The Pavilion Café, a fixture at the western end of Victoria Park in Bethnal Green, has been going strong for over 10 years, serving excellent coffee and locally sourced all-day breakfasts for over 10 years. These days, the Pavilion Café has been joined by pair of bakery cafes in London (Broadway Market and Colombia Road) and an outpost in Newquay, Cornwall, which opened earlier this year.
The Pavilion Café occupies a circular, glass-domed pavilion (hence the name) on the eastern side of the park’s West Lake. During the winter, there is seating inside, but in the summer, it spreads out the lakeside which provides some of the best views in London. These days the coffee is from Cornwall’s Origin, with a single-origin on espresso. Although the default seems to be to serve all the drinks in takeaway cups, there are proper cups available. You just need to ask when ordering.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s not a lot to the Pavilion Café itself, just a low, circular glass-domed building on the edge of the West Lake. Painted black, with “PAVILION” painted in white on one side and “CAFE” on the other, it’s hard to miss. The closest road access is either via Old Ford Road, which runs along the park’s southern edge, or Grove Road which cuts north-south through the park. Either way, you will have to walk (or cycle – there’s plenty of bike parking available) the final bit, so you may as well enjoy yourself and take a wander through the park en route to Pavilion.
I visited for breakfast on a sunny Sunday in May, when the pavilion doors were open to the elements. Inside, the Pavilion’s own bread was for sale, but other than that, the space was empty, save for the counter on the far side where you order, the menu written up on a series of boards lining the circumference of the building, just below the glass dome. There are brunch, on toast and breakfast menus (each with three items) on the left and tea and coffee on the right.
When you order food, you’re given a number to put on your table, but if you order coffee as well, you have to wait by the espresso machine to collect your drink (don’t forget to specify that you want it in a proper cup). Once you have your coffee and number, head outside to find a table.
There’s quite a variety of seating options, including some benches against the side of the pavilion. However, the best seats are those with a view of the lake. Directly in front of the pavilion is a bar-like arrangement that runs along the water’s edge and out along a small pier. Seating here is on stools and is at a premium! Alternatively, there’s a bench off to the right (as you face the lake) or a two-person table to the right. However, by far the most numerous seating options are the two rows of communal picnic tables under the trees to the left. In all, nine tables (each seating eight people on two long benches) run along the water’s edge, with six more running in a second row behind them.
It was very busy the Sunday morning I was there, but to Pavilion Café’s credit, the whole operation was very efficient. I ordered, got my coffee and no sooner had I sat down than my food arrived. Indeed, had I taken long faffing over my choice of seat (I wanted to sit at the bar overlooking the lake, but all the seats were taken) my food would have got there before me!
I had a vegetarian breakfast, which consisted of a fried egg, mashed avocado, halloumi, mushrooms and some very good sourdough toast. The highlight, however, was the excellent baked beans. I paired this with an excellent, smooth, creamy flat white, made with Origin’s La Calera, a washed Colombian, and served in a glass.
December 2019: Pavilion Café has won the 2019 Best Outdoor Seating Award.
|VICTORIA PARK • OLD FORD ROAD • LONDON • E9 7DE|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Origin (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables & Benches, Bar (Outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Bread|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Yes|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Yes (with login)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local + Cornwall||Visits||25th May 2019|
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