Wansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange writes:
The first McDonalds opened in San Bernardino, California. The first Starbucks opened inÂ Western Avenue, Seattle. The first Larder opened in Wanstead High Street, London. All three – worlds apart in their styles – are now known the world over.
Well… a humble Wanstead loyalist can dream can’t she?Â But all big chains start somewhere, then expand in due course to a second shop. The second Larder opened yesterday, Sunday, in Globe Road, Bethnal Green, in much larger, more ambitious premises than Wanstead allows. It’s near to the Museum of Childhood, and is in more grungy, even artistic quarters than E11. But the style, decor and atmosphere will be familiar to Wansteadium regulars.
Proprietor James and co have taken the opportunity not simply to give the capital another coffee shop, but are instead using the larger kitchen facilities to experiment with providing something more creative for lunch or for weekend grazing.
The menu offers ten options, all vegetarian and even vegan.Â Ordering is easy and done at the counter with waitress service to your table.Â Us grown-ups had pesto paneer with a squash and feta salad – yummy pesto and fresh herby flavoured salad; polenta chips with smokey beans and a fried duck egg – perfectly crispy polenta and beans (not just the haricot variety), tho tasty could handle a bit more smoke.Â Children had a veggie fry up with mushrooms, potato cake, tomatoes and egg and the ubiquitous pizza (same as those available in Wanstead).Â Food, overall was good but I think we all agreed they could be a bit more adventurous on the seasoning.Â And to drink, cafe latte (perfect temperature and strength) and fresh Cherwell Valley apple juice.
For those not dining, there is a visual feast in the form of cakes and pastries.Â From cup cakes with large slivers of chocolate stabbing the sugary icing to rich dark chocolate brownies dusted lightly with icing sugar.Â There is even Lemon and Poppy seed Polenta cake for the less sugar-hungry.
And then to the offerings more associated with the name, The Larder offers some storecupboard essentials such as olive oil, granola, museli, chutneys and jams and a variety of teas, even some tomato sauce, none of which are high street brands making the invitation to buy more seductive.
So in many ways it’s the same Larder but its target market is very different.Â The layout feels it could offer different things to the 20-something trendy designer/artist/writer crowd – a bar and stool area which offers a quick stop for espresso and croissant; a table and chairs area for a more dedicated eating occasion and a breakout area for a relaxing peppermint tea with slice of Calfoutis.
The extra space, including a secluded sunbaked patio and herb garden, takes away one of the biggest frustrations with the Wanstead shop – that you never know if you’ll be able to get a seat. (As for the other – that it’s so busy, the service is rarely snappy – it’s too soon to say since the waiting staff seemed to be getting to grips with which table was which number.)
I hope it’s a success. Bbut at the back of my mind I’ll be hoping it’s not SO successful that the original becomes the dispensable.