NFT London Dalston / Kingsland

Dalston / Kingsland

Bustling Ridley Road market is still the beating heart of Dalston, while Kingsland Road is like a Vice mag shoot with Nathan Barleys stalking up and down as though it were a catwalk. With hip bars like Dalston Superstore and Ridley Road Bar, it's no wonder. Cafe Oto is the experimental music cafe de jour.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Healthy Stuff
I'm amazed at how hard it is to find fresh juice in Hackney (as an aside, I'm also amazed that no-one has set up an entirely gluten-free and dairy-free café--come on Hackney! Keep up! No doubt someone is probably squirreling away to make this a reality as I type; if not, it is definitely on my "to do" list). But lo and behold, there is Healthy Stuff on Dalston Lane. It's actually been here since 2011, however it's in a part of the neighbourhood that I rarely frequent. My loss, obviously, as there seems to be lots cropping up on this stretch. But more importantly, I can at last get a carrot, apple and ginger juice at whim! The shop/café also stocks a variety of health foods, organic beauty products and toiletries, natural supplements, and eco household cleaning products. Owners Marina and Benny set up the shop precisely because the area lacked a good health food store so if like me, you weren't aware of its existence, get down to Healthy Stuff now and shop/eat/drink local. And if all of that is just too much goodness for you, you can always have a coffee and a slice of cake.



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Avo
It was my mum who first spotted Avo Hotel in its slightly incongruous location of Dalston Cross, which is appropriate as Avo is a real family affair being run by Sunny Karir, her husband, and her parents. The emphasis is on a warm welcome and the compact yet plush rooms make for the perfect pied a terre. With Sony iPhone/iPod docks, memory foam mattresses and 32" flat-screen TVs you may not want to leave your room but as Broadway Market, Shoreditch, and Islington are so close you'd be missing out. There's also a studio apartment with a kitchenette which can be used for longer rentals and is a nice touch with so much great produce available on Ridley Road and in the Turkish groceries so common in this neighourhood. Avo really embraces the local and hosts events on a regular basis such as chocolate and wine-tasting, fashion shows, and fundraisers. And although they’ve had an enviable amount of press from the likes of Time Out, The Guardian, and Lonely Planet, Sunny is particularly excited about NFT. She told me that she spotted an NFT sticker in Dalston Cafe's window and was curious about how they got it. Now she knows!



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

A Little Of What You Fancy
ALOWYF only just opened on the 1st of October and it's already a firm neighbourhood favourite. We arrived at a brunchy-lunchy hour last Saturday and all seats were taken--luckily I was with an American who on clocking a couple reaching for their coats cut in and declared rather than asked, "I hope you don't mind me being all American and jumping on your table." They didn't, and even gave us their newspaper. That's just the kinda place this is--a bit like being in a friend's kitchen/dining room, you know the one, the one that's always warm and full of delicious things that have been effortlessly knocked out, where there's always a good mix of people around the table? I had the poached egg on purple-sprouting broccoli, the American had fluffy scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast. The dessert spread was too much to resist: the flourless chocolate cake satisfyingly dense and moist, the butternut squash cupcake with white chocolate icing like a sophisticated carrot cake. We were content, very content. Even more so when owners Elaine and Lola offered to fill a jar of their zingy secret recipe homemade tomato ketchup for the American to take home.



Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Christina Theisen

St Vincent's
It's true, there isn't exactly a shortage of charity shops in East London, but we can't help feeling that this one is a little special. Enter St Vincent's, on the northern end of Kingsland Road, and you feel like you entered a family home--where the family's keen to get rid of everything they own, from the bed to the novels to the children's dresses. The mother's showing you where the wardrobes are, while the smiley-faced son wraps those tea pots for you. The clothing offering varies, as do the titles in the bookshelves, but there's usually at least several things that tickle our fancy. The furniture is nothing but great (we count a '20s-style oak desk with drawer among our achievements--for 25 quid). If you still have VHS capacities, they are determined to get rid of everything they have in a radical discounting exercise (that’s five tapes for a pound, when we last visited). And if you really can't find anything, there's always the rough (and not just around the edges) local market (of sorts) just outside the shop, where scary geezers sell whatever it is they just happen to sell, straight from the pavement. Legend.



Posted By:  Jenny Wight
Photo:  Jenny Wight

LMNT
It isn't the Egyptio-Greco-Roman kitch decor that makes LMNT so special; it isn't the piped Opera music or fact that you can sit in wooden balconied nooks with banisters made of old harp frames, at the feet (paws) of a golden sphinx or inside a giant urn; it isn't even the blush-inducing bathrooms decorated with erotic friezes (aka painted porn). It's the fact that despite the effort put into making this one of the most bizarre and wonderful restaurants in London, they haven't forgotten that most people who go out for dinner actually want to eat excellent food at a decent price.



Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Christina Theisen

The Pembury Tavern
Here's the first thing you notice: From outside, the Pembury Tavern looks like high street bank. Here's the second: From inside, the Pembury Tavern looks like the waiting room of a train station. And if that wasn't enough, a walk to the loo feels like descending the staircase to the grotty basement gym of your secondary school. You get the point: if you care for looks, don't come here. But who does? And who does, in particular, if there's a collection of sixteen different (and always changing) hand pumped ales, at least one real cider and a great selection of German and Belgian bottle beers? And lots and lots of space. And about twenty different board games. And no mind-numbing elevator music. And tables big enough to spread out a super-sized foreign newspaper in full. And handcut chips. Exactly, looks don't matter. It's what's inside... well, you know the cliche. Did we mention their malt whiskey offering?



Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Christina Theisen

Evin
Had to sell that fancy office space of yours to afford tomorrow's ration of porridge? No worries. Just join Dalston's penny-pinching freelancing army at Evin Cafe, Kingsland High Street. The wooden tables inside this popular Turkish breakfast/lunch/dinner-joint have the perfect desk size, there's free Wi-Fi (and a life-saving plug, here and there), the coffee's okay and not too expensive and their legendary, but cheap ozleme pancakes mean lunch's always sorted (choose between spinach, cheese and potato fillings). You could watch them being made; they're freshly baked in the cafe's front window. But you're here to work, so forget it. There's fresh orange juice to keep you going through the day, comfy outdoor chairs for smoking breaks and, if you can really still afford the luxury, a decent Turkish dinner menu, once you've got it all saved and closed. Go to the back of the room straight away for the best spot, but don't even think about borrowing that Mac power cable from us. We're really busy, you know.



Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Daniel Kramb

Moustache Bar
You do wonder how much longer Dalston can keep going in its ferocious attempt to turn every grotty basement in the neighbourhood into a trendier-than-thou club. With gig-friendly Bardens Boudoir (36-44 Stoke Newington Road) almost qualifying for the grandfather tag and the dancefloor-minded Vision Videos (588 Kingsland Road) ever more popular, this then is the brand new Mustache Bar. You don't need to sport facial hair to get in, but inside it's certainly teeming with it, both on people and pictures. Suitably small and sweaty, the whole place is a dancefloor, with a tiny bar on one and a handy outside smoking bit on the other side. It was playful electro when we visited, but they seem to like everything from Italo disco to karaoke. With most nights free and all promising to end in the morning, we've already stopped shaving in anticipation for the next time. Let's see what happens. Incidentally, how about connecting all those basements via secret doors, with one stamp allowing you into all of them? Just a thought.



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Arcola Theatre
The Arcola Theatre: bringing theatre to the Dalston masses. Or at least the ones who read the Guardian. But stereotypes aside, the Arcola does a mighty good job at bringing plays by such luminaries as Tennessee Williams as well as offerings from lesser-known playwrights to our doorstep. When I say "our," of course I mean "my" because as a Dalstonite it brings me immense joy to know there is world-class theatre just a hop, skip and a jump away. It also brings me immense joy to hear non-Dalston dwellers faffing before the show starts about where they've parked the car/whether it's safe/whether they should go out in the interval and move it/what if they get mugged in the interval? To which the rest off us chuckle into our sleeves. Bless. This year, Arcola's alternative to panto is Tombstone Tales and Boothill Ballads: described as a docu-caberet, it sounds an absolute treat (18th Nov-20th Dec).



Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Daniel Kramb

Somine
Somine has the power to crush habits. Like most people with an inclination to drink til late (early?), I had an inclination to practise damage limitation by following nights in the east by a) a Brick Lane bagel with lots of meat and too much mustard or b) whatever was left on the sticks of whatever kebab place was still open at the time. It was this jolly Turkish eatery (open around the clock, and they mean it), home where Kingsland High becomes Stoke Newington High, that introduced c) to the list: spicy red lentil soup--simple and honest. It comes with more squishy bread you can eat, strong olives and all sorts of other vinegary stuff (for 3.50 pounds) and has that one rare ability: It leaves you both completely satisfied and entirely guilt-free. I haven't looked back.



Posted By:  Jenny Wight
Photo:  Jenny Wight

Dalston Bus Stop
One of London's special charms consists in sitting on the top deck of a bus as it wheezes along, the driver dodging cyclists and ignoring the desperate window taps of passengers who arrive at the stop a millisecond too late. You can peer at beautiful buildings above plastic-coated shop fronts, down at the tops of people’s heads and even into front rooms. But the strange collections of objects that can be found on the tops of some bus stops are wonders to behold. Sit on the left, keep your eyes peeled and you’ll get to see some pretty interesting street art--though I think the solitary battered malteaser and disintegrating yellow pages are more 'litter' than 'art'. Spot the spudniks around Old St and Hackney--crazy painted potatoes with a halo of toothpicks, or Islington's hearts cut out of turf (now somewhat dry). It is art? Who cares, but it does add a certain something to the daily commute.

Apparently the spudnicks are created by Nonose: Check it out.



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Dalston Lane Café
On an unremarkable stretch of Dalston Lane you will find the unassuming Dalston Lane Café. I had passed it many a time on my way to Hackney but decided to step in after noticing that they serve French toast with bacon and maple syrup. I would go as far as to say I am a connoisseur of breakfast, and this, my friends, is the perfect breakfast--an almost alchemical combination of savoury and sweet. Like most breakfast eateries this place is rammed before noon at the weekend: on a Saturday afternoon I shared the cafe with two or three other single diners. I was not disappointed--the toast was suitably eggy, the bacon nicely streaky and its saltiness a perfect foil to the sticky sweetness of the maple syrup--and the syrup was generous; extra points. What I like about this place is it is somewhere between a greasy spoon and a place that really knows its food. Yes, you can get a Full English but owner John mixes it up with unusual additions to the breakfast menu like Bubble and Squeak or corned beef hash.



Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Cafe Oto
Like most good things in Dalston, Cafe Oto is hidden. Well, not exactly hidden when you know where to go but turning off Kingsland Road into Ashwin Street you turn a corner to confront a gate at the end of the road graffitti'd with "Fuck Pigs" and "Kill the Bil". Wrong turning? Nope, the road bends again and there you will find Cafe Oto: "Things," as the wise man with the bird on his head in Labyrith says, "are not always what they seem." Cafe Oto is a refreshing oasis in the sometimes "so hip it hurts" desert that is Dalston. I say desert because for all its cool posturing there aren't that many cool places to go round here. Run by husband-and-wife team Hamish and Keiko, this place is a bit like nipping round to your mates' during the day-time with coffee, cakes and cookies and Wi-Fi available. But in the evening the place comes alive with a fantastic roster of bands and musicians arriving from around the world as well as locally to play in the intimate venue. Oto means noise or music in Japanese, this is the kind of noise we like in the neighbourhood.




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