The e5 Bakehouse is in a cavernous space under the railway arches of London Fields. One arch, where the counter and a smattering of communal tables are, leads to another, and then another, through a series of larger arches all the way to the back of the bakery.
At the counter I am torn on what to order. They have the usual looking delicious sourdough and rye, plenty of tasty looking sweet goodies, and also cooked breakfasts. They also have a pizza menu. I have forgotten my glasses and they don’t seem to have a separate menu. The guy at the counter is kind enough to read the options to me, but the music and peripheral noise is very loud, so I also can’t hear. I’m finding it a bit stressful, listening to frenetic trumpets as the score for my attempt to choose breakfast. I’m in a Debussy sort of head-space. Regardless, I manage to make out the word trout , so that is what I order – as I sit myself down to wait with my cappuccino drums begin to accompany a conga.
There are no two ways about it; e5 is really bloody popular. The crowds come and go in waves. At one point there are lines out the door, then subsiding to nothing where it starts all over again.
Dogs are barking in the the soundtrack and the sound of cymbals clang around the arches as my food arrives, and i’m genuinely glad that the one word I caught was ‘trout’, because my food looks delicious. Crunchy edged rye spread generously with creamy labne, pickles and dill. Lemon to squeeze, which I do, with abandon. A good glug of olive oil. The trout with labne is delicious, but I’m particularly thankful for the rye, I love it, and I hardly ever find it anywhere. I miss it while it’s gone. The pickle is sprinkled with pepper so it’s umami with a kick.
I like sitting in this place, even with the frenetic music and the organised bedlam. I like the corrugated ceiling, the photos of clouds and skylines on the far wall, and the yoga posters and general classifieds opposite. I like the bustle of people catching up over their coffees and pastries, and the girl next to me on a communal table working through a mountain of handwritten notes. Opposite her a lady waits for an order. An elderly couple come to the table with cake and ask to sit down, the waiting lady moves to the other side to allow them space, and so I find myself at the head of a table of strangers.
The older gentleman looks at the lady ‘What do you think of your cake?’ he asks.
‘Sticky’ she replies.
‘Want to try mine?’
‘Oh yes’ she takes a bite ‘I like this one!’
He swaps their plates.
I’m tempted to take a cookie for the road, even though my waistline doesn’t need it, and i’m in a mental battle with myself when I see a horseshoe shaped almond shortbread. Who am you to argue with almond shortbread?
It’s only when I walk through to visit the advertised makers market attached to the bakery that I get to see the true expanse of the place. There is an entire other section that I didn’t even realize was there. More arches and less communal tables. Another till, more produce and a devoted pizza making station. I walk through the bakery to get to the bathroom. through the buns rising, waiting patiently to be baked, large vats of flour, machines whirring.
It’s then that I realize that the e5 Bakehouse doesn’t just feel like a bakery, or a cafe, a shop or a restaurant, or a pizza place. It feels like a village.
Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace,
London E8 3PH
They have a really nice website – check it out HERE