This one goes out to all the alternative Amy’s, the gentrified Jerry’s and the leaf-loving Linda’s. London Fields is renowned for oozing cool. Full of beautifully bred doggos, trendy tots, and pop-ups a plenty, it’s genuinely hard to know whether to pick this place, that one, or that other fun spot down the road.
Struggle no longer dear reader, as we have done the pondering for you. After chatting to our London Fields team and members, we have narrowed down the lengthy list. Yes, we’ve suffered the crushing disappointment of a dry falafel so that you don’t have to #selfless. Brace yourself for a curated look at the little but mightily lovely area that is London Fields.
Something that East London does not lack is bakeries. With everything from Percy Ingle to Violets (where Megan and Harry’s wedding cake was made, duh), if you’re looking for dough then hop on the number 55 bus and take your pick from the top deck. If you’re not in the mood for bus browsing, save yourself some time and hit up our firm favourite, E5 Bakehouse.
E5 are sourdough connoisseurs. They are passionate about artisan baking methods, organic produce and sustainable, yummy food. They’re also approx. 8.5 lunges from Work.Life London Fields. They start baking as the sun rises, so grab a warm pastry in the morning or try their unreal house made bircher muesli. Their lunch menu changes daily- you can follow them on twitter for their daily menu post if you don’t want to waste lunges- but generally, you’ll find gorgeously-spiced dahl, warming soups and mouth-watering, top quality meat sandwiches. Also, E5 is 100 percent the best thing about working on a Sunday as they swerve the Sunday roasts of their pub neighbours and instead their Italian chef, Marcella, uses seasonal ingredients to make heavenly pizzas for the droves who come to sample LF’s weekend delights.
For something a bit more mysterious, we’d recommend the Institute of Light. Ideally located just one of your best long jump efforts away from WL London Fields, IOL is a multi-cultural social space- think cinema, bar, restaurant, coffee hang out, music store, event space- set inside one of London Fields’ railway arches. With a programme of curated chefs from all over the world, the food is always different and always amazing. IOL have a knack for making food you didn’t even know you needed.
Right now, Sho Foh Doh are in town cooking up delicious Japanese tasty treats. Chef Fumio describes his offerings as ‘unclassic Japanese snacks’. We love the Angry Wings and Hiyayakko tofu. For a bigger meal, try one of their varieties of Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki, which is basically a stack of crepe like pancakes with delicious savoury toppings. Work.Life members get a free membership, so you can eat, drink and chill there enjoying a 10% discount.
Hurry, before Fumio and his team disappear forever!
Cleverly capitalising on a Londoners love of food and succulents, Twigs Hackney is our final must-munch London Fields spot. Twigs is part café, part home and garden shop- a winning combo if ever we heard one.
Fill up on their rice waffles (ideal for gluten-free brunchers) or try one of their rice, noodle or salad boxes. Meat eaters must go for the pork shoulder but the maple and soya smoked tofu is just as sassy as it sounds. The accompanying salad is so far from your standard leaf and dressing- perhaps due to their aforementioned plant expertise- and with its pickled carrot and chilli kick, has a real Asian vibe.
A bonus recommendation goes to their line of TWIGS candles that are all inspired by green, natural scents. These are the type of candles you just need to have flickering in your home throughout autumn, especially if you want it to smell like you’re in a spa/greenhouse which, obviously, you do.
During the summer months, all you’ll need is a picnic rug and a bottle opener but for the other 11 months of the year, London Fields has an abundance of drinking options far away from the samey throng of Old Street.
For pubbing with good tunes and solid snacks, we’d hit up Pub on the Park. Dutifully perched on the edge of London Fields park, this pub serves its east London locals come rain or shine, and with a heated and covered outdoor seating area, you’ve no excuse but to sit back and smell the cider. For sports lovers, they have outdoor and indoor screens but if you want to catch an autumn international then arrive in plenty of time as you’ll be joined by the rest of London Field’s locals. They have a newly revamped lunch menu and, weather permitting, they offer a lunchtime BBQ buffet Thursday- Sunday to soak up the weekend wines.
If you’re feeling like something a little wilder, Wringer & Mangle may just be the answer to all of your bottomless brunch related desires… One of the cheapest in town- £20 for 2 hours of too much fun – Wringer & Mangle is a gorgeous bar in a bright and leafy setting. If you don’t fancy drinking to excess, they have a lovely cocktail menu and a small but meticulously selected wine list which ticks all the boxes for after work sipping.
With a micro-roastery on practically every corner, the coffee competition in London Fields is fierce. Work.Life’s favourite is The Bach on Broadway Market. A rejuvenating 10-minute walk through the park from WL London Fields, The Bach is an exceptionally bright light at the end of your deadline tunnel. Coffee standards are high in this area and boy do they know it. The Bach use Allpress beans, a fellow kiwi run company, who responsibly source and produce their beans to Antipodean (=very high) standards. Plus, much like us, they’re all about finding that work/life balance, fuelling us with coffee during the day and sweet, sweet cocktails outside of working hours. Follow them for details of events and yoga classes @wearethebach.
Ain’t no market like an east end market and London Fields is a cosy home to many. For your perusing pleasure, both Broadway and Netil Markets are great and only a tentative trot away from Work.Life LF. We say tentative because once you go there, you will spend £20 on a selection of dairy free variations of the apple turnover and you will have to resist buying a hand crocheted, multi-coloured baby hat even though you don’t know any babies…
Broadway Market took off from a solo stall hawking jellied eels in 1900 and after a blip in the 80’s and 90’s, the market was relaunched by the local community in 2004 and has since grown to over 120 stalls. With exceptional food, coffee and farm produce, plus unique pieces from local artists and designers, Broadway Market provides its punters with a dreamy Saturday.
Netil Market is a little less crowded and dare we say it a little cooler than Broadway. The market gets its name from nearby Netil House, and is the brainchild of a group of designers who created a market for themselves and their community. If you read our blog on our Fitzrovia space, you may remember the humble car park beginnings of Japanese restaurant, Bao. That very humble car park was in fact the very humble early setting of Netil Market. We love it when things come full circle! They have a bunch of delicious eats- Bao’s of the future- but we love Netil for their vintage glasses shop and interesting crafts and homeware. Plus, it’s open every day! Go early for the best picks.
But what about the grassy field itself? Though they’ve recently banned disposable BBQs (a summer tragedy of epic proportions), the park is sprawling and houses not only a cricket oval but a swimming pool, a pétanque pitch, a BMX track, a city farm, tennis courts and two play parks. Plenty of bang for your buck.
Another casualty of the 80’s, the historical London Fields Lido closed in 1988 after providing over 50 years of family fun. The lido gallantly rose from the ashes in 2006 after nearly 20 years of not-so-secret raves, due to the valiant efforts of the Hackney community and council. It is now a heated, Olympic sized pool, open all year round- a true asset to London Fields and just about the freshest way to keep fit. The lido gets pretty crowded on any day the mercury creeps over 20 degrees but it doesn’t get much sweeter than a twister and a large body of water in the middle of a swelteringly hot city. Otherwise, fitness swims are scheduled every day, as well as classes for adults and children. You can join as a swim member for £32.50 a month or partake in the odd splash for a fiver a go.
If market meandering isn’t enough for you, London Fields has plenty of intriguing spots to pique your interest.
If you’re feeling a little disconnected from your small-town roots, or just fancy hanging out with a donkey named Clover, we have the perfect activity for you: Hackney City Farm sits in all its farmyard glory, just a 5-minute walk from Broadway Market. It’s a surprisingly big area, and although it lacks the exotic offerings of its Vauxhaull and Surrey Quays counterparts (Alpacas though), it has a rustic charm and many a hilarious goat to feed. Also, it’s a working farm so let’s just say the café is delicious…
For loud music and big fun, take in some jazz at Kansas Smittys. It’s a small space so don’t expect to meet people here for an in-depth chat but do expect to squish up and make new friends: this place is popular and for good reason. Smittys is reclaiming jazz. Far from stuffy and pretentious, it’s buzzy and welcoming and if the music isn’t live, it’s blasting from a record player. They hold pretty regular ‘Jazz Raves’ where they play everything from big band to ska jazz, so slip on your dancing shoes and get raucous! Buy your ticket ahead of time for their Wednesday night big band special and watch the magic for yourself. This place is guaranteed to put you in a good mood.
Another well-loved Saturday activity in London Fields is offered up by Five Points Brewing Co who host a banging brewery tour on the second Saturday of every month.
Five points are a relatively young company, brewin’ away underneath Hackney Downs railway station. They’re driven by quality and consistency and, unlike most, all of their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised for maximum flavour and aroma. They’re also a community-led company, who proudly established an apprenticeship scheme for training brewers, paying the London Living Wage, and sourcing all their electricity from 100% renewable sources. The tours themselves are informative and fun; you’ll hear the Five Points story, check out their brewing and packing equipment, find out how the magic happens and of course partake in a cheeky tutored tasting. Five Points makes an appearance at Work.Life London Fields every Thursday for Beer & Pizza Thursdays, so our lucky members can personally vouch for the unrivalled delights of their lagers and ales.
So, why not take a stroll to London Fields to eat, drink, splash and feed the goats?
Plus, as luck would have it, our East London oasis at Work.Life London Fields is holding an open house week on the 5th November. We’d love for you to come spend a week with us! We reckon you could just about fit it all in, sign up here.