Once home to Olympic athletes, East Village is now a haven for foodies.
A stone’s throw from Westfield Stratford City and the Olympic Park in Stratford it has been transformed into a series of wide streets lined with a host of independent traders.
We went down to find out what they have to offer.
Opening a juice and health food restaurant has been more than a successful business venture for co-owner Jack Cahit Tok.
The former Sky TV engineer used to spend his days driving a van around London scoffing fast food and bacon rolls.
Now he starts the day with a bowl of nutritious porridge and sips a juice a day from the venue’s menu.
“Originally this was just a business idea but it has changed my life as well,” said the svelte 41-year-old.
The Cyprus native started selling healthy drinks from a stall in Covent Garden 12-years-ago and now has four branches.
The East Village restaurant is the latest set up with business partner Ozer Murrem.
It has a menu of 90 drinks including juices, smoothies, protein shakes and wheatgrass shots- with options for vegans.
One of the top picks is the Green Zing which, contains ginger, fennel, spinach, broccoli, cucumber and celery.
Customers can choose their own ingredients at the salad bar or dine on acai bowls, eggs, wraps or a daily changing menu of two hot dishes.
“When I started there was nothing like this and I could see the potential,” said Jack who gets his produce from the local fruit market and New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms.
“Now even McDonalds is doing juices but I don’t see it as competition. It’s good for me as it means more people are into healthy eating.
“Before customers drank smoothies and shakes for fun but now more than half of my business is the really healthy stuff.
“Even if it doesn’t taste as nice people will pay money for healthy drinks.”
Extraordinary flavours such as the award-winning basil and chilli and Cornish blue and walnuts are made on site at this gelato shop.
The duo who dream them up Frenchman Stephane Leyvraz and Italian Antonio Parisi who both gave up high-powered jobs to launch the business.
Stephane Leyvraz, a former international marketing director for ATandT, said: “We were flatmates both working in the City, in stressful jobs.
“After 10 years we could see the wind turning and were both bored so we decided to take a risk and do something we are really passionate about.”
They opened the first site in Covent Garden and then expanded to East Village in 2016.
“It has the feel of a village but is so multi-cultural,” said Stephane, 43.
He brought his knowledge of growing up on the French Riviera, where there is a strong history of gelato, to the business, while Antonio unearthed some old family recipes used by his grandparents in their gelatiera.
The result is a range of mainly egg-free flavours with no preservatives or additives that have won numerous Great Taste awards and have seen them invited to host a pop-up at the Mercante in Park Lane.
They include honey, rosemary and orange zest; Sicilian pistachio and a one-off beer flavour in collaboration with Crate Brewery for World Beer Day.
“We use ingredients that we think are the best in the UK and even pasteurise our milk from The Estate Dairy on site,” said Stephane.
“We travel a lot to place like Asia and Japan to get inspiration but also mix ingredients from local traders to make flavours that are interesting and not gimmicky.”
Quirky can be an overused word but it fits the bill at this cafe and bar.
A giant portrait of the eponymous Tina takes up an entire wall with smaller versions dotted around nearby.
Customers better not get used to her though as the wall will be regularly white washed and local artists given free rein to create a masterpiece.
The menu features meatloaf with a fried egg, a bacon, bubble and cheddar butty, hot chorizo baguette and huge stacks of American pancakes.
And there are rolling kitchen residencies from east London favourites such as Dawg, as well as burlesque, live music, film and board game events.
It all makes sense when you meet larger than life co-founder Steve Hawkins who quit his career in teaching to start a cupcake stall off Brick Lane.
“We hung the first picture because we thought it was a fun and a bit naff,” said the born and bred Londoner.
“Then we found out she was this woman called Tina who was a pin-up in the 1960s.
“We were sat drinking red wine and decided that would be the name. It’s the creative power of alcohol. ”
He opened the first cafe in Dalston nine-years-ago with partner Danny Hilton, just as coffee became “really trendy” and within two weeks it was packed.
East Village is a larger site with a full on bar serving cocktails such as bloody Mary’s and Manhattans, local beers from Hackney Brewery, Beavertown and Frizzanti wine on tap.
Steve, who oversees the two venues in between running the Shine On Saturdays project for schoolchildren, said he loves how “unLondon” the area is.
“I can really see the potential for it to grow. It’s beautiful and you can sit on the terrace and watch the sunset.
“Once people discover it they are always smitten.”
Dashing young Italian Alberto Rosmimi worked in food agriculture across eastern Europe before giving it up for love.
He moved to the UK to be with his wife and fell for Londoners love of food and dining out.
“People here understand good business more than in Italy, where they have plastic tables and expect people to come in.
“Here it is about more than eating so you can really elaborate on your ideas and come up with something interesting.
The Dalston resident who is also the head baker now uses his knowledge of flour milling and ancient methods to create breads, pastries and cakes fresh every day at this artisan bakery and coffee shop.
He serves up scrambled eggs on sourdough with choices such as Italian pancetta, a daily choice of gourmet sandwiches and salads and the best selling item is an egg topped foccia.
His food has proved so popular he has already branched out into wedding cakes and baking classes at East Village .
And soon he will open a second branch 700m down the street specialise in patisserie with cakes and desserts bicycled over to the original shop.
Alberto loves the “chilled” vibe of the area so much he already has dreams of opening an ethical butcher and restaurant nearby.
“It is so beautiful here,” said the 31-year-old who is also a keen sportsman.
“I could serve the most beautiful food but if we were in the middle of a junction it wouldn’t express what I want to say.
“I visited many locations in London and so many were cramped or underground with no windows.
“But here really reflects the ethos of the community.”
During the day this airy restaurant dishes up traditional fish and chips and in the evening transforms into a full on seafood restaurant.
Produce comes from day boat sources and Billingsgate Market and owner Gabriel Early said he and partner Jo Nylander stick to ethical sources.
“Fish is still plentiful but some is prohibitively expensive and part of our business model is to be an affordable family restaurant,” said Gabriel.
“We aim for a high standard of cooking but low prices.”
Customers can expect to find cod, haddock, plaice, skate wing, rock and whole tale scampi on the takeaway menu.
While a range of “crowd pleasers” such as deep fried calamari, moules mariniere and salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes are available to dine-in.
Raised in Greenwich Gabriel learnt how to cook in the Basque region of Spain.
The 53-year-old who now lives in Essex has worked in east London since 1998 running gastro pubs such as The Royal Inn On The Park.
He opened the first Fish House in Hackney in 2007 and the East Village branch a few years later. He said: “It is food I love eating myself.
“The secret to great fish and chips is really fresh chips and the best potatoes you can get, cooked in good oil.
“We get ours from a Hertfordshire farmer and cook them in rapeseed oil because its low in saturated fat.”
On choosing East Village for their second restaurant he said: “We thought this sounded really innovative.
“Creating a rental market around a community involving retail and restaurants.”
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