Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Healthy Stuff - London - E8

There's a silver lining in every dark cloud, so it's been said. Well, that particular lining in the case of my knee injury (which occurred just over two weeks ago) has been the discovery of Healthy Stuff, a gem of an organic food store-cum-cafe. I found it last week on the recommendation of the boyf, and, already, it's become one of my favourite places to hang out during the week, or, at the very least, to recover from my sports massage.

Healthy Stuff stocks sourdough bread from E5 Bakehouse, cakes from the wonderfully-named Exploding Bakery, and brownies and flapjacks from the Happy Kitchen. If you're after something more substantial, go for one of their sourdough sandwiches, which seem to be served throughout the day.

The coffee, brewed from Climpson & Sons beans, is top-notch. If you're not into caffeine, you can go for a chai latte or pick from a range of smoothies.

Now, you, like I, are probably wondering about the existence of such a nice little cafe and grocer in this part of town. If you're not, then it's obvious that I've lived in central London for way too long and need to broaden my horizons just that little bit more. In any case, owners Marina and Benny felt the same way, I expect, leading them to open Healthy Stuff in early 2011.

The cafe area is relatively small, with one large table (seats six) and three smaller tables by the large bay window (all of which seat two each). That being said, the tables are spaced in such a way that you won't feel as if you're encroaching on others' personal space or they on you. There's also wi-fi here, a definite plus in my book.  Not quite fast enough to enable me to catch up on my Coursera video lectures in the late afternoon, but certainly sufficient for a social media addict like me.

The grocery section covers a wide range of items, from household goods to baby products to toiletries to fresh fruit and vegetables to chilled soups and tofu... Essentially, the whole works! Prices here have been surprisingly reasonable as well, comparable to larger organic stores such as Whole Foods and Planet Organic.

Music played here tends to be pretty eclectic. Both times I've been here, Marina's been at the till, and I believe it's her iPod that provides the musical playlist, which has, so far, included classic big band numbers and reggae.

Having walked around the store a few times, it's clear to see that a great deal of care has gone into making this shop comfortable, cosy and a part of the community, from the locally sourced food to the bulletin board on the side of the entrance just as you walk in to the quirky illustrations on the walls, most of which appear to have been drawn by Argentinian illustrator angiejack. I'm especially tickled by the Moomin painting the menu at the front of the cafe.

If I were local, this would definitely be my one-stop shop, the place I'd go to hang out with friends, or just to chill and get some work done, the Dalston version of Central Perk, if you will. That description will probably put some people off ever wanting to come here, but please don't let my inability to express just how lovely this place is to all men and all things put you off from discovering this place for yourself. It really is a lovely little cafe, and it pains me that I'm revealing it for the great wide interweb to invade!

Healthy Stuff
168 Dalston Lane, Hackney, London E8 1NG
Tel: 020 7812 9604
Twitter: @healthystuffe8
Opening hours:
Mon to Fri: 8 am - 7 pm
Sat: 10 am - 6 pm
Sun: 10 am - 5 pm

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