The SL Guide To Stoke Newington

From the non-conformists who gathered around Newington Green in the 17th century to today’s diverse community, Stoke Newington has a long history of celebrating individuality. The closest you’ll get to a village feel in north-east London, local road Church Street has every kind of café, restaurant, gastropub and gourmet grocer you could dream of, plus second-hand bookshops, trendy furniture stores, independent fashion boutiques and hipster indie boozers. Tucked between desirable Islington and buzzy Hackney, ‘Stokey’ is a great day – and night – out. Here’s everything that makes it worth a visit.
By Heather Steele /
Cadet

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Started by three friends almost ten years ago, The Good Egg boasts an eclectic menu from which to start your day. Spanning Tel Aviv street food to fare from the grand old cafés of New York and Montreal, the menu emphasises high-quality ingredients and sustainable produce. An ideal spot for weekend brunch, we love the sound of the babka French toast with caramelised halva, labneh and poached pear; and Montreal smoked meat hash with pastrami, smoked short-rib, fried potatoes, zhoug, pickles and two fried eggs. If you’re after a decent brunch or breakfast, Esters is another great shout. Here, the team cook a short and creative menu from scratch, inspired by produce grown by small farmers in Cambridgeshire, Sussex and Kent – the baked goods and gut-friendly drinks made with homemade vinegars are well worth a try.

The team behind Westerns Laundry and Primeur (see below) opened popular bakery Jolene in Newington Green in 2018. A bakery by day, Jolene transforms into a restaurant from Thursday to Sunday, serving up simple plates for dinner, using vegetables from Flourish farm in Cambridge, fish from day boats in Cornwall and Devon, and meat from a farming collective in North Yorkshire. Jolene now has further outposts in Shoreditch, Islington and Hornsey, and when it comes to the baked goods make sure to order one of its filled croissants, cardamon buns or lemon tarts. Having started life as a small café on Stoke Newington Church Street in 2001, The Spence added a wholesale bakery to its property portfolio in 2014, followed by a bakery in Tufnell Park. When it comes to anything bread, put the original Stoke Newington location at the top of your list. From nutty sunflower ryes to a classic white sourdough and rustic baguettes, the team knows there’s nothing better than a freshly baked loaf.

If you’re looking for a relaxed lunch, visit Primeur, an independent venture from chef David Gingell and manager Jérémie Cometto-Lingenheim, whose past employers include Mark Hix, the Bistrotheque boys, and the Galvin, Boxer and Wright brothers. A sister to Highbury’s Westerns Laundry, which is famed for its cosy atmosphere, small sharing plates and quirky wine list, Primeur’s menu is equally stripped back, with the restaurant itself occupying an old motor shop. Perilla is another beautiful yet relaxed restaurant serving a modern European menu using humble ingredients of the highest quality. The team’s evening menu changes daily and with the seasons, but both the à la carte and tasting menus are offered with vegetarian and pescatarian alternatives. Expect to sample the likes of seaweed doughnut; leek and potato rarebit; and homemade sourdough served with smoked langoustine taramasalata and burnt onion hummus. Also on Newington Green, you’ll find Cadet, headed up by Jamie Smart – previously of Brawn – who serves a menu of considered and creative French cooking. A wine bar and shop from wine importer Beattie & Roberts and charcutier George Jephson, the space only opened last summer, but has already built a loyal following. It offers wine and charcuterie to sit in or takeaway, and a cave-à-manger style kitchen with daily changing menu. Dishes could include anything from chilled cucumber and hazelnut soup; tomatoes with peaches and fennel pollen; and red current and cherry clafoutis.

Perilla

Don’t be fooled by Vicoli di Napoli Pizzeria’s unassuming outward appearance. A Stokey favourite, it gets rave reviews – and not just because of its close association with the pizzeria in Naples that was made famous in Elizabeth Gilbert’s soul-searching Eat, Pray, Love. Bistro Rubedo serves a curated selection of classic Italian dishes based on seasonal ingredients, alongside a menu of natural wines. Its snug interior gives it a distinctly ‘un-London’ feel, making it a smart choice for a cosy supper when all you want to do is hunker down and tuck into something delicious. You can also hire the entire place for private events – there’s seating for 30-35 guests. Small and cosy with its bright pink decor and bold South Indian dishes, Rasa is one of the best-known vegetarian restaurants in London. When it opened almost 25 years ago, the queue that formed outside the door became legendary. Now, the original Stoke Newington outpost is just one in a chain of restaurants that stretches as far as Birmingham, but its reasonable prices remain.

One of London’s most decadent art-deco bars, Fontaine’s is a destination of old-school glamour. Classic cocktails are served in vintage glassware, with every detail of the bar carefully recreated from authentic 1940s photographs. While the main area upstairs offers a night of sophistication, the Bamboo Lounge downstairs is where patrons let loose under the watchful eye of Fontaine’s owner – and burlesque starlet – Emerald Fontaine. For another kind of night out, Tigre Tacos is inspired by 70s California. The neighbourhood taqueria recently launched Taco Tuesday, which means tacos for only £3, alongside a great selection of margaritas. The restaurant can be found above Doña, a brilliantly opulent and atmospheric mezcal bar.

Angelina London
ANTON RODRIGUEZ

At the Dalston end of Stoke Newington – close to where Stoke Newington High Street merges into Dalston’s Kingsland High Street – you’ll find Voodoo Ray’s, a go-to spot for a pre or post-gig bite to eat. It may have expanded north and south since it first launched in 2014, but its locations still pump out some of the best pizza in the capital. We love that it’s served by the (very large) slice. With topping combinations such as salt beef, sauerkraut, emmental and Russian dressing (‘The Rubenesque’) and minced steak, pepperoni, ham, and smoked streaky bacon (‘The Meat Is On’), you’ll be keen to try more than just one. Make sure to order a house frozen margarita, too. Next door, in a former art-deco cinema, EartH Kitchen is a light-filled, contemporary space with a sculptural mirrored ceiling and polished plaster walls, which plays hosts to different foodie pop-ups. In the evening, its cocktail bar is an ideal spot for those wanting one for the road after a night out at the gig venue, EartH Hackney, downstairs.

An exploration of Japanese and Italian cuisines, cultures and influences, Angelina offers a multicultural mash-up of ingredients and techniques. The informal spot serves a daily eight-plate sharing menu featuring dishes such as unagi risotto with burnt soy butter and dashi; cavolo nero, tonkotsu, egg and keta caviar; and black sesame and milk chocolate panna cotta. After a fun night out? From the team behind Hackney favourites Brilliant Corners and Giant Steps, Mu is a recently launched Japanese restaurant and live music venue. The neighbourhood spot serves Japanese dishes from its charcoal robata grill (think mackerel with daikon and ginger and scallops with yuzu kosho) alongside thoughtfully curated natural wines and seasonal cocktails. Best of all, live music is on offer every night of the week, and currently encompasses atmospheric solo piano from Yohan Kebede of Kokoroko, free jazz from a network of London’s most accomplished improvising musicians, traditional Cuban music, Brazilian trios, and folkloric Mande music from West Africa.

WHAT TO SEE & DO

If you’re looking to get outside, Clissold Park has plenty of space to spread out with friends or family on a lazy Saturday afternoon in the summer or stomp around at this time of year. The park was opened in 1889 and has held a Green Flag award – awarded yearly to the best green spaces in the country – since 2006. Park Life Café offers locally roasted coffee, cakes and bakes, alongside ice-cream cones, blended-to-order smoothies and London Fields ales. For something more high octane, West Reservoir Water Sports Centre is in a picturesque corner of Woodberry Down, not far from Clissold Park. The centre offers sailing and kayaking for adults and children, all under the watchful eye of expert instructors. At this time of year, it’s one of the best places in the capital to try open water swimming – the perfect excuse for warming up with some proper pub grub at The Jolly Butchers or The Clarence Tavern.

Mu London
DAN PRESTON

Fans of Ganni, Veja, Meadows and Grenson need to carve out some time to pop into Hub, one of the many independent fashion boutiques that help give Stoke Newington its unique character. Owned by sisters Georgie Cook and Louise Power, it stocks brands like YMC, LF Markey and Levi’s, as well as its own in-house label Allsea – a limited collection built around classic knitwear staples all made in Britain.

Down the road is the Rio Cinema, an independent theatre housed in a magnificent art-deco Grade II-listed building. Over 100 years old, it only added a second screen in 2017 and its charmingly limited programme includes just one main feature film per week, chosen by executive director Oliver Meek and head projectionist Peter Howden, although the selection ranges from low-budget arthouse films all the way up to mega-blockbusters. Right now, it’s showing must-watch British film Aftersun, starring Paul Mescal. Dubbed the coolest literary festival of the summer, the annual Stoke Newington Literary Festival has attracted a cult following since launching almost a decade ago. Celebrating the area’s radical literary history with a diverse programme of events, the festival takes place across a range of local venues, including the Old Church and Stoke Newington town hall. Past speakers include renowned food writers Diana Henry and Nigella Lawson and BBC radio host Lauren Laverne.

Clissold Park
SAMUEL REGAN ASANTE/UNSPLASH

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