Susan Birtwistle visits two neighbourhood hotspots

Nothing says Britishness like fish and chips. It takes me back years to the time when it came in newspaper wrapping – “health and safety” would have a field day with that.
Some say that Forest Gate, Wanstead Flats and Leytonstone are the only bit of real East End left. Iain Sinclair came this way to chat about his new book, The Last London.

He was talking at The Wanstead Tap, a community hotspot tucked away under a railway arch next to some car-repair garages. A café and a craft beer shop to either sup there or take home, I can vouch that they also do a good G&T.

Wanstead Tap Forest Gate East London

Iain Sinclair at the Wanstead Tap

They also have a performance space and as well as Iain Sinclair, their events page lists evenings with Martin Ware (founder of The Human League and Heaven 17) and Robin Ince from the Infinite Monkey Cage.

The charismatic Dan Clapton dreamt up this place with a Tony Wilson vision of “build it and they will come”. He’s right, the 100 or so craft beers and his little black book of contacts makes this one of the most interesting places in London right now. It doesn’t do food in the evening so we went to another local hotspot for sustenance, Mora in Leytonstone. It was opened last year by friends Carlo and Luca, who grew up together in Sardinia.

The exceptional quality of the food keeps this place heaving with locals. They cook and serve with such love and care I found it life-affirming, as well as delicious.

fish stew at Mora Leytonstone East London

Fish stew, Mora-style

We ate like royalty: beautiful smoked tuna carpaccio, the freshest fried anchovies, a delicious seafood stew and fresh homemade pappardelle with wild boar ragu. All of it a knockout.

London is never static but throwing up two neighborhood places of this quality within a 10-minute walk of each other, in one of its least pretentious areas, can only be an exciting thing.

The Wanstead Tap, 352 Winchelsea Road, E7 0AQ.

Mora, 487 High Road, E11 4PG. From £7 a starter up to £19 for a main.