Cafe


Regent's Canal towpath, between Whitmore Bridge and Kingsland Road Bridge, N1 5SB


Exploring east London as we often do at the weekend, the fella and I decided to test how long it would take to walk from Broadway Market to Angel down our local canal. Turns out, about an hour with a coffee stop.

Wandering down the narrow tow path, only just avoiding oncoming cyclists and keen Sunday joggers, we felt a little stressed at times on our outdoor pursuit but persevered nonetheless. Being one of the only vaguely warm days we’ve had in July so far, we were soon parched from weaving in and out of the tow path traffic and so were delighted to find a canal-side cafe ready to rehydrate us.

Beautifully and resourcefully kitted out, the cafe makes use of three tiny storage bays along the side of the canal and spills out onto the path with wooden tables and brightly coloured chairs. It’s currently being marketed as part of the Shoreditch Festival, but otherwise has a rather quiet existence below the radar of social media and other avenues of announcing itself. You have to explore to find this place (or have a knowledgeable friend/blogger who can recommend it to you).

The apparent lack of a menu confused us at first and we were a little put off that there was no clear list of food/drink on offer or any clear pricing but a quick chat with the lady behind the counter was enough to secure us some cloudy apple juice. We didn’t stop to eat, but those around us had rustic looking plates of hearty, seasonal fare which, were I not on a mission, I would have tarried longer to sample.

The Shoreditch Festival is in its tenth year and offers a free program of performance, entertainment and exploration in spaces alongside Regent’s Canal between 15 and 24 July 2011.