Eat 17 is an excellent local restaurant, considerably better than the quality of the pun might suggest.
Situated in the conservation area of Orford Road, in the heart of what locals fondly like to call Walthamstow Village, cheek-by-jowl with two pubs, an antique shop and half a dozen other restaurants, Eat 17 presents a colourful, cheerful double frontage; one side is a deli, the other a restaurant. There are two tiny pavement tables outside - but like the Tardis, it’s considerably bigger inside than you’d expect. It goes back a long way and at the rear is a spacious, decked garden area. The sunny, feelgood decor – menus and special boards on the walls, a large artistic graffiti mural of the restaurant’s name, and racks of wine from the deli next door are likely to cheer you up as soon as you set foot in the place.
This is a bustling, busy restaurant and at lunchtimes it is particularly child-friendly. The clientele tend to be the yummy mummies and dishy dads of Walthamstow, with babies and children in tow and the latest Mamas and Papas four-wheel drive buggies. In the evenings the scene is very different - expect to see young couples and young single friends sharing a bottle of wine. Staff are very friendly.
Originally this was a waffle restaurant and this theme is still preserved in the dessert menu - but the main menu has widened considerably and there’s a tempting tange of classic British and European dishes on offer now. A starter of spinach and ricotta canelloni from the specials board is an excellent choice if you’re feeling particularly hungry - it’s a main-meal-sized, oven-baked dish of perfect pasta in a rich, creamy, sauce. The mussel pot at around the £6 mark gives you plump, juicy mussels in a flavoursome garlic and butter sauce - again, the portion is not for those who've forgotten to bring their appetite.
For main courses, a roast pork chop on a bed of bubble and squeak is a wise choice: the chop is large and succulent, pale pink all the way through - though some might find the bubble and squeak, pureed and formed into a neat disc, slightly lacking in texture. The sea bass at around £13 is superb: three snowy fillets, tasting as fresh as the ocean, atop a tian of crisp courgettes and floury potatoes. If you can spare room, do have the chips as a side order - they are hand-cut, crisp and golden, and though you may not intend to eat them all, you will. As for desserts, it would be a shame not to try one of the restaurant's signature waffles. The Zesty Waffle (about £5), a crisp pastry waffle with a light lemony cream sauce, is delicious and slips down easily, even after the generous portions of the previous courses. Also recommended is a rhubarb trifle with creme fraiche - an appealing balance of tart and sweet flavours.
There’s a healthy range of juice, such as the Detox (carrot, celery, apple and ginger) or the Deep Purple (beetroot, carrot and apple). The wine list is short and simple, mainly New World wines with most under twenty quid a bottle. The house white is an Italian pinot grigio for about £12 and the house red is an Italian cabernet sauvignon at about £13. They also serve cocktails on request, which tend to feature freshly-squeezed fruit juice.
The Last Word
An easy, unpretentious but high-quality restaurant which is fun to drop into for breakfast, lunch or an evening meal. A welcome addition to the eateries of E17.