This guide is lovingly written by the area’s popular long-running online title Leytonstoner.
The renaissance of the little curve of Grove Green Road, where it meets the pedestrianised tip of Richmond Road, is the perfect example of how East London keeps reinventing itself.
Once rather rundown, with boarded-up shops and a closed pub, back in 2017 its fortunes started to turn around with the relaunch of the revamped Heathcote & Star. Now once again a mighty E11 institution, it hosts everything from free yoga to gigs, clubs and comedy nights, with a strong drinks game and eclectic kitchen residencies. The outdoor area, part-covered, even boasts a central cocktail bar, while the leafy garden is more akin to a rambling country pub than one of Leytonstone’s more urban corners.
There are other cultural highlights to be found here. Opposite is a three-part mural by the Wood Street Walls collective dedicated to Leytonstone-born Star Wars make-up artist Stuart Freeborn, himself commemorated by a blue plaque on Grove Green Road (blue plaque fans should also check out Blur superstar Damon Albarn’s on nearby Fillebrook Road). Behind are the railway arches that house tiny taproom Solvay Society – which specialises in Belgian-style beers brewed in Leytonstone – and Arch Deli, a neighbourhood delicatessen, natural wine and craft beer store, the baby of experienced brewer Michaela Zelenanska, a former manager at Clapton Craft. Both are atmospheric secret spots to linger with a beer or glass of vino.
A taco’s hurl away is Filly Brook, quite possibly Leytonstone’s most popular venue, with an eye-catching wall artwork by Lucy McLauchlan painted, along with many others, for the recent London Mural Festival. A disused scouts’ hut that’s been transformed into a craft beer and wine bar, Filly Brook’s dimly-lit dining room serves Asian-inspired small plates under different kitchen residences. The soundtrack is vinyl-only, with DJs setting the tone on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’ve never been, the adjoining heated garden is surprisingly spacious, too.
Weekends see the airy window counter, and its various rooms and outdoor seating areas, packed at Unity Café, our personal tip for coffee and pastel de nata on a lazy Sunday morning. As well as sourdough toasties, there’s even now an alcohol license for an Aperol Spritz or beer on one of their terraces, too. And if you want to potter around for gifts, lifestyle store Jo & Kesi supports artists and makers in Leyton and Leytonstone.
A few other useful stops on this curve? Alberto's Antiques, also in the railway arches, deals in vintage fireplaces, grates, mirrors and chandeliers, while nearby Sit Collective is a workshop run by a small group of local and independent upholsterers. With two very decent Chinese takeaways (Happy Valley and Yat Sing), and rather glam new dry-cleaners Icon, this is another corner of E11 that continues to evolve.