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James Cooper of E-8te chooses his five secret London spots in E8

Posted at 5:30 pm, September 26, 2012 in Food & Drink, Secret London, Top 5
James Cooper of E-8te Project

Ever since the dawn of Man vs. Food, the Time Out team have been fascinated by a food challenge of any shape or size. Two burrito challenge? Nailed it. Every item on the Meat Liquor menu? One of these days. Basically, we appreciate the art of eating, and if we can pat ourselves on the back for it afterwards, so much the better. Which is why we hold food challenge hero James Cooper in such high esteem; he’s going to eat at every joint on Kingsland Road (it’s a LONG road, people) and report back to us about each of them on his blog, e8te.wordpress.com. Here are five spots in the area that he’d recommend to set your own challenges in. Ashleigh Arnott

Tin Café, 1 Middleton Road, E8 4BL
‘It’s always broken my heart a little bit that the Tin Café isn’t technically on Kingsland Road and so falls just outside our E-8te mission. But now I have a chance to tell everyone how great this microscopic café really is. It might not be as ‘cool’ as some of the other spots along the Dalston Promenade, but this place – housed in what was an old pet store – is exactly what you want from your local coffee shop; the drinks are universally excellent, they serve the sort of food you want when you’re a bit hungover, and they always have the papers on hand each Saturday morning. But what makes the Tin Cafe a real gem are the staff and owner; they’re just the right side of bonkers to be massively endearing and entertaining while you wait for your flat white.’

The Fox, 372 Kingsland Road, E8 4DA
‘I’ve lived just round the corner from The Fox for nearly three years now and in that time it must have been refurbished and reopened under new ownership about five times. There was just something about the place that seemed to reek of failure. When the most recent people moved in at the start of the year and started displaying A-boards proclaiming the soon-to-reopen pub would be specialising in craft beers, my flatmate and I shook our heads and gave them four months. Nine months down the line and we’ve been proved wrong. Little by little the pub’s won itself a loyal group of fans, who appreciate the ever-changing beer selection, great staff and really decent food. Their hidden rooftop terrace was also a godsend in those brief moments when summer threatened to happen this year.’

The Garden and Reading Room at The Geffrye Museum
‘I love everything about the Geffrye Museum; the strange but wonderful institution celebrating living rooms of the past that’s located in an old almshouse halfway up Kingsland Road. From its annual Christmas Exhibition -  where they show what the festive period was like in normal houses in years gone by – through to the amazingly accurate recreation of a late 90s flat (complete with Jamie Oliver cookbooks, Moby CDs and a mezzanine IKEA sleeping platform), it’s just a place that fills me with joy every time I go. What I love the most are the tranquil hidden spaces it offers; the reading room where you can relax and enjoy their excellent collection of books about interior design and furniture; and the hidden herb gardens under in the shadow of the Overground Line where you can experience a moment of silence away from the traffic of the main road.’

Dalston Oxfam
‘One of the first times I ever came to Dalston was to go to a Hot Chip gig that was taking place in the basement of this Oxfam outlet. It made me think that this is the sort of place I want to be; the sort of place where great bands just turn up at a local charity shop, put on a show and then hang out with their fans upstairs while suggesting records for them to buy. Six years down the line, I live just down the road from this great charity shop and – despite the fact they seem to have stopped having so many gigs in their basement (or more likely, I’ve just stopped being invited) – it’s still one of my regular haunts each Saturday. The clothes selection isn’t great, but they have a consistently superb range of books, odds and sods, records and CDs. In particular, it’s the music selection that keeps drawing me back. Every time I go in, I find something new that I want; whether its an LP of BBC sound effects from the 1970s, or Paul Simon’s Graceland CD, the original of which I lost years ago.’

Arthur’s, 495 Kingsland Road, E8 4AU
‘When it comes to traditional East End cafés, It seems like everyone knows about E. Pellicci’s – the Art Deco one down on Bethnal Green Road – but not many people talk about Arthur’s. It’s a massive shame because the place is amazing. Arthur Woodham opened up shop in 1948 and he’s been there ever since, serving absolutely classic caff fare to a crowd of regulars that perfectly encapsulates the huge variety of life on Kingsland Road. Now in his eighties, Arthur can still be found in his café every day – getting up in the middle of the night to prepare his signature hams and hand cut the chips for the day – before helping out his son and grandson as they serve up their freshly-made sandwiches, specials and traditional breakfasts, all the while upholding dining rules from a different era: no toast or bacon after eleven thirty and no chips before twelve.’

For more from James, visit E8te.wordpress.com or follow @e8tefoodblog on Twitter

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