Outside of the Nine Elms regeneration project, I can’t imagine a greater concentration of building works than those surrounding Mare Street in Hackney-a walk along the length of this arterial road (culturally, economically) is a near assaultive experience, every road off of it a riot of new towers, fresh refurbishment of original properties, or the skeletal hint of future designs and residences, a convention of cranes and construction vehicles. For an area once considered fairly dangerous (notoriously granted the designation of the Murder Mile), this acceleration of development is a thing of true wonder. A plethora of smart independent cafes, pop-up restaurants (including the saucily named MiSo Honey, a Pan-Asian enterprise currently taking residence at Helgi’s bar), fashion start-ups, and boutique gift shops now spool out along the pavement, stretching all the way to Lower Clapton Road, itself a hotspot of intriguing retail and dining. So pervasive is the wealth of options, it will take several return trips to sample them all. My main port of call this visit was what has been described as arguably London’s most Instagrammable cafe, the newly opened Palm Vaults, where the colour pink is elevated to that of royalty. Water glasses, water bottles, chairs, flowerpots, napkins, pastry creams, many of the ingredients used in the range of drinks (with an emphasis on smoothies) and dishes (my bowl of granola, flecked with berries, was accompanied by a very emphatic pinkish yoghurt), even the bathroom fixtures-sink, rubbish bin-exalt the pink. The uncomplicated menu nods to the current regard for plant-based food items, offering a tidy range of toasties and sandwiches. The space is fairly modest and can seem cramped when full, not especially helped by the orchestra of hanging plants overhead, covering most of the available ceiling dimension. The cafe is curiously set amongst the pound shops, bakeries (Percy Ingle, Gregg’s), pharmacies and chicken huts of a traditional local high street-its pastel mint green and pink frontage certainly arrests the attention. Just up the road from here, on Lower Clapton, is Miami Cafe (located in the elegant Art Deco jewel Strand Building, originally an electricity showroom), a spacious, beautifully spare labour of love from erstwhile fashion industry worker Sophie Wright, bringing the clean, bright, soft vibes of the American southwest to Hackney-you’d be forgiven for thinking that just outside the cafe could be found beach and oceanfront. I sampled a compact and satisfying avocado and halloumi sandwich tricked up with a sweet chilli sauce on a particularly sound seeded rye bread, and finished with a zesty take on a peanut butter cookie, with a Reece’s like cup dropped into a mound of dough (many of the pastries on offer are homages to American treats such as Pop Tarts and Oreo cookies, all delicacies made in-house; on my visit, Sophie was in the midst of stirring the very seductive ingredients for a new batch of rocky road bars!). Savoury dishes include attributes of both Mexican and Spanish cooking, a breadth of meals covered from breakfast through to snacks to late afternoon tea. These two discoveries represent just the first steps in the investigation of this burgeoning area-the inventory is prodigious with choice. More than a few further posts will follow!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s