Hello there, my name is Robin Nierynck, a 23-year-old journalist from Bruges Belgium. I’ve been living in London since October 2015, after completing my BA in York and my Master’s in Cardiff.
When I moved to London, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. And to be sure, now that I’ve spent some time here I can say, it’s a right mess – always busy, crazy expensive and everyone is obsessed with brunch. But of course, as you probably know if you’re reading this, it certainly has an infectious charm and gets you excited about just about anything. Including brunch. Living in a flat in Bethnal Green, I’ve fallen in love with the East End and all its quirks. Right on the edge of Victoria Park, my little flat may not be much, but it feels as though I’ve got a world waiting on my doorstep.
So due to my incredible favouritism when it comes to the East End, I have themed my contribution to include my top 5 East London places. Enjoy!
As with most things in the East End, I will unashamedly claim this is by far the best street food/farmers’ market in London, but it’s probably more to do with the fact that it’s within walking distance (and what a walk, see: Regent's Canal) of my bed.
Right in the heart of Hackney, every Saturday this street transforms into a bustling, temptation-filled foodie fest. Google tells me this has been going on since the since the 1890s.
With artisan goods, street food, music, fresh produce and an endless assortment cakes, the stands in Broadway Market change all the time and I haven’t tired of it yet after eight months, which I take to be a good sign.
Broadway is well worth a visit even on week/Sundays, as it’s filled with bars, restaurants and brunch cafes (this is Hackney after all). Favourites include Market Café (for pancakes), Villa D’Aversa (more pancakes) and Bella Vita (all-round Italian deliciousness). There’s even a Belgian beer bar, The Dove, although like most things in London everything is overpriced.
Saturdays / Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
Yes – I hear you call – Regent’s Canal isn’t confined to the East End, but the best part of it sure is. A perfect water highway to avoid the busy city streets, a walk along Regent's Canal is a perfectly picturesque journey to all the best places. From the corner of Victoria Park (best park) and Old Ford Road you can walk towards Hackney and Broadway Market and ultimately end up in Angel. Or head along the long side of the park to Hackney Wick, where the river is lined with warehouses that house anything from all-day raves to wood fired pizza restaurants and hot tub bars.
As you walk you’ll notice the many narrowboats moored along the banks where many Londoners (and beyond) have made a creative home for themselves. Great for people/house watching.
A recent discovery but worth a mention nonetheless, Netil360 is a big rooftop bar / event space / cafe / art gallery. With stunning views over the city, it’s well worth a visit for the skyline alone, but they also get in guest pop-up food (from July 6th it’s Tibetan Momo Shack) and artisan coffee roasters. Or, head to the bar to sample some local creations from Five Points Brewery and the East London Liquor Company. Also, it’s FREE to go up (prepare yourself for the stairs, as far as I’m aware there’s no lift).
netil360.com / Wednesdays – Sundays / 1 Westgate St, Hackney E8 3RL
Bethnal Green art galleries
Much was my surprise when I discovered I had been living in an art hub without ever knowing it – but indeed Bethnal Green seems to be the art fanatic’s Valhalla.
Tiny and FREE art galleries are dotted all around - they’re a little hard to spot at first (entrances tend to be dodgy-looking back doors), but once you’ve found a few you get the hang of it. Someone inside might even give you a map. Alternatively, Google it. As far as I know there’s no comprehensive online guide to these galleries but ask around once you’ve been to a few. The exhibitions are a bit and miss, sure, but I’ve come across a few gems!
Built into the railway arches of the Overground, Paradise Row is an assortment of bars and restaurants right next to Bethnal Green tube station. The Japanese Canteen hits the spot every time, personal favourites being the chilli squid, Korean fried chicken (not for the faint-hearted) and the flame seared, melt-in-your-mouth nigiri.
Next door, Sager+Wilde do amazing cocktails. For lovers of a good Old Fashioned, this is the place to be, with variations including Maple, Cedar & Oak or Wax & Smoke Old Fashioned. Of course, there are lots of other options too, like the Rose Petal Ramos and Nettle Collins. And, who knows, there’s always a chance it won’t be raining so you can enjoy the outside terrace.
NB: If you just can’t get enough of those cocktails, try the nearby Satan’s Whiskers – another excellent drinking joint with great bartenders – or the Natural Philosopher a few minutes’ walk down Hackney Road.