Clissold House reopened this week to the delight of residents, marking an end to the two-year restoration of Clissold Park.
Hackney Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund have invested £9 million in the project.
The restoration has been a long time coming for the Clissold Park Use Group, who celebrated the re-opening of its new cafe, The House, on Tuesday.
“We called it the House rather than Clissold House Café because we wanted people to feel at home,” cafe manager Andy Gordon told the Hackney Citizen.
EastLondonLines visited the cafe to soak up the atmosphere.
As you walk in you are confronted by a mouth-watering array of food: cakes, scones, salads. Behind the counter a useful looking range of alcoholic drinks.
However it seems likely that the keenest new clients will be the buggy brigade. Already, there were clusters of mothers and small offspring. Allie Molineux,29, and Ruth Westoby, 32, were meeting other members of their mother’s group for afternoon tea. Westoby was delighted with the new cafe: “We usually meet in Church St but there is more space here for buggies”, she told EastLondonLines.
Customers of the old Clissold Park cafe will notice some big changes. You can still get beans on toast for the children at £1.75 a portion, but Orange and Lavender cake for £2.50 was certainly not on the previous menu, and nor was cumin, roast carrot, cous cous, feta and spiced nut salad.
The interior is beautiful and well designed with polished floors, a lovely spiral staircase and views of the park and church through big windows, which used to be screened off from view as it was used as a kitchen.
The downstairs kiosk has yet to opened but come the spring it will be a popular spot for young families as it opens onto a wide fenced garden with plenty of space for running around.
The tea shops of Stoke Newington Church St may be worried about this classy new arrival and some of those who used the cafe for tea and toast in the morning, or dropped in for an ice lolly after playing on the swings, may find it all just a little intimidating, but the local estate agents will be delighted. There was a little knot of them happily finishing lunch as we arrived.
The cafe is run by Company of Cooks, who already run cafes at Chiswick House and Gardens, The Regents, Hyde and Greenwich Parks, and other cafe and bar locations such as the Southbank, Imperial War Museum and Kenwood House.
Additional reporting by Angela Phillips