I was first introduced to Stoke Newington about 2 years ago by my dear friend the Little Lady Luthier (check her out on instagram), and it has quickly become one of my favourite areas of London. Gorgeous parks full of deer, some of the best vintage shops in London and countless incredible restaurants offering authentic food from around the world.
Stokey,as it is known by locals, is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in London and is home to everything from yummy mummies and their bugaboo strollers to a strong Hasidic Jewish community and everything in between. It is this diversity that gives Stokey its charm, one minute you are strolling through beautifully manicured white terrace houses and the next you are surrounded by boisterous Turkish kebab shops offering some of the best food in London. Turn another corner and you will find yourself face to face with what is in my opinion one of the best Indian restaurants in the world, and sat next to that is a traditional British pub.
Like much of East London, Stokey has undergone significant gentrification in the last decade however it has managed to retain a lot of its immigrant heritage and is still home to some of the oldest immigrant communities in the country. Diversity is what keeps bringing me back to this corner of the capital, and I hope that this will never change.
The Haberdashery is higgledy-piggledy hodge-podge of mismatched furniture, vintage crockery and incredible food. Offering fresh and seasonal breakfast and brunch food all day everyday, this is my kind of restaurant. Although the Haberdashery is unassuming from the outside, it has been recognised for its excellence by everyone from The Independent and Time Out to magazines like Grazia.
The average meal will set you back about £10, but trust me you will be absolutely stuffed afterwards. Whether you’re going vegan for 2017 or you’ve got a craving for a really good sausage, the Haberdashery has everything you could want and more. If you’re feeling healthy then why not go for the Aussie Porridge, made with coconut milk, banana, cinnamon, pomegranate and orange zest. Or if you are more inclined to pigging out then why not try the Hedonist Breakfast which includes free range fried eggs, sausage, bacon, halloumi, spinach, mushroom, confit tomato, homemade hashbrown and sourdough (this is quite possibly the best breakfast in London).
Now I am not a tea drinker but I have been assured that the tea on offer here is incredible. Everything from classics like Earl Grey and Darjeeling to the less conventional Green Gunpowder and ‘Good Karma’ teas is on the menu, even I’m tempted by the last two. One thing I do enjoy, however, is a cocktail and the Haberdashery’s offering does not disappoint. With a range of drinks on offer from Mojitos to the Beetroot Bloody Bary there is sure to be something that will tickle the fancy of even the most discerning cocktail drinker.
It’s hard to do the Haberdashery justice, it’s a chilled-out, friendly little place which does bloody good food and drink. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even if you have it a 7pm with a side order of 3 Margaritas.
The brainchild of Das Sreedharan, Rasa was created to bring the real flavours of Kerala to the UK. Inspired by his childhood memories of his mother’s love and devotion when it came to cooking for their family, Rasa simultaneously blends the charm and warmth of homestyle cooking with the quality and finesse of any Michelin star restaurant.
Rasa brings authentic Keralan cuisine to the heart of the capital in 6 beautiful restaurants dotted across London. Stokey offers the classic Rasa experience consisting of traditional Keralan dishes flavoured with some of the most exquisite spices India has to offer. However across the road from Rasa is its vegetarian sister, an entire restaurant dedicated to Keralan veggie food which has been awarded the title of Best Vegetarian Restaurant in London two years running.
Stepping into Rasa is like stepping into an authentic Keralan curry house, the atmosphere is heavy with the smell of spices and the small rooms created a charming chaos as customers and restaurant staff move swiftly across the floor carefully avoiding one another. The place is hectic, food streams out of the kitchen bathing the restaurant in a mixture of spices that assault the senses.
The experience gets better once your food arrives, everything on offer is incredible, from things as simple as Garlic Pickle to dishes such as Chilli Onion Rava Dosa, each dish is better than the last. A particular favourite of mine is the Rasa Kayi, a vegetable curry bathed in a sauce of garlic, ginger and fennel, and with prices that rarely go above £10 it doesn’t break the bank either.
A meal at Rasa, especially the vegetarian branch, is incredible from start to finish. Whether you’re sharing a selection of dishes with friends or you just want to indulge in a bucket of glorious spicy goodness this place goes above and beyond when it comes to quality Indian food. Any curry fan would be foolish not to add this to the list of musts for 2017.
The Blue Legume
Proudly advertising itself as not a ‘special event’ kind of restaurant, The Blue Legume offers a fresh twist on excellent cuisine by refusing to define itself. With 4 branches spread across North and East London The Blue Legume is easy to find and even easier to fall in love with. With culinary influences from around the world The Blue Legume focuses on producing delicious food made from locally sourced (wherever possible), ethical ingredients rather than focusing on the creation of authentic dishes from a particular region. The chefs here have free rein when it comes to their tasty creations, and it really shows.
The décor is sleek and stylish with little in the way of clutter or fuss, this is mirrored by the atmosphere of the restaurant itself. By not defining its theme or style The Blue Legume focuses all of its attention on the food, and trust me that focus is well placed.
The choice of food here is incredible from breakfast to dinner, as is the choice of drink which includes a particularly delicious sangria. The breakfast menu offers a wide range of delectable dishes, from chocolate con churros (a personal favourite) to the classic Welsh rarebit. This is all accompanied by a wide choice of freshly pressed juices, just in case you feel guilty after your full English!
The breakfast is delicious but it is during dinner service that kitchen really comes to life. Offering a range of classic dishes with a modern and transcontinental flare, there is sure to be something for everyone. Each dish is incredible at The Blue Legume but if you only take one piece of advice from me today then please try the cassoulet, words cannot describe how amazing it is.
The Blue Legume is fresh, easy and delightfully simple, all of the focus is centred on the production of truly delicious food. Coupled with reasonable prices and great service there really isn’t anything to dislike about this place!
Coach & Horses
The Coach & Horses is part of the fabric of Stoke Newington, and as one of the oldest pubs in London it is also a staple in the capital’s long list of excellent watering holes. The pub offers great drink, fantastic atmosphere and delicious food from its upstairs Thai restaurant.
Upon entering the Coach & Horses you could be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a proper English country pub. Its dark wood-clad interior and dim lighting combined with wonderfully shouty bar staff make it a great place to grab a drink with friends or watch the rugby.
The Coach & Horses offers a wide range of cask ales, lager and wine and all for a lower price then you’ll find closer to the centre of the city. The beauty of this pub comes from the atmosphere, every trip to the Coach & Horses is guaranteed to be eventful. You will make new friends, probably get into an argument or two about the ‘East/West Divide’ and wake up the next morning regretting that extra pint you had when the rest of your friends had switched to water.
It is this bawdy, boisterous and downright barmy atmosphere that makes the Coach & Horses so much fun. Everyone in there is friendly and on any given night you’ll probably get a couple of free drinks as a result of alcohol-induced generosity. As if a night at this pub wasn’t good enough, it is even better in the day. Sat outside on one of the four benches you have a perfect view of the high street and it is possibly the best people watching spot in the country.
Whilst the Coach & Horses might not have fame or the Michelin star cuisine of some other London pubs, it really does stand out from the crowd when it comes to offering a truly unforgettable and enjoyable night out.
Pequeno is one of the latest additions to Stoke Newington, a chic little tapas bar offering small dishes from around the globe matched with an extensive wine list and a delicious selection of cocktails.
Pequeno is marketed more on its food than its drink, and the food is delicious, varied and great for sharing, but it was the drinks that really made me go back for more. The grey, wooden interiors and modern art create very contemporary and European atmosphere whilst the food and drink blend a much more global palette, in turn this creates a very novel and enjoyable space.
Whether you are a fan of white or red wine, or perhaps you’re partial to a glass or two of rosé, the offering at Pequeno will have something for you. However it is the cocktails that always tickle my fancy, the only bad part is having to decide between a vodka martini and a Moscow mule!
As a new business Pequeno has thrives on groups of diners, the food and drinks are designed for sharing and no matter your taste in either its an experience you’ll want to go back for again and again. As if that wasn’t enough, if you instagram your meal then they will give you a free desert. I don’t know about you but I am never one to turn down a pudding!
The Green Room
Part florist, part cafe and all set in a rustic glass fronted building decked out with industrial charm, The Green Room is one of the loveliest spots to relax in London. The front of this floral fantasy is fully functional florist, offering expert knowledge and fresh flowers all year round. However, it is when you walk through the florist that the real beauty of The Green Room comes through, hidden away at the back of the building is chilled-out cafe with a glorious sky light and a view out onto the garden.
Similar to Pequeno, The Green Room offers delicious food that is as fresh and light as the garden itself, however it is drink and the relaxed atmosphere that really make this a must see. Green space is everywhere in London, but it is rare to find space that feels truly peaceful.
The menu at The Green Room is not extravagant, nor does it offer anything particularly out of the ordinary, what it does do is provide a gorgeous environment in which to enjoy a great cup of coffee and perhaps even a cake or two. Sometimes all you need is a bit of peace and quiet, a space where you can read a book or catch up on work without all the distractions of the outside world. This is especially hard to find in a city like London, but The Green Room achieves this so perfectly.
If you are looking for life-changing cuisine or strange concoctions to drink then The Green Room is not for you. However, if you are looking for a bit of a break from real life, if you just want to sit in the sun, surrounded by beautiful plants and lose yourself in a good book then there is no better place than here.
Best To Dos:
Clissold Park is at the centre of life in Stokey, its wide open spaces, beautiful cafes and wild deer make it one of my favourite parks in the capital. Like so many of London’s parks the best time to experience Clissold is during the summer when there is a community pool for children, hundreds of dogs running around the green and countless picnics being enjoyed as far as the eye can see.
That being said, the park is still a beautiful space during the colder part of the year and a trip to the cafe, situated in an 18th century villa, is especially lovely in the winter. There really is no better way to introduce yourself to Stokey than by sitting outside, wrapped up in a big coat and sipping a hot chocolate while you look out across the breadth of Clissold Park.
Stoke Newington really is a wonderful area of London, sadly it doesn’t get the attention it deserves but hopefully this post will have motivated some of you to go exploring yourself. There is great food, wonderful drink and most importantly an extremely friendly, diverse and welcoming community here that represents what it really means to be a Londoner.
I hope that you’re enjoying my guide to this amazing city, next week it’s time for us to explore the beautiful area of Chelsea.
See you soon,