Beer! Football! Birds! Welcome to an ornithologist-lad’s paradise. Why go there?
After the Olympics were announced, Leyton High Road’s once-drab parade was done up by the council, with all the shop fronts repainted, transforming it into one of east London’s best-looking high streets.
The high street? But isn’t it just corner shops and locksmiths?
Well, those corner shops and locksmiths do look fabulous. But since the High Road’s makeover, there’s been other stuff going on too. New pubs and cafés have opened and a sizeable crowd of young folk, priced out of Hackney, have moved in.
And beyond the high street?
There’s greenery. Lots of it. Leyton’s recently regenerated Jubilee Park (Seymour Road), a short bus ride from the High Road, is a fitness hub complete with outdoor boxercise classes, basketball courts and a giant pirate ship (disappointingly, just for the kids). There’s also the Waterworks Centre and Middlesex Filter Beds nature reserve (in Lee Valley Park), which is home to one of the largest birdwatching hides in London.
Okay, that’s enough fresh air. I’m hungry!
After all that walking, you could sustain the health kick with a low-carb feast at Gyms Kitchen (380 High Road). If you’ve arrived in time for breakfast, head down to Delicatessen Palmeira (234 High Road), a Portuguese bakery that does reasonably priced coffee and pasteis de nata (custard tarts to you and me). Continuing the Portuguese theme, try the rave-reviewed Oceano (381 High Road) for dinner. For something sophisticated, go to Marmelo Kitchen (169 Francis Road) which does lovely modern food with a Middle Eastern touch as well as a Sunday roast to rival the local pub offerings.
What about something to drink?
They’re not just serving craft beer in Leyton, they’re bloody well making it: head to the King William IV pub (816 High Road) for a great selection of brilliant locally brewed Brodie’s Beers (the area is also home to the Wildcard Brewery and East London Brewery Company). Leyton Technical (265b High Road) is great for pub quizzes and comedy nights in addition to a good selection of wine, spirits and beer. If you’re not ready to hit the bottle, pop to Albert & Francis (153 Francis Road) for a cup of tea or coffee.
And if I only do one thing?
Go see Leyton Orient FC at the Matchroom Stadium (Brisbane Road). It’s the second oldest club in London, and its diehard fans kick up a brilliant atmosphere. Plus, you can get a ticket for just £15 and, post-match, you’re only a five-minute walk from the nearest pub. Result!
By Sarah Drumm, who thought pasteis de nata were pasties for nutters.