Oh to work in Wanstead…

sukibigSuki Orange, Wansteadium’s food blogger, writes about something other than food…

I know I’m not alone in sometimes, once in a while, needing somewhere in Wanstead to do a bit of work.  I mean I have a regular place of work (beautiful walnut roll-edged desk, naturally) but sometimes I  need somewhere in or around the High Street to concentrate for an hour or two.

My needs are simple. A table, a chair, solid wifi, and some access to a power socket. It’s not a lot, and I’ve often thought that I might even be prepared to pay a little bit for it. But there’s only one place in Wanstead, apart from dear old Starbucks,  which really fits the bill, and that’s the library, which gets chockablock by mid-morning.

The other day I was unsuccessfully looking for a spot among the audiobooks and old copies of the Sunday Times there, and wandered to the ladies’, when I noticed a rather unhelpful note on the door of the Churchill Room. That’s the hall by the side, where they have arty fairs. This note read: “This room is not for study or work.” It made it sound rather like there were gangs of youths flitting round Wanstead, taking advantage of any spare room to swarm in and stage an impromptu discussion of the parallels of social discontent in Lord of the Flies.

So it was interesting to see, on a recent trip to the delightful Rivington Bar and Grill in Shoreditch (the restaurant’s setting is wonderful, feeling almost like a shady bit of New York or even Paris somehow) that I stumbled on this little place in the picture.  Probably not too much money to be made of an idea like this in Wanstead, but it’s not like the High Street doesn’t have any vacant properties, is it? The Painted House pop-up office space, anyone?

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Letter to Wansteadium: It’s little but has promise

Wansteadium reader Marian Temple writes:

After a shaky start, things are picking up for Piccolo [the restaurant which took over from Giorberti’s]. Julio the chef and his delightful wife Marta, the new owners, are determined to offer a successful Italian cuisine on Wanstead High Street. Julio trained at the prestigious Italian “Il Cucciaio d’Argento” in New York and for many years he was the head chef at the Adriatico and the Bel Sit in Woodford Green. He is a true master at creating delicious sauces to complement his pasta, meat and fish dishes. All the ingredients are locally sourced; the fish is fresh daily; the deserts are made in house; nothing is bought in frozen.

Marta and the front-of-house team, Nino and Lenka, will be sure to give you a warm welcome, helping you to make a wise choice from the menu and the wine list. Of course there are specials on the blackboard; these change every week. And there is also a take-away service but you do have to collect the food yourself.

Plans for the future include upholstering the benches, refurbishing the toilets, extending the kitchen area – but these will take time and money. Another long term project will be offering an English style roast dinner on Sundays. I am only one of the many Wanstead residents who are delighted to have this Piccolo gem on the High Street, so please go and try it out for yourself.

Suki Orange, Wansteadium’s food blogger, writes: Thank you Marian for this – I confess I haven’t made it to Piccolo since it opened, so it’s good to hear promising things about it.

New broom at Queen’s British Grill

Good luck to another new management at the Queen’s British Grill, for Tuesday, their first day. This change does, however, look pretty interesting.

The new chef is Adebola Adeshina, who has been running Parsons Restaurant in Waltham Abbey. His site biography says the following:

“Born in Nigeria, Adebola (Ade) moved with his family to London as a child. Inspired by his mother’s cooking, he always knew that he would be a chef. After college, he got a job working with the Aubergine team under Gordon Ramsay. He remained with Ramsay for six years, cooking at the three-Michelin starred Gordon Ramsay Restaurant and at Petrus under Marcus Wareing.  He also climbed the ranks working with Philip Howard at The Square, Eric Chavot at The Capital and Tom Ilic at Bonds.  In February 2006 he opened a critically acclaimed restaurant with Fabrizio Russo called The Lock Dining Bar in North London and in 2011 he recently opened Parsons Restaurant in Waltham Abbey.”

The restaurant reopens after a Christmas refurbishment. You can see the man in action here:

sukibigWansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange says: “Naturally I wish them well – as we always do with new ventures. My initial thoughts about the menu are that it’s ambitious if a bit confusing, and maybe a touchy pricey? I’d like to know a bit more about the provenance of the rare breeds it will be using, especially since steaks start at £19.50 on the a la carte menu. (Also I can’t resist pointing out some spelling mistakes on the menu, which might say more about me than it does about the restaurant, but really it’s those kinds of things I notice somehow… I know I’m not alone.) But once again, good luck to all involved – Wanstead needs good restaurants.”

The case of the missing trains

Suki Orange, Wansteadium’s food blogger, writes:

sukibigToday’s Observer has a story about the increasing trend for West End restaurants refusing to take bookings and expecting their diners to queue up outside for a table, Wonk Kei-style. Mr Orange and I could have done with a bit of that ourselves this weekend.

We were taking the rare opportunity of someone babysitting the satsumas to have a night out. But because of the Central Line weekend closure (which seems to create a weekend-long mood of splendid isolation which Agatha Christie or Stephen King would use as the backdrop for some heinous criminality in otherwise civilised company… Anya Lipska, are you reading???) we, like everyone else, had the choice of George Lane or Wanstead High Street.

Reader, we chose Wanstead. I know my review of SumoFresh is massively overdue, but I have been minded to let things settle. While the overwhelming response of readers of Wanstead Talk is positive, and my own experience there has been joyful, I wanted to give a really rounded verdict. So we confidently walked up, knowing that – as is apparently so now – they don’t take reservations. We knew we would dine.

Except that they have just started taking bookings. And were fully booked, of course.

So it was an unplanned return to Provender, where we were welcomed as locals, and promised a spot within 45 minutes, which allowed a short visit to the Cuckfield (where a small glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a pint of Sierra Nevada cost just shy of a tenner). Provender, as ever, was a delight. Central London prices, yes, but Central London food too. Duck for me (who you might call L’Orange) and a meaty steak of brill for Monsieur with luxurious creamed spinach. No starters, no pudding, one bottle of wine and a couple of drinks, and a £90 bill. Phewee. At least we could walk home.

Central Line? We could live without you. (Though please please be working again by Monday morning.)

Hygiene ratings for Wanstead restaurants

sukibigSuki Orange – Wansteadium’s food blogger – writes:
The Guardian (the real one, not the Wanstead one) has published a map of all food hygiene ratings in England, and as far as the eateries on Wanstead High Street are concerned it’s looking pretty good. Only two restaurants seem to have failed to get a 5 rating (ie full marks) – and they were the little lamented Bipasha on Nightingale Lane, which has now become Deshi Spice, and Purbani on the High Street which is still open but scored a 2 in the tests. It’s fair to say the tests are somewhat historical, having been conducted in 2011, but all the information comes from the Food Standard Agency.

Wansteadium reader Dan Lane emailed to say: “Naturally, I checked out the places along Wanstead high street first and I’m please to say pretty much everyone scored a five. The only place to fail was Purbani with a score of two, which is ironic as it always smells of bleach whenever I go in.”


You can have a good rummage round for yourself at the Guardian Datablog here.