Spotlight on E2
We’ve been based in E2 for almost 3 months now, so we thought where better to start our Postcode Project than right on our doorstep? It’s an area that’s changed a lot over the last few years and there’s so much to discover. It’s no surprise that so many of the places on our list of things to do involve food or drink, seeing as lunchtime is when most of us here go exploring (so our stomachs are our compass), however there are all kinds of things to do in the area that more than justify a day out at the weekend and, no doubt, multiple return trips. If you’re sending flowers to E2 this month, enter code WELOVEE2 at checkout and you’ll get 20% off.
Things to do
Not exactly flying under the radar, but we couldn’t talk about E2 without mentioning Columbia Road Flower Market. Open on Sundays, it’s definitely on a lot of people’s London ‘to do’ list. The hustle and bustle of the market is surrounded by independent shops and plenty of places to grab a coffee or delicious breakfast. Lily Vanilli bakery is just off the main stretch and is an absolute institution. It’s only open on Sundays so combine your trip with a market visit. Columbia Road gets seriously busy, so early risers will definitely get the best experience.
There is so much to do at Hackney City Farm that you may find yourself coming back to E2 over and over just to make your way through their packed weekly calendar. Designed to give you the farm experience right here in the city, its main aim is to educate people on food, nature and the environment. It’s a wonderful place to take animal-loving kids but they also offer something for everyone, with yoga classes, drawing classes, pottery classes and as it’s a subject close to our own heart, we had to mention their bee-keeping workshops.
If keeping fit’s your thing or perhaps you’re looking to give something new a try, E2 is also home to Mile End Climbing Wall. Run by charity Development Through Challenge, it caters for all levels, offering courses for those committed to the idea, as well as taster sessions and walk-ins for those who want to dip their toes in the water first.
If the wall climbing leaves you with sore muscles, we recommend trying a relaxing treatment at Masaj, tucked away in a very cool development called the Gossamer City Project, just off Hackney Road. They’re also committed to sustainability and have some impressive eco credentials, reflected in the bright, airy and minimal design of their space.
Just a short stroll down the road from our own studio, the V&A Museum of Childhood is set in a striking 1872 hangar with marble floor and steel iron structure and is the largest institution of its kind in the world. Toys from days gone by are displayed in all their vintage glory, leading up to modern day. A fun day out if you’ve got kids in tow, otherwise a great trip down memory lane for the adults.
Places to eat/drink
Oh, where to start? This section will take some serious word-count monitoring. A firm Petalon favourite is Campania and Jones for delicious homemade Italian dishes in a cosy, beautifully put together space; it’s somehow rustic yet modern and you’ll be packed together in a slightly too small space, in the kind of charming way that makes you feel like you’re eating in someone’s dining room.
The Water House Project is run by Michelin-starred chef Gabriel Waterhouse, who left his job at Galvin La Chapelle with the aim of making fine dining more accessible. It began as a supper club in his home in Bethnal Green and now runs out of a beautiful tile warehouse on the canal, serving a monthly-changing menu on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely one to book in advance.
We couldn’t believe our luck when we stumbled across Story Deli moments away from us on Cambridge Heath Road. Run by the lovely Lee and his wife, it’s so inconspicuous, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked in to someone’s house. The space is bright and airy, with white-washed walls, long wooden tables and beautiful knick-knacks giving it that homely feel.
Their small back garden with hanging lace and pearlescent shells is their ode to Ibiza; it’s a little slice of the Med in the middle of Cambridge Heath. And dreamy interior aside, their sourdough pizza is absolutely delicious. It’s a pop-up space so opening hours can be a little unpredictable - if the lace flag outside is flying, it means it’s open for business. Otherwise, to avoid disappointment, get in touch to check.
We also love Rochelle Canteen and not just because it’s in a converted bike shed - the food’s really good too and the outdoor seating area alone makes it worth a visit. You’ll forget you’re in central London.
We absolutely must mention Second Shot Coffee, who are doing great things for the community of E2 and beyond, serving good food, cakes and coffee that gives back. They employ and train those who have been affected by homelessness, helping them get their lives back on track and transitioning them in to long-term employment. They also operate a pay it forward scheme, allowing customers to pre-pay for someone on the street to have a free meal or drink later on. What a great idea.
Also worth mentioning…
If there’s a wedding on the horizon for you or someone you know, then it’s worth checking out Agnes Hart. Although her shop is online, her vintage-inspired veils and bridal headpieces are all handmade in her studio in E2. Everything is made to order and designed, made and packed by Agnes, with the exception of metal and crystal pieces which are made by her husband in his small workshop. The attention to detail and hours of work by hand that go in to each piece are bound sure to make something really special and unique.