Saturday morning sees many Londoners, us Eastern ones and otherwise, flock to the multi-coloured canvas encased stalls of Broadway market for bread-based treats, posh dog spotting and the antique candelabra you’ve recently coveted. It’s the event of the weekend, that time when you can successfully convince yourself that brunch is a meal to be eaten continuously all day and paying a full day’s salary for pair of vintage jeans is the best adult decision you’ve ever made.
But, did it ever cross your mind that you might not have to wrestle your weekending body through the be-brogued, yet mysteriously sockless crowds, in order to soak up your down time’s worth of happy mingling and pastry consuming. Extricate yourself from the crowds and wander alone along to the following list of carefully curated goodies, known only to the wise few who know London Fields mainly as their home.
L’eau de Bouche
French Deli meets your grandma’s conservatory. It’s cute and snug and full of many things most delicious. Their carrot cake is a particular favourite of mine, and the hot drinks and are always a joy. It’s nice to couch amongst the house plants and have a quiet minute but beware: it is still very much on the main strip and gets mega busy later on in the afternoon. For a morning settle in and caffeine (plus or minus accompanying cake), c’est parfait.
Where Broadway might be the sophisticated older sister, Netil Market is the rambunctious youngest sibling who turns up on Sundays for free food with multiple unexplained carpet burns. Here you can buy jerk chicken from a shed cooked by a guy who softly sings reggae as he seasons the food. There’s a beautiful shed at the back occupied by the most glamorous of babes; it’s full of frames, spectacle frames. The widest, quirkiest range of every frame imaginable: from vintage 50s to delicate golden wire and all at a fraction of the cost of the high street. It’s called The Worshipful Little Shop of Spectacles. You’ll leave with a handmade vivarium, a ceramic spoon and a light sense of contentment.
Ever wondered what a whole loaf of croissant dough would look like? Well, ponder no further those of you who dream in patisserie. Firstly, it’s called a croaf (naturally, nothing’s trendier than a sturdy compound word) and secondly, it’s delicious. Despite the variant size, it will take the time to consume that a normal croissant would. No one has the will power to control calorie intake when faced with an airy rectangle of buttery flour fluff, there’s no shame in it. Also on offer are baguettes and all other matter of bready stodge sitting there quietly waiting to soak up your hangover.
Underneath the arches of the underground, E2’s location just off London Fields is safely nestled in every local’s memory. My good friend rises at 6am daily to walk to this bakery kingdom and buy their notorious sourdough; so soft and expertly risen every slice is like a bubbly crumpet. All kinds of cakes and nibbly oddments also reside here, carefully guarded by the glass cabinet which gently reminds you to exercise a smidge of self-control and not just lie in amongst all that yum, forgoing hands and mouth-hoovering the treats up at will. You may have to fight someone for a table, but at least this premeditatively cruises through some calories before the upcoming refuel.
London Fields Lido
There’s nothing quite like an outdoor swim. Especially in the slow lane where you can lazily drift on your back on an evening and watch the darkness take grasp of the sky. Thankfully here, there are allocated lanes for your chosen speed and even though there is a fast line, it is not the terrifying competitive ones where it seems to be a genuine risk that the ostentaciously splash-less pro behind you will dunk you down to death rather than simply overtake you. I’m always in the slow lane, not even a metaphor in in this case. I’ll see you there. The pool is also heated, fret not my blubberless chums.
Less than a 15minute walk away from Broadway market’s main drag, you’ll find Wilton Way. It’s essentially Broadway in miniature, minus the people and multiple the charms. Strewn with cafes and cakes, boutique little shops with everything from 1940s skirt suits to handmade Japanese hairpins. The Spurstowe Arms lazes about coolly on the corner. This pub sells a rather excellent sausage roll to accompany your pint and the Turkish shop adjoining sells some of the best bread you’re likely to find.
Ever wanted to know what a pair of knitting needles longer than your legs look like? This knitting shop houses such wonders, even boasting the mega wool to accompany. I’m pretty sure that they make the giant needles out of old mop handles; I much admire this woolly pragmatism. It’s lovely for a quick, crafty browse: they have gift cards and a full programme of various crafting events. Sign up and soothe your inner Nanna.
Look Mum No Hands
Down at the Hackney end of Broadway market is where bikes meet coffee in a café and they decide to set up shop together. Look Mum No Hands is a caffeine in motion lovechild with an in-house team of bike mechanics as well as the café team making you your flat white as you get your spokes realigned. (I’m not sure this is a thing, you will find yourself making up excuses to go even though owning a bike is not a prerequisite for being served). Evenings also see both teams hosting all manner of events from film screenings to book launches, it’s pretty happening in here.
There’s something nicely ancient about London’s watery roads. The places for a good ponder and an introduction into the complex hierarchies of water fowl as they recklessly pelt each other with both bodily parts and their whole body as children feed them from afar. Makes me sure glad I’m not a moorhen. The most strange of the canal birds are the barge-dwelling ones, loosely attired, off-the-grid living peeps who know the secrets of the simple life and community living. I’ve hung about many times hoping to be befriended. I am as yet unsuccessful. However: there is a particularly lovely barge housing many, many books of which, you and peruse and you can buy! It’s often moored up on a Saturday awaiting the literary punters in need of a fresh dose of Austen.
The Barge house
Perfect for a gaze over the bustle of the canal and an Aperol Spritz. It’s a great little deck out here, chic and civilised with a non-wanky menu. Fish of the day compromises of a whole, unadorned grilled fish. It’s nice to revel in its charms as a beautiful thing, a tasty beautiful thing. Order also a glass of white wine and recline into an evening free of complaining about work or the least endearing habits of your best friend’s boyfriend.
The day is almost over, the brunch is yet ongoing and you’ve still got another whole, entire workless day ahead to figure out where you’re going to place the needlessly purchased antique washstand. (Your housemates will be thrilled).
Words by Mimi Biggadike