Choice tweets about Wanstead, XVIII: Yes we have no potatoes

Chips made from new potatoes, are just WRONG. Nul points, to the Lighthouse in #Wanstead.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Exclusive: Wanstead to get bookshop at last

Wansteadium can reveal that after years of waiting, Wanstead is to get its own bookshop. OK, it’s a charity shop, and will sell second hand books, but nevertheless the news could give Wanstead High Street the boost it has been needing.

Oxfam is advertising for a shop manager for its new Wanstead Bookshop – clearly one of the charity’s specialist bookshops rather than a general charity shop – at a salary of £16,170 plus £2,030 London weighting. Job applications are open until 16 August.

It is not yet clear where the new shop is to be sited, but there are various empty premises which would be ideal, including the former Horsfall and Wright, the vacant Jenningsbet shop, or even the new shops in the former Cuckfield Garage. It’s probably too far-fetched to imagine them wanting to occupy the now closed Andrews’ Builder’s Merchant building, romantic as that might seem.

According to the Bookseller magazine, which has described Oxfam as “the Tesco of the second-hand book business”, it is now the third biggest bookseller in the UK, selling 12 million books a year and making around £20m in profit. It has 130 specialist second-hand shops; sales grew 7% in 2009.

The shops are not without controversy, though, especially when they have opened near existing bookshops. As charity shops they only have to pay 20% of the business rate that other bookshops would have to find, and of course generally rely on volunteers to run it and are selling donated stock. But with the nearest bookshops being the Living Oasis Christian bookshop in South Woodford and the Woodford Green Village Bookshop a 10-minute drive away, there are not likely to be many opponents of this news.

Choice tweets about Wanstead, XVII: The birds…

seagulls in wanstead? have sea-levels just risen dramatically? is the end nigh?less than a minute ago via UberTwitter

Reactions to Wanstead’s Tiffin Tin

The reviews of the new shopfront are glowing – and expectations of the restaurant itself are high, eg this tweet below:

Tiffin tin on wanstead high st is very busy will have to check it out if its just as good as mumsless than a minute ago via HTC Peep

Wansteadium regular Mark Bentley is equally positive.

Tiffin Tin comes to Wanstead. OK, this is getting serious now. PROGRESS.less than a minute ago via web

As the photos above demonstrate, the environment of the Snaresbrook end of the High Street is pretty desperate, so it’s no wonder people are so welcoming of the new entrant.

So one question remains: what’s the food like? Wansteadium welcomes reviews from anyone who’s tried it – either via comments on this post, via Twitter (@Wansteadium) or if you prefer to be anonymous, via e-mail: wansteadium[at]

UPDATE Sunday 25 July
Wansteadium reader Richard Arnopp writes:

“I went to check out Tiffin Tin yesterday (Saturday) evening after looking through online comments on the company’s three existing branches (in Hornsey, Tufnell Park and West Hampstead), which were pretty uniformly enthusiastic. It should be noted here that Tiffin Tin is NOT a sit-down restaurant, but take-away only.

The new shop front is attractive and tasteful. The interior consists of a counter stretching the full width of the shop, with the open kitchen area behind. It’s rather similar in that respect to Oriental Chef, the long-established take-away further down the High Street.

I placed an order and was told that the waiting time would be approximately 15 minutes for collection, or 45 minutes for delivery to my home. I opted to wait and watch.

Despite the fact that it was rather early in the evening (I arrived around 6:30), the restaurant was quite busy, with a steady stream of personal callers and telephone enquiries. My order took a little longer than I had been told (20-25 minutes), but I was given a couple of updates on progress, so I was not unhappy. The kitchen was an unending hive of activity, and it was actually quite interesting to watch how the orders were processed, assembled and dispatched.

My verdict –

1. Portion size

The starter was larger than average, the main course dishes about average. Two complementary poddadums were included, with small pots of mint raita and mango chutney. This was easily enough for two people (or, in my case, two meals for one person).

2. The food

For a starter I had vegetable deurali, which consisted of potato fritters and spicy onion rings. This was tasty, but might perhaps have been slightly crisper…? It was also just a little oily. Not bad, though.

My main course was murga mirchi, a chicken dish in a spicy tomato-based sauce. I liked this – it’s not dissimilar to something I have occasionally cooked myself.

Accompaniments were pilau rice and a plain naan, which were good but unexceptionable.

As a side dish I had hariyali daal, a simple dish of lentils and spinach. I thought this subtly flavoured, with a pleasant consistency. Very nice, in fact.

3. Price

£19.95. Reasonable, I’d say.

4. Overall quality

I’m not easy to please – I take a serious interest in Indian food, and sometimes cook it myself. My overall verdict was: OK to good for the starter, good to excellent for the rest.

Final comments

Everything at Tiffin Tin is bright, clean and new, and the staff cheerful, obliging and polite. Food is good and reasonably priced. All in all, an impressive start.”