Once upon a time, people wouldn’t dare to even cross big bad London Fields unless travelling in a mob. But times have gone and changed and now it seems like people never actually leave London Fields. In artisan bakeries beneath railway arches, upscale bars on rooftops and cosy pubs on street corners you’ll find plenty of well-dressed types mooching around and looking like they know what they’re doing with their lives. Here’s what’s worth searching out.
Of course a trip to these parts wouldn’t be complete/healthy without embarking on a dip in the lido, where inconceivably spritely speedo-clad swimmers glide up and down the lanes without losing their breath. It’s a rare gem in London: a heated 50m outdoor pool with decent facilities to boot. On a hot and sunny day, it can get pretty darn busy but come any other time and you’re in for a rare wet treat.
If you like your bar’s small, dark and sweaty with a large probability of live jazz music then you’ll certainly be digging Kansas Smitty’s. In a basement off Broadway Market this jiving lil’ space regularly hosts super talented musicians doing it LIVE. Occasionally it can get a little bit too experimental but that’s the risks of jazz, friend.
3. The Dove
The Dove is the kind of pub made for those winter nights that leave you scampering for cosiness and/or beer. It’s a dark, atmospheric tavern full of dark wood, candles and mildly intoxicated sorts sipping on something rare from an impressive range of Belgian and real ales. Like being on a jovial pirate ship that’s just pillaged Belgium’s breweries. On nice nights, expect to see the action spilling haphazardly out onto the streets.
This is the kind of dining experience that you’ll still be thinking about a couple of days later. In a (naturally) bright, airy and laid-back spot, this restaurant and wine bar does simple European dishes executed perfectly and, unlike a lot of the small plate restos of East London, portions don’t leave you feeling hard done by.
The community vibes are strong at this place, and we couldn’t be more in favour of it. Diddy’s (run by the super-friendly Diddy herself) is an all day cafe/bar that’s quickly become a local favourite – the kind of place where you’ll overhear a convo going on next to you and feel compelled to join in. They’re not trying to do anything too fancy here, simply provide a colourful, chilled spot to unwind, chat and feel at home.
6. E5 Bakehouse
E5’s burgeoning bread empire now fills three arches and supplies most of the cafes in Hackney. It’s enough to raise suspicions that it might be some kind of Soprano-waste-management-esque front, but what a delicious front it is.
What they do here centres around organic and natural sourdough bread and all bread-y related offshoots: from artisan cakes to wholesome breakfasts and lunches. It’s often pretty busy, with affluent Hackneyites stopping by to get their weekend fix or parking themselves out front and getting their gossip on. There’s all sorts to talk about in these parts.
This relaxing cafe-cum-bar suits all kinds of purposes. By day, Palm Greens is providing a plant based salad bar; then evening draws in and those tales begin as the sinking sun bathes the south-facing terrace in a delightful faded glow. With a cocktail in hand, it’ll cause all kinds of romantic notions. It’s been known to pop off here on Friday and Saturday nights, though not all the way off – there’s a 1.30am curfew, after all.