Located within the grounds of Stepney City Farm, The Allotment Kitchen offers sustainable farm-sourced food from a homely garden paradise in the heart of Tower Hamlets.
The cafe offers locally-sourced and sustainable bites, alongside the most tranquil setting to enjoy them. Opened by sisters-in-law Lucy Cuthbert and Betty Gilbert last May, the cafe is independent and family-run with an emphasis on community. Most of their produce is sourced from within London, even using fruit and veg grown on the farm right next door.
“I think there’s virtually no other place where you’ve got your salad growing 100 metres away from you” says head chef Betty. “We try to set a kind of M25 ring for all our produce except for things like fish that comes from sustainably sourced places in Suffolk”.
This is something that’s very important to the two cafe owners. Sourcing produce locally means they can offer high-quality, environmentally sustainable food, all whilst contributing to the local economy.
The food menu is continually developed by Betty and changes seasonally with the availability of produce. On the average weekday you can order locally-sourced coffee from Climpson’s on Broadway Market, homemade cake and a Mediterranean-inspired lunch. Weekends welcome the all-day brunch menu. Lucy and Betty recommend the house sausage roll, which has quickly become a favourite of regulars.
Opening their new cafe in the midst of the pandemic presented several challenges. Shortly after opening, the duo featured in a Guardian article to talk about the experience. They tell me simultaneously having to adapt to a new customer-base and changing Covid guidelines has meant they have been kept on their toes ever since opening.
However, the cafe owners have successfully seen off the colder months and are now looking forward to easing out of lockdown. “We’ve held on to our regulars and we’re very appreciative that the warm weather is coming and there is a little bit of hope” says front-of-house manager Lucy.
We can’t think of many better places to see in Spring. At the Allotment Kitchen you find yourself somewhere completely sheltered from the sound of traffic, free to listen to the stirrings of nearby donkeys, cows and goats. Colourful and varied crops line rustic walkways as contented farmers to-and-fro with wheelbarrows and tools.
Cities can get claustrophobic sometimes and many of us dream of leaving the the hustle and bustle to live a greener, more rural life. These two have created one right here in Tower Hamlets. The cafe owners assure me that it isn’t as easy as people might think:
“Going into a busy weekend, we were here until 8 or 9pm on a Friday night just rolling out like 70 sausage rolls for the weekend” says Lucy. “It was just us, and that’s what people don’t see”.
Sandwiched between Stepney Green Park and St Dunstan’s Churchyard, The Allotment Kitchen is in one of the most refreshing corners of Whitechapel. It’s a great stop for families who are visiting the neighbouring park or city farm.
The cafe is also the perfect place for anyone who wants to take a few minutes away from the stress of the city. Here you can just enjoy great coffee, delicious food and a welcome breathe of fresh air.
For more information and opening times visit Allotmentkitchen.com.
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