|Wilton Way cafe, Hackney|
Hackney is blessed with quality cafés. The fantastic Taste of Bitter Love might have left Hackney Road for pastures tbc, but there are still plenty of places to get your flat white fix in E8 and E5. Hidden down a residential street in central Hackney, you'll find Wilton Way café. And while expertly-poured lattes and nice things on sourdough may be two-a-penny round these parts - how many cafés have you been to with their own in-house radio station?
Push open this small café's unmarked door (look for a black shopfront engraved with the legend A.Johnson & Son), and before you even reach its counter you'll notice the tiny radio station set up in the corner by the window. This is London Fields Radio, and its volunteers broadcast culture, music and entertainment live from Wilton Way café; the low clatter of forks and coffee cups in the background, presumably.
It's a merry little spot to pass some lazy weekend hours, if you can get a seat. Rainbow-striped pendant lights dangle from the ceiling. Seats are squat stools and vegetable crates, with wheels ingeniously added so they can roll under the wooden benches that run around two sides of the room.
I've never seen anything quite like the counters - a series of wood-topped corrugated steel circles, heaving with cakes and drinks. The tallest one, at the back of the café, seems to house the 'kitchen.' Resembling a converted pissoir, this curve of metal houses a large toaster and, one presumes, a small fridge. There was no sign of an actual kitchen anywhere in the café - perhaps they prep many of the ingredients for the short, toast-centric menu in advance? I'd be fascinated to know how they do it because they've pulled off a catering miracle here - the food is good, and spankingly fresh.
|Avocado on toast, Wilton Way cafe|
Avocado with chilli flakes and olive oil on sourdough (£3.80) was a deliciously simple marriage of the creamy and the chewy-slash-crunchy, but it needed a pinch of salt to save it from blandness. A ciabatta roll stuffed with Brindisa chorizo, piquillo peppers and rocket (£4.50) was faultless. Other toasted delights wafting by included a crispy bacon bap with avocado and tomato sauce (£4.30) and Wilton's rarebit with buttered leeks (£3.40).
|Guinness and ginger cake, Wilton Way cafe|
A slice of sticky Guinness and ginger cake was the perfect foil for a smooth and just-the-right-level-of-creamy cappuccino. The coffee beans are Climpson & Sons, brewed to perfection on Wilton's La Marzocco espresso machine.
If Wilton Way café was in Central London, it could hold its own against Flat White, Lantana and co, and would be packed to the rafters. The fact that it's not in Soho but hidden down a side street round the back of the Hackney Empire, has had a fraction of the press coverage of those places, and is still packed to the rafters speaks volumes: get thee to Hackney.
Wilton Way cafe
63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG