Food writer Erica Pilavaki celebrates five of the borough’s newest, constantly-evolving eateries…
In theory, I love to cook. What I love even more is not having to cook. And trusting my favourite takeaways for no-fuss deliciousness is easier than ever in Waltham Forest, despite the challenges faced by the restaurant industry.
New foodie gems have been popping up all over the borough since the first lockdown. Without space to feature them all, here are the origin stories of just five.
Juniper & Co
Once upon a time, caterers Polly Wedderburn and Emily Woollcombe-Adams ran their own, separate companies. Enter Covid-19 and their worlds were flipped upside down.
They decided to join forces in March 2020 after starting to randomly chat on Instagram. Both women bonded instantly over their avid passion for homemade bread and salted French butter.
First, they teamed up to create Dine In Deals, featuring a different cuisine each month, delivering them all over London so people could recreate a restaurant experience at home.
After surviving such a turbulent time, they decided a bigger and more exciting catering company – Juniper & Co – could work.
Juniper & Co specialises in bespoke events of all sizes, from intimate dinners to press launch canapés to shoot lunches on location, weddings and more, the country over.
Chef Chavdar Todorov is the man behind Slow Burn: a Walthamstow-based, vegan-friendly smokehouse known for it’s nourishingly-rich, slow-cooked feasts.
His kitchen philosophy is to eat with sustainability in mind – more veg, less meat, more nutrition, less waste.
Chef Chavdar had never worked in a takeaway/delivery environment before, but is one of many to adapt to the current climate.
He hasn’t just adapted, he’s thrived. Slow Burn opened in late November of last year and is located in London’s only craft jeanmakers, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers.
I can almost guarantee it will ultimately become an integral part of the community. Watch this space.
Find out more at Slow Burn
Short Road Pizza
Founders Kate Prior and Ugo Galelli moved to Leytonstone during the first lockdown and bought themselves a pizza oven to cheer themselves up. Genius.
Ugo’s ancestry is in Naples and his nonno owned a pizza restaurant, so it’s in his DNA to nerd out about dough recipes and exact the perfect flavours on the top.
But both Kate and Ugo felt disconnected, living in a new neighbourhood during a pandemic, so they decided to reach out to their new neighbours with homemade flyers, asking if they would like some fortnightly, contact-free pizza in exchange for a cash donation to local food bank Eat Or Heat.
The response was so positive that word spread beyond their street, they started offering pizzas for collection and they joined forces with fellow Leytonstone-based pizza freak Jack (@theperfectpizza).
100+ pizzas eaten, and they’ve managed to donate more than £1,000 for a worthy cause.
What makes Short Road special is that the dough they make is a Napoli-style, fresh yeast, slow-fermented dough. They prep it the day before and let it proof overnight. The result is remarkably authentic Italian pizza.
Husband and wife team Ben and Jo Milne’s resilience is one for the books.
You might have heard of their restaurant, Bombette, and the newest venture, Arte E Pasta, which opened its doors one day before the third lockdown began.
They also own a food wholesale business that supplies restaurants in central London and further afield – with artisan cheese, cured meats, olives etc mainly imported from all over Italy.
Affected drastically by the pandemic, Ben and Jo resolved that in lockdown, they still had to make money – so opened up an entirely different concept, Tear4fritti, a new way to champion all things fried from Italy.
Expect arancini balls, croquettes, calamari, polenta chips and deep fried Puglian-style pizza called panzerotti from this clever, E17-based pop-up.
Bread and Oregano
If you’ve ever been to the Mediterranean, you’ll instinctively remember its slow pace of life. Its all about good food, good friends, no rush. Thats exactly the vibe of family-run Bread and Oregano near Leyton Cricket Ground.
The menu is extensive, and the neighbourhood has embraced this little coffee/lunch/dinner spot with open arms since opening in July 2020.
You can find them on all the usual delivery sites, but they are itching to welcome you back into their ‘home’ again and I, for one, can’t wait.
Find out more at Bread and Oregano