Apologies if you clicked on a link hoping for a belated review of East 17’s seminal debut album, I’m actually here to spread the word about the wonderful pocket of London that it is E17. Walthamstow used to be in the county of Essex, but it became part of Greater London in 1965 and has seen significant gentrification since the 2012 Olympics. It is also helpfully placed on the Victoria Line and is easily reached by train from Liverpool Street. After hearing great things from local photographers Chris & Ian, I decided I gotta do something and so set aside a free Saturday to explore with friends.
After an early start, coffee was needed. We headed straight for Today Bread near Walthamstow Central station before going off in search of brunch. It’s an interesting café & bakery that also does home delivery and supplies many local shops. Today Bread is tucked inside Walthamstow’s Central Parade building that is also home to several incubator spaces for small businesses. Other good caffeine options include E17 Village Market (Saturdays only currently) where you’ll find Perky Blenders coffee roasters; Froth and Rind over the road is great for coffee, beer AND cheese – what’s not to love?; and further afield 56 St James Street, HUCKS and Wood St Coffee come highly recommended. Perhaps don’t visit them all in one day or you’ll be up all night. We pushed on up Hoe Street past Sodo Pizza Café, Mirth, Marvel & Maud (an Antic pub in a Grade 2 listed cinema), Clapton Craft, Yard Sale Pizza and more to Buhler & Co for Climpson & Sons coffee and an inventive veggie / vegan brunch in charming surroundings. Think flaky paratha, fried upma, quinoa cakes and baked eggs.
From there, we cut through the backstreets towards Orford Road and the heart of Walthamstow Village where you’ll find the aforementioned E17 Village Market and Froth & Rind, as well as cosy wine bar and shop In Vino Veritas and the much loved supermarket-pizzeria-restaurant Eat 17 that’s known for its bacon jam.
Buzzing from all the caffeine, we carried on to God’s Own Junkyard, a neon wonderland full of colourful signs, movie props and more that were made, installed and collected over 37 years by Chris Bracey who unfortunately passed away in 2014. They have many signs available for hire, plus you can commission custom pieces (for a substantial fee). It’s a magical place, a real hidden gem, and you can even stop off for some coffee and cake at the Rolling Scones café if you so wish!
By 2pm it was time for a drink. Luckily, there are now two breweries with taprooms (check ahead for opening times) and a so-called gin palace a stone’s throw from God’s Own Junkyard on Ravenswood Indsutrial Estate. We started off at Wild Card Brewery which settled down in Walthamstow in 2014. The inviting taproom is right alongside the brewery tanks, and live music & DJ sets are a regular occurrence. They have keg and cask beers available, both from their own range and rotating guests. Dough Bro pizza are often set up right outside – if they aren’t around you can bring in your own food.
Round the corner, Pillars Brewery‘s spacious taproom is brand new (as of October 2016) and is looking suitably shiny. The four chaps behind Pillars (three of whom are brothers) are focusing on craft lagers, and they had three interesting brews on tap for their launch weekend – a 5.6% Oktoberfest Lager with amarillo hops, a Pilsner, and their flagship Untraditional Lager which is a lager / pale ale hybrid. The latter will be available outside the taproom, whilst seasonal styles will rotate at the bar. The name Pillars is a reference to the four pillars of brewing according to German purity laws – water, hops, yeast and malted barley – so we can expect them to continue with the lager love for some time! If beer isn’t your thing, or you need something stronger, Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace is directly opposite and has a pretty expansive gin & cocktails list plus some lovely home made liqueurs.
As you can see, there’s so much to enjoy in Walthamstow, plus you can easily nip over to Tottenham Hale on the Victoria Line for Beavertown Brewery & Redemption Brew, or work your way back to Liverpool Street via the delights of Clapton, Hackney Downs and London Fields too. Not too shabby, E17 – perhaps next time we’ll … stay another day. Sorry not sorry.