The 24 hour Forest Gate gourmet trail

Wednesday 9 April 2014

 Stuck for an idea for a  celebration? Don't want to travel too far? Fed up with fancy West End prices? Had enough of rip off late night taxi fares?

Stay local, play at home and join the 24 hour Forest Gate gourmet trail!

We tried it last weekend, and it was great! It was a celebration with a difference, but with a distinct E7 flavour - in more ways than one!
We started last Friday evening at about 7pm and popped into the Forest Tavern for an aperitif - and, inevitably, meet a friendly face or two for a natter, over a very pleasant, well presented and interesting beverage (a fine range of craft beers and ciders and some pretty decent wines on sale at non-exorbitant prices).

Aromas - fall into it from the Forest
Gate Tavern, and enjoy the meal!
Then, next door for a meal at the recently opened Aroma's Indian restaurant. "Unpretentious", the foodies would call it, and pretty basic in terms of comfort, with a fairly simple and very veggie-friendly menu.  But the food is GOOD: freshly cooked, flavoursome and served with a smile. It's a bring your own alcohol place, so a fortune can be saved there, for the drinkers.
Since the demise of the Empress on Romford Road and Sagor's at the top of High Street North, we've been a bit short of decent Indian's, locally - outside Green St, of course. And Aroma's plugs the gap. Cheap, cheerful - and delicious!

For these reasons, alone, it deserves to survive.  Not sure how it's faring businesswise - there weren't too many diners there at what is normally a peak time for restaurants - but it comes highly recommended from here.  Use it, before we lose it!

End of day one - pretty good. Then back for bed.

Day 2 - Saturday - started off with a stroll along to CoffeE7 for a great little breakfast.  A small, but very pleasing, veggie, menu, with a decent selection of drinks (the hot ones all excellently brewed). The place is busy, shabby, chic and a huge asset to the local community - particularly now it is running book nights, music sessions and hosts local artists.

CoffeE7 - epitome of Community Caff
Want a "community caff?" - they set the standard.

Then we tipped outside to the market and stocked up on organic eggs and vegetables (plenty of very good breads on sale too, if you want). We were too full to indulge in some of the hot food on sale - but previous tastings tell us that we could loosened our belts with a fill up of tasty fare, with no problem.  But, we couldn't resists a take away cake or three from the jolly WI stall - for later.  So, a bag of morning-baked goodies for us it was, then.

No stereotypes here - WI cake stall.
Fresh and delicious!
A stroll was now in order, to walk off some of the calories - so it was up Dames Road, to Winchelsea Road, and the railway arches.

Arch 352 is a must! Slightly off the beaten track (off Pevensey Road, behind the Holly Tree as the promo literature says).  But get along! It's the new HQ for The Wanstead Tap and Cafe. It's only been up and running for a couple of weeks - and is a delight, that will take off. It boasts the usual wide range of, we are told, interesting, locally brewed beers (you know, the ones with the daft and pretentious names) and ciders.
These will become much more freely available once they've ironed out a few problems in the locality (probably after the up-coming local elections when aspiring politicians aren't groping around for bandwagons to jump on).

Wanstead Tap - interesting alcohol, tasty
nibbles, good company - and very child friendly.
That's a big niche sorted!
In addition to the booze, they offer what they modestly (but accurately) describe as "great coffee, great cakes and loads of space for kids".  Yup, a really child friendly meet up point ("probably the biggest buggy space in Forest Gate"), with booze to ease the pain!

For the future, we are teased with offers of films and events, maybe a bit of posh dining in store - so watch this - and many - other spaces, for details.

Cake and coffee for us here (a kind of late elevenses in our day of nosh). Then back to the hub of E7, and a wander in to the Forest Tavern, to stick our head round the record fair (first Saturday in each month). Not much took our fancy, to be frank - but I guess we aren't their target demographic (as the marketeers would have it). But so much better to have, than not have. Keep spinning!

We resisted the temptation for a guzzle in the bar, so stumbled over Forest Lane to the small rotunda outside the railway station, that used to be a flower stall.

It has recently become - you may have noticed - Forest Gate's very own creperie. We couldn't resist. They were pretty decent and more than reasonably priced - particularly when taken in conjunction with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Armetis is the name. Give it a go! The guy who runs it is charming.

A creperie in Forest Gate? Surely not?
Yup, in the rotunda outside the railway station.
Give it a go - they are better than
pancakes, you know!
It is, however, very small - only room for one worker and with a trade selling freshly produced goodies (the crepes and the coffees),  service may not be of the quickest, and so the place avoided by the busy commuters who, I guess it hopes to serve. It would be a real shame if it went under - so, be like me - and become very patronising!

Suitably stuffed, it was a wander home for an afternoon's domestic activities (not forgetting a nibble of some of the WI's finest!), before setting out for dinner, to end the 24hr FG FoodFest, at the Forest Gate Tavern restaurant.

Forest Gate Tavern opened six months
and revolutionised local drinking and eating
Yet another local treat. A smallish, but delightful, menu in what pubs in this chain hate to be called a gastro pub. Very veggie friendly, very fresh food, imaginatively cooked and served by delightful staff. Excellent value and a must return venue, for us.

Thus bringing to an end, a good 24-hour local tour, nosh, nibble, and guzzle for two, all for about £100. Bargain!

A couple of things to ponder: firstly an apology. Stomach capacity prevented a visit to the Siam cafe, which a couple of years ago was about the only place worth eating at in the area, nor to the excellent Kaffine coffee shop - opposite the station.  Both are smashing little eateries in their own way, and would have been included if time, wallet and space for food permitted.

And secondly - as the previous paragraph suggests - all of the places on our trip have opened within the last eighteen months. Quite remarkable - from food desert to delight in less than two years.  How this place is changing!

Next week; altogether much more serious stuff. A fascinating insight into Fascists in Forest Gate in the 1930's - with names, activities, locations, photos etc! Don't miss!


  1. I agree with all of the above. All the places mentioned are fab. I would however like to really recommend Aromas - it is true - use it or we will lose it. The food is really delicious - the mixed grill/naans are yummy and we had a bombay aloo which I loved. It is also byo....

  2. Fingers crossed we see some more high quality shops and restaurants around forest gate in the next 18 months, these really do set a high standard, the coffee at rotunda has to be the cheapest place in London to get a good Lavazza coffee, only £1.30 for an Americano. I try to always get one on my way to work, hopefully others will soon realise how important it is to support these new businesses or week just be flooded with more chicken shops.

  3. Another High quality shop Contemporary Home Design next to Wanstead Park station, this is a lifeStyle contemporary home showroom,flooring kitchens bedroom wallpaper led lights central vacuum system and many more products come and have a look .

  4. What about a BYO weekend?: Siam Cafe; Aromas; some in Green Street (FG end) but with critical food reviews included.

  5. Thanks for your posts, they are appreciated


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