Surrounded by the non stop hustle and bustle of Hoe Street, the Hornbeam Café is an oasis of calm and tranquillity for the residents of E17.
Originally starting up as volunteer run vegetarian cafe, the Hornbeam has evolved to become Walthamstow’s first non-profit, sustainable community café. Outside, the café is decorated with colourful chalkboards and planters bursting at the sides under the weight of all the delicious herbs growing within. Inside, the walls are plastered with flyers for yoga classes, veg boxes, knitting groups and other community events. The decor is laid back and quirky with mismatched vintage china on the tables and hand sewn cushions on the seats. There is also free wifi for people anxious to catch up on emails or escape from the office for the afternoon.
There is always a friendly atmosphere, with customers welcomed by a smile from the volunteers that work at the café. As well as being able to quench your thirst with a nice cup of tea or coffee, the Hornbeam also have a license to serve organic and vegetarian wines and spirits, making it the perfect location for both afternoon tea or a long lunch.
The menu is short and sweet due to the fact that it changes on a regular basis so customers are always treated to something new. It is compiled by Kate and Jenny, the duo behind the vegan food company, Norman Loves who are based at the Hornbeam full time. During the week, salads and light lunches make the final cut whilst on the weekends a hearty vegan brunch has proven to be a popular choice, even amongst meat eating locals.
As expected the food is all locally sourced where possible, with all the bread baked on site daily by The Hornbeam Bakers. This does not mean that a lunch here will break the bank. On the contrary. A lunch, comprising of a starter and a main will set you back approximately £8.50, whilst a loaf of home made bread costs around £2.40. Prices vary due to the food on offer, however meals will always stay affordable.
Whilst it may not be fine dining, the service is always good with water served on arrival and plates being brought to tables by attentive staff. The food is wholesome and full of goodness without it losing any delicious flavour, however above all, it is the atmosphere and community events that make it such a popular location amongst locals. Every Saturday there is a food market offering local seasonal fruit and veg from the Waltham Forest workers cooperative, Organic Lea and during the week, residents can attend anything from Italian classes to a seasonal supper club.
The Hornbeam provides cheap and tasty eats with a conscience. You can find them here
The Hornbeam Cafe, 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 9AH http://www.hornbeam.org.uk/ (0820 8558 6880)
Cooking – 6/10
Service – 6/10
Overall Score 7/10
Prices were correct at time of publication
Words: Grace Molan