MY BED RIGHT NOW is in Bow, East London. My back garden is within view of the shards of laser lights cutting through the sky each night. My local shop looks right into a series of 5 huge rings in the sky. My home is a 5-minute walk from Olympic Park.
A cynic like many other London residents, I dismissed the Games at first. What I’d assumed would be a burden for local residents revealed itself to be a platform for local businesses around the Olympic Park to shine, cashing in on thirsty mouths and hungry bellies. It’s a chance for cafes in East London to show the world their own brand of local, sustainable food and beans, roasted within the borough.
1. Counter Café
7 Roach Road, Fish Island, London E3 2PA (map)
Price: Full English, £10
There’s a little bridge leading from the Olympic Park to Fish Island. Here, you’ll find Forman’s Smokehouse for a posh dinner and The Fringe for posh drinks, but the place you’re looking for is Counter Café at Stour Space for breakfast. Their homemade baked beans, ketchup, and potato cakes are amazing, as is the vegetarian breakfast. They serve brunch until late in the afternoon, a convenient option for jetlagged Olympic spectators before heading off to the games.
23-27 Wadeson Street, London, E2 9DR (map)
Price: £15 per head
Breakfasting at Bistrotheque means having the chance to sample their top-class menu at a fraction of the price of dinner. Their menu includes items like deep-fried duck egg, parmesan polenta with mushrooms, and smoked duck. Come here for a special brunch with a glass of champagne. Saturday is always busy with locals, so making a reservation is a good idea.
3. Creperie du Monde
51 Chatsworth Road London, E5 0LH (map)
Price: Under £8
Sunday is market day on Chatsworth Road in Homerton, and the station is just 2 stops away from the Olympic Park by overground. The Creperie serve huge portions of crepes and pancakes. Our Brunch Favourite crepe is my top pick — scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with asparagus and hollandaise. Their coffee also comes from local East London roasters Climpson & Sons. There’s always a selection of daily papers, a few outdoor seats, and a cosy basement for nippy English summers.
4. Pavilion Café
Victoria Park, Crown Gate West E9 7DE (map)
Price: Under £10
The Pavilion overlooks the lake in Victoria Park, which is the base for Olympic cycling events, and will also have screens for local residents hosted by BT. Staff have been handpicked as the best baristas in East London, and their coffee comes from local roaster Square Mile. For something different and delicious, go for the Klippers, served with a poached egg and potato cakes.
11-13 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QD (map)
Price: £9 or less
Caravan serve breakfast until 4pm. The menu is extensive, with a lot of international influence. The chefs here like to mix unusual flavours — the rabbit with black pudding and pickled nectarine is terrific. Order a few small plates to share, a really strong coffee, and finish with blueberry friands.