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Brioche Burger

In food, Uncategorized on April 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm

After seeing the delightful ‘Love, Simon’ at the Empire last Saturday my partner and I decided to double up our spending in the local evening economy and give Brioche Burger on Hoe Street a try. We both love a good burger and had been meaning to go since it opened.

Nice logo. Says what needs to be said.

We got there at a good time (about 6:30) as it soon started to fill up. I didn’t know they were Halal until we sat; I’d usually avoid places that are due to animal treatment concerns, but I’m told that is less of a problem nowadays. It also explained the lack of booze on the menu. Sadly their milk shake machine was broken but we tried  a couple of mocktails alongside the beef burger for me and the lamb burger for my partner. I did ask for ‘rare’ but like most burger joints post-CJD scare they went for ‘medium’. They also do Wagyu beef burgers for twice as much – sorry, but a £15 burger needs the option of enjoying that quality of beef bleeding.

While we waited we admired the decor, a mix of American diner wannabe and original fittings.

Original tiles left on one wall.

I spent the short time waiting unsuccessfully trying to connect to the wifi. No matter, the food arrived promptly.

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I think this burger was called ‘Hand of The King’

The burgers were very good. Also the sweet potato chips I ordered and my partner’s rustic chips were nice.

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Don’t get me started on drinks served in mock jars.

My mango and mint Mocktail was really lovely. While I’d still like to try their milkshakes I’d very happily put away one of these again.

It’s clear they cater to the local Muslim community who made up the majority of the clientele. It’s nice to see a restaurant for what is probably an underserved section of the community and with Grillstock folding other burger loving consumers will go their way. I rather like Brioche Burger and think I will be back after another cinema trip in the near future.

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Forest Bar + Kitchen

In food, Uncategorized on March 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Having been a long time fan of Forest Wines I was really excited that they were opening a bar on my commute. Ali and Jana had created a great off licence that supports local producers, has a curated stock and takes part in local events.

Forest Bar + Kitchen had a soft take off and currently (March 2018) are open just Friday and Saturday 6PM to 11PM. Since I only have a couple of nights a week to myself and neither are Friday or Saturday I’d had to make do with dropping in on a Friday just to offer a quick congratulations. But this week my partner, who isn’t much of a bar person, was curious enough for us to make a pre-dinner short walk to give them a try.

Knowing they opened at 6 we arrived at ten past, knowing how packed I’d seen it on Friday. And even then there were half a dozen customers already in!

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Obviously they have a wide selection of wines. (Apologies for only taking one photo all evening. A bit remiss of me.)

We settled in at bar stools in the window leaving the mahoosive steel frame, thick wooded top table in the centre to those eating. The food menu is of the short-but-interesting variety where I could not tell you what most of the dishes actually were, my french being non-existant (“Non!”). There is a long wine list and a short beer list, mirroring Forest Wine’s selection of a wine merchant with some beer. Off the beer list my partner went for a Wu Gang Chops the Tree from Tottenham’s Pressure Drop brewery. I started with a Table Beer IPA from South London’s Kernal Brewery followed by a Gamma Ray from local super star brewery Beavertown. Breaking up the list of London beers was Schihallion from Scots producer Harvistoun. There will be spirits in the future but they are rotating their inventories at the moment to see what the customer base prefers. It has a very ‘Lean Startup’ feel to their agile adaptability.

The bar is nicely fitted out. the window shelves and main table were sourced from an upcycling team called City Wood. Apparently Jana hand finished them all. The smooth tops and rough hewn edges are very tactile. All seating is bar stools which makes best  use of the limited floorspace (I’d say capacity is about 25) but to be borne in mind if visiting with people who have mobility issues requiring regular chairs.

My partner enjoyed sitting, chatting and playing with our phones. We usually like a window seat but Forest Road hardly offers the human zoo found in the West End. I particularly like the soundtrack, a lot of synth music sounding rather Radio 6. Apparently all chosen by the chef! Well, if they have to listen to it for 5 hours I guess you should let the staff choose it.

As the evening went on it rapidly filled with Ali and his team trying to engineer space for everyone. I’m really glad that 3 weeks in it is proving popular. They will add Thursday evenings soon which will suit me better for a drink on the way home from work. With the lack of evening venues in the area, especially high quality ones, I think Ali and Jana have yet again sniped a gap in the market and done a great job in making it theirs.

‘No Ordinary Bicycle’ exhibition

In Events, Uncategorized on January 20, 2018 at 4:43 pm

With a change of plans my partner and I found ourselves remaining in the stow this weekend. With inclement weather we decided to go and check out the new exhibition at Vestry House museum.

Before we got to the exhibition space we found the room to the left of the entrance had had a redesign. When I moved to the stow it had a fascinating exhibition of Walthamstow’s cinematic history but that was replaced by a boring, generic room about the Tudors. However it now has a show about Vestry house itself and tying into that the history of poorhouses of the time. There is also an 1822 map of Walthamstow and my partner and I had fun picking out landmarks.

We then moved on to the new temporary exhibition. ‘No Ordinary Bicycle’ celebrates the desinf achievements of Walthamstow born engineer John Kemp Starley. He invented the modern bicycle as we now know it, with equal size wheels and a chain driven rear wheel utilising a diamond shape frame. But with his improvements came a social revolution of affordable transport. This is explored in amusing detail in the 15 minute animated film and then expanded on with the surrounding material.

It’s a fascinating show, illustrating how good design can have huge social change contributin to female emancipation and expanding the gene pool!

Glow London clothes shop

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

At the Walthamstow Garden Party my partner and I met a local clothes designer who makes some lovely retro ladies clothes. We had a nice chat and my partner bought a 50’s style skirt in a very African style print that she has been wearing all Summer.

Well Glow now have their own shop at 4 Central Parade!

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Classic styling, modern edge.

They have a modern sparse, airy shop. The owner told us that a lot of work had to be done as it was a bit neglected but they have spruced it up with nice displays and artwork by Static London.

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Clothes from other designers are for sale, with more on the way

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Other designer goods are for sale.

My partner is very happy that a high end clothes shop has opened. Along with the neighbouring pop up shop and Central Parade space the uplift of How Street is gathering pace.

The Village Festival

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

On a lovely, sunny Saturday myself and Madam Weird fancied getting out of the house. And the Village Festival was a very convenient excuse. After fuelling up on toasties at Central Parade we wandered into the Village.

Orford road was shut off to traffic (as usual) and there were plenty of people about. There were some local craft stalls and food sellers, plus extras down side roads and in the community centre. A stage had been set up for local musicians and a choir was keeping the crowd entertained.

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The choir singing Talking Heads ‘Road to Nowhere’.  Surely a Mini-Holland in joke on Orford Road?

We perused stalls. I’d noted a police control truck on a side street and at one point there were three pairs of officers in Orford Road. Maybe they’d missed out on getting Notting Hill Carnival overtime or maybe they think the number of trust fund owners in the Village would draw criminals in?

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A good turnout.

Regardsless it all seemed to be going swimmingly. We bumped into Stella Creasy and had a lovely catch up. Watching Stella wrestle with he balloon’s string while trying to write down my email address was the most joyful thing I’ve seen in ages.

Afterwards my partner indulged my beer nerdity and we drifted down to the Ravenswood estate. God’s Own Junkyard had many visitors and their garden is looking lovely. We chilled at Wildcard and I had a pint of the Joker lager for the first time (it’s okay, their golden and IPA are better). Then a quick visit to Pillers for some beer takeout and a chat. I was there for their launch and their first birthday is coming up so I must get along to that. I got to catch up with one of the founders talk about their recent tap room specials and their lovely new Mural.

I often feel the village is a bit seperate from the rest of Walthamstow. But days like this show how it is one of the most prolific areas at inviting people in.

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Pillers mural in progress.

Warner Road Street Party

In Events, Uncategorized on July 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm

My better half lives on leafy, pleasant Warner Road. We’d been to a street party with fellow residents before but I had to miss the last one in 2015 and my partner wasn’t there long due to a health problem.

After a rainy Saturday we’d worried about the weather but heading up at 10:30 to help set up it was cool and sunny. More organised neighbours had gotten everything booked; the permits to close the road, bouncy castle and the Rose and Crown pub supplying the beer. So we just had to help with fetching and carrying. St Michaels church lent us tables from their hall so we helped carry thos around and I climbed on on to help put the beautiful, hand made bunting up.

People started drifting up from the rest of the street. It was quiet at first but as one resident, Dave, pointed out they’d all been busy cooking! My partner and I had just brought supermarket nibbles (we’re not great in the kitchen) but others brought amazing pakura, samosas, croquettes, pasta and salads.

We have a surprising number of kids on the street and they’d soon started running around with water pistols, bouncing on the inflatable castle, playing ping-pong, drawing or just loading up on enough sugar to fuel an elephant. Some of the more constructive adults had fun making go karts for the kids, although watching them have fun with power tools became a spectator event in itself!

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The bouncy castle was in constant use the whole afternoon!

The adults loaded up a different way; some had brought drinks (including one who simply emptied a case of Kronenburg for everyone) but many of us enjoyed the ELB Pale ale and Millwhites cider put on by Viv from the Rose and Crown. Who probably did more business by bringing along Murphy, an adorable pup for us to all coo over.

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It was sunny most of the afternoon. It wasn’t to last…

One great addition to this party were the hand made name badges. It made it all easier to chat without worrying about forgetting names.

I wasn’t intending to stay the whole afternoon but had such a good time I was still there when we started to tidy up at 5PM. Which was perfect timing as the clouds had started to roll in. The rain started up light at first but gradually accelerated and I was drenched through carrying tables back to the hall. But many hands make light work and we’d soon deconstructed it to the gazebos with the last drinks of the day being consumed.

There’s a lot of use of the word ‘community’ when people talk online about Walthamstow. When I moved to London 20 years ago I left behind a life where if people didn’t know me they’d often know a family member or a mutual acquaintance. London was a new life and I adored the anonymity of the big city. But nowadays there are many opportunities to engage as much or little as one likes.  The whole street party was organised through the Facebook group for street residents. There are online groups for local selling and swapping and a while one for local whinging. People are self organising into communities without the weight of expectation of level of involvement.

Nowadays I’m enjoying my local community, virtual and real. Shit, I even started a blog about it.

Spring Cafe, Forest Road

In food, Uncategorized on July 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

Today was a rare Saturday where I get a lie in at my flat and not my partner’s. So I decided to treat myself to breakfast at Grill on the Hill and form an opinion for a review.

They were shut. On a Saturday morning.

Being the ‘adapt and overcome’ type I moved on to Spring cafe, half way down to Blackhorse Road station. I must have walked past a thousand times, usually late in the evening when they are shut. So today became the day to give them a try!

The décor is very ‘caff’. Lots of London pictures like they want tourists to feel at home.

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The ‘London’ tablecloths

I ordered a set breakfast. Eventually. The staff member who took my order assumed I was trying to order off the other breakfast menu. When I said the set 3 breakfast I had to then describe the contents as the staff member wasn’t tall enough to see the menu board over the fridge. Ho hum.

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There are also impressive indoor plants!

While waiting I noticed they have a 4/5 council rating, which is respectable.

My fryup was typical of other local eateries. The bubble n’ squeak was particularly chunky, with plenty of veg in it. At one point they propped the front door open; like cafe 56 I don’t think exposing your customers to extra bus fumes is particularly helpful.

I think I have a softer spot for Rodi and Jessies but Spring is a reasonable fall back option.

The Great Get Together

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2017 at 8:56 am

Before anything else yeah, I know I didn’t write about the Art Trail. We just did a few of the showings on Hoe Street on the first weekend, as well as seeing a few around town. Look, if you’re the sort of person who reads local blogs you already knew and probably planned out a whole weekend to see as much as possible like artistic Pokemon. So lets just take it as read, m-kay?

On the anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox there was a nationwide celebration of community and we had one here in Walthamstow town square. I arrived with my partner just as Stella was opening the event. We gratefully had some of the free food laid on by Deja Vu Garden (who I must try soon) and settled in a bit of shade. The DJ played music, kids played, people lounged. I grabbed a beer (and water) from the supermarket and just chilled.

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The first of a number of local musicians.

There were performances over the afternoon from local singers, the Rose & Crown choir and some drummers. My partner and I had a walk around the stalls and made a donation to the wonderful local food bank Heat or Eat. There was a van where locals could randomly meet others from the community.

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I reckon we had a couple of hundred people at peak

As the evening wore on we came to the point where the Muslim community was about to break it’s fast. There had been a number of tickets to join them for Iftar but for the rest of us lovely Sodo pizza and Roosters chicken put on plentiful free food. The food was preceded by statements of community by Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Humanist representatives.

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Council leader Clare Coghill joined in too.

Even as the evening came to it’s end at 10PM there was still food being handed out including lovely cups of dates.

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Stella helping to hand out food while having a bop

It’s easy to talk about community but I wonder if we could have had a bigger turn out. I’m sure team running it did everything they could to publicise it but I suspect there are many people here who are so disconnected they don’t follow local blogs like this or chat on Walthamstow Life. I hope at least some of them were passing and came and sat a while. I hope they’d feel like they belonged.

‘Twas Ever Stow’ Exhibition

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2017 at 7:05 pm

There was a little craft market today in a car park on Hoe Street. Just a half dozen stalls but cute (apparently they may be there on future Sundays). But while there we were handed a flyer on a new free exhibition in the council shop on Hoe Street (where they have the pop ups) so we dropped in for a look.

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No photos were allowed inside so this is the sign in the window

The show is a celebration of the local shopping streets of High Street and Hoe Street. There are some paintings and lots of photos from each street showing the history of their development. There are quotes from local residents on display on what it was like to shop here plus focuses on a few key shops (surprisingly Sainsburys is one).

It’s a nice little exhibition and well worth dropping in to see.

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And local stained glass in the other window.

Oxjam

In music, Uncategorized on November 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I posted a little while back about Oxjam, a charity music event supporting Oxfam. My partner and I got to go along for a couple of hours and I had a really great time.

In my 20’s I went to a lot of pub gigs and I had a thrill of nostalgia as we went up to the Rose & Crown’s function room, made our donation and got the traditional stamp on the back of the hand. We’d come in as the Wondersmiths were playing.

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The Wondersmiths clearly loving what they do

They’re  a melodic punk band to me. The singer reminded me a lot of Jordan Pundik from New Found Glory. As ever witha  pub gig the sound balance meant he was drowned out sadly, but performed with much zest!

The room was pretty full with around 30 people, although I later realised the back function room had been opened as a bar with some more in (I went downstairs to get real ale off the taps).

After a break it was time for Velodrome. I did not realise at the time but this was in fact organiser Katherine Evans! I wish I’d known, I’d have loved to meet and congratulate her. There was some wonderful unintentional comedy while her sound tech tried to stop the speakers from exploding.

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Velodrome opens her set.

Wow, what a set. With a couple of costume changes (I am so very annoyed the photo of the Tiger onsie did not come out) she was reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury. Playing guitar and bass with her laptop she reminded me of Laptop (Jessie Hartman’s solo project). Musically her dulcet tones and rhythmic guitar brought to mind The Nields on the guitar songs, but also The Knife on the more electronic tracks.

I was so very happy to be able to buy a CD of her music on the way out. Although tape albums were available; very hip. I was tempted, but having hundreds of tapes accumulated through my teen and student years I try to at least move forward with my technology. (I’m enjoying listening to the CD as I write this).

Sadly I was limited to just a couple of hours of this all evening gig. And I really mean that; I am genuinely sad I missed all the other bands. Very well done to Katherine, the volunteers and the bands involved. I’d love this to be an annual event. It’s exactly the sort of thing I hoped to find when I started this blog.