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Collab

In food, Uncategorized on April 7, 2019 at 7:35 pm

After a film trip to see ‘Us’ at the Empire (great film) my partner and I went to Collab (God, that’s one dull web site they have) to try their winning sounding combination of beer and burgers. Especially as it’s on the site of the missed Grillstock.The name comes from the fact that it is a joint venture of Signature brewery (of Leyton) and  burger company We Serve Humans that previously operated as a pop up.

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I’m a big fan of “Keep it simple, do it well”

We’d made a reservation and it was just as well as the place was full on an early Saturday evening, even with the additional tables they now have with the smaller bar space. We had a friendly meet at the door, which always helps. The decor is frankly trying to clone Brewdog pubs, especially with the massive whiteboard behind the bar listing beers. there are some photos with a music theme, but actual decoration is minimal.

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Ah, the mock industrial look that launched a hundred hipster eateries…

Passing the bar I clocked the beer list… and the prices. The cheapest pint is £5. The Signature IPA I went for was £6.

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Now, to put my surprise into context: I drink in many craft and real pubs in London. The Euston and Waterloo Tap, the Craft chain, The Rake in Borough. I’m used to paying a price for good beer, especially interesting beer. But this range raised my eyebrows. I can afford the £6 pint of Backstage I had, but these are distinctly ‘Restaurant’ not ‘Pub’ prices.

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Branded glasses. Served nice and cold.

Not that I’d choose Collab as a drinking venue as all the seating seemed destined for diners or people who booked. The drinkers I saw stood at the bar with their coats on. A place where I’ll drink with dinner, but wouldn’t go early to drink first or stay for a couple after. For that I’d go 30 seconds up the road to Mirth, Marvel and Maude or over the hill to the Rose and Crown.  The beer list was heavily London and local oriented, which is nice.

Although with the additional seating it was rather loud on a Saturday night, with piped pop music and all the hard surfaces creating a natural white noise generator. The majority of the customers looked under 30, with a surprising number with children (this was at 6:30PM). My partner played her regular game of ‘Spot the fellow ethnics’ and managed to find one other non-white face in the crowd.

Apparently there is wifi, but I wasn’t bothered so didn’t ask for the password.

So at our table (where we were given a water jug and glasses by default, always welcome) we got into the menu. It’s all burgers and chicken wings, I felt. Some spicy, one with kimchee which I may try next time. No desserts. My partner went for the State of Democracy burger with chilli on it, with fries. I had the Chairman burger (Red onion jam) with sweet potato fries and we shared a Mac and Cheese.

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I like the enamelled metal plates it was all served on.

We were given the burger options of ‘pink’ or ‘well done’. And for once they actually mean pink. Health and Safety worrying pink. As a lover of a rare burger this was a rare treat. My burger was delicious. The sweet potato fries came with mayo and were very nice. We agreed the Mac and Cheese was a winner with a clear layer of melted cheese on top. I particularly enjoyed the diced pickled gherkin garnish.

Food prices were reasonable, for London. More than a chain nice burger chain (like the Honest Burger we’d had 2 weeks earlier, where I also drank Backstage).

So, my overall opinion? Well, for one I can never see myself drinking here. It’s  a restaurant with a bar and as a drinker I’d feel like a second class customer. I’d eat here again, happily. But would I eat here over Brioche Burger down the road? Hard to say. It has beer but Brioche Burger has the lovely mocktails. I call it a draw between the two. I hope it’s a success, but a busy Saturday shortly after opening isn’t a good indicator when weekday and lunches can make or break a venue.

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‘Cultural Revolution’ at William Morris

In Art, Uncategorized on April 7, 2019 at 2:42 pm

One of this weekend’s treats was visiting the Cultural Revolution display in the WM ground floor exhibition room. Having enjoyed an exhibition of Soviet propaganda art at the Tate and a propaganda show at the British Library I suspected this would be my cup of (green) tea.

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That “W00t” moment when your team wins.

The exhibition (touring as part of the Ashmoleam museum of Oxford) covers a 10 year period after the communist revolution where all art was legally required to serve the state. There is a lot of celebrating workers, soldier and peasants with references to Chairman Mao’s work. As well as posters there are some paper cut outs and my favourite, a collection of matchboxes with reminders on how to be a good citizen.

The exhibition is on until the 27th May and is free.

While you’re there drop into the little room behind the canteen for a little exhibition about the Haiku Adventure videogame being developed in North London by Small Island Games. It really fits in as SIG discuss in videos and examples how their game was inspired by Japanese wood prints in the same way William Morris was inspired by historical British design.

Borough of Culture opening weekend

In Borough of Culture, Events, Uncategorized on January 22, 2019 at 11:30 am

Well what a big start to the year. My partner’s parents made a trip over from West London on the Saturday and we got a cab over to Lloyd Park (the parents are in their 70’s and wanted to save their energy). We hoped by getting there at opening time we’d get in quickly. As we walked down Winns Terrace we saw instead we’d just joined at peak queue. But while it took an hiur to get in at least we got to enjoy the Nest installation from a distance.

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In the trees….

When we got in we went up the East path past the gallery where we were greated by the Sony Walkman logo #sarcasm

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The park had glowing white globes scattered about. A bit like an episode of ‘The Prisoner’.

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Rover!

When we came to the tennis courts the Walthamstow Film Club was holding a ‘silent cinema’ where we were handed a headset on the way in to listen to the soundtrack of the short films they were showing.

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Finally we can watch a film in the ‘stow without teenagers loudly talking!

The short films seemed to be about local people. It was a bit ‘Media Studies Final Year Project’ but heartfelt. We only watched a couple.

Hooking around to the island we approached the Nest as it was inactive and it came to life as we got to just outside the ring of motorised lights that it consists of. And as the choiral music built up we were awed by a swooping show of spiralling, swooping shafts of light. It was drizzling softly and the water drops were turned into tiny rainbows when they hit the powerful light beams.

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It’s so pretty!

It reminded me of the end of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. It was simple yet hugely effective, the lights making spots dance in the clouds and when lowered created lively shadows in the park’s trees.

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Take us to your leader

After the end of the show we came past the West side of the house. There was a street food market which we skipped, although we noted the lantern making workshop for kids. In from of the house on the ’roundabout’ were a bunch of gas fire sculptures, which also offered much appreciated warmth.

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It goes a bit ‘Mad Max’

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I bring you fire, do de doo doooo

We exited the park and made our way to the town hall via the road shut to traffic. More gas braziers lit the way and there were street performers coming in and out of the area.

 

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Triffid!

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Everything is better with a Samba band.

At the town hall my partner’s parents were starting to flag in the cold. So we didn’t go into the grounds and watched the show through the fence. In the grounds were more fire features (well, gardens can have water features so why not?). And night signs in the trees.

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The trees had been filed with light installations from God’s Own Junkyard creators.

The show projected on the town halls frontage, highlighting architectural details like windows and doors as individual elements.

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A lot of music and words from the people of Walthamstow.

Overall it was a great start to the year. Given the weather and the dark a light show makes heaps of sense. On the Saturday there were clearly thousands of people; the Bell was heaving, the chip shop had a queue for food and walking home along Hoe street a lot of the shops were doing business. A literal and figurative bright start to the year of being Borough of Culture.

Walthamstow Pride

In Events, Uncategorized on August 5, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Well, that’s a title I never thought I’d get to write!

After two homophobic attacks a group of local residents decided to take constructive action and last weekend was the inaugural Walthamstow Pride. With 2 months notice a bash was put together in the town square. A collection of stalls of local groups welcome us on a very sunny day and after a browse my partner and I stretched out on a bit of ‘grass’ (okay, by this point in the Summer the square is more of a desert). As often at events it was late getting starting, but a bit of music through the PA system set a nice mood. Eventually things got officially started by the organisers.

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The committee kicks things off.

(BTW I’m limiting myself to just that one photo. The committee are ‘public faces’ but I don’t want to help bigots find targets).

After introductions it started off with some live music by a guy with his guitar and a sample looper, which was nice.

Sadly after 2 hours we had to go to another event, so the late start meant we missed a bunch of it. But we were glad we turned up at the start when it was quiet. By the time we left there was around 100 people but totals apparently reached 500 in the early evening. And the evening events in the Rose and Crown and Chequers were apparently successful.

I think it achieved it’s goal and this little, quickly organised event will be even bigger next year.

‘Weaving New Worlds’ at the William Morris Gallery

In Art, Uncategorized on August 5, 2018 at 5:14 pm

While having a stroll past the WMG I noticed a new exhibition was on, ‘Weaving New Worlds’. The recent exhibition about Morris’ daughter was good so I nipped in for a look.

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It’s a collection for art by women weavers around the world. Some political, some personal, all varied. While it didn’t grab me personally the breadth of this small show, both thematically and geographically, is impressive.

Tapestry is a rare art medium; well done to the WMG for giving it more exposure.

Etles restaurant review

In food, Uncategorized on June 3, 2018 at 5:08 pm

After a nice afternoon watching ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ at the Empire my partner and I fancied getting some dinner. Feeling a bit experimental we took to Hoe street just past Central  to go to Etles.

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Etles serves Uyghur cuisine. They are an ethnic group that live across central Asia. Looking at the menu in the window I was much excited by talk for tripe and lambs hoof dishes. However my partner suggested a chicken dish, Dapenji, for two which sounded nice.

Inside there is a selection of ethnic art adorning the walls, including a number of nazar, that staple of Turkish culture. There only seemed to be one lady waiting tables, of which there were only a few, and she seated us straight away. We ordered our dish and some tea to go with it. We were distinctly asked whether we wanted the dish hot; we played safe and asked for mild.

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Not a music shop on Charing Cross Road

 

There were a mix of patrons in the restaurant. While there is no alcohol on the menu some seemed to have BYOB’d.

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A rich tapestry

There was an appetiser, whether it came with our dish or to all customers I don’t know. There was hummus with a couple of olives and flat bread, and some pickles. A nice start.

They were busy but the we didn’t have long to wait for our dish to arrive.

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This dish for “2 to 3” is about half a metre across!

Well, if you want Instagrammable food this is the place for you!

So this dish had lovely thick noodles which are clearly handmade in their slight inconsistency. Moist, tender chicken, potato and bell peppers seasoned with garlic, star anise, pepper corns, ginger, and ALL THE CHILLIS.

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Those burgundy tubes are literally a plate full of chillis after we’d finished

I suspect they used milder chillis to make the dish but it was still pretty hot and we were pretty sweaty! But the food was lovely and the sauce had a deep and rich flavour. And it was very filling for two.

The food came to £25 with £3 for a pot of tea for two (plus tip, obvs). We’re already talking of trying again and I have my eye on the tripe or lambs hoof courses. It’s one of the most alternative options for eating in the stow and I recommend it if you’re in a brave, experimental mood!

EDIT: Forgot an important point, they didn’t take card payments at the time so were cash only.

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.

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.