Hospitality Day 2021: Newham's favourite cafe, pub and restaurant revealed

Central Park Café, East Ham team

Founder Sophie Downer and the team at Central Park Café East Ham. - Credit: Julien Ducenne

The votes are in for Newham’s favourite hospitality venues, as chosen by our readers.

Ahead of National Hospitality Day today (September 18), we asked our readers for their favourite café, pub and restaurant in the borough. 

These nominations were whittled down to three finalists in each category for a final vote to crown Newhams’s Hospitality Heroes.

The winners were: Central Park Café in East Ham, Barking Road pub The Boleyn Tavern, and Forest Gate’s Eastern Palace Chinese restaurant.

Favourite cafe: Central Park Café, East Ham

Central Park Café founder Sophie Downer said the recognition, which comes in the same week as the cafe's three-year anniversary, was a huge surprise.

She said: “It’s excellent news, we work hard at the café to make it special and it’s really lovely to have a little bit of recognition actually.” 

To her loyal patrons, Sophie said: “Thank you so much - the café is not really about us at the café, it’s about the customers.

“It’s very community-based and it’s the customers and the staff that make it special. 

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“We employ all local people and everyone really cares about what they’re doing every day.” 

The café prides itself on quality homemade food and coffee, with an on-site bakery making fresh sourdough bread every day.

Sophie said they offered a small but fresh menu.

“We keep it fresh every day, so the idea is to have a small menu that we run out and then make fresh every morning, using seasonal ingredients that are as local as possible."

Favourite restaurant: Eastern Palace Chinese Restaurant, Forest Gate

Eastern Palace Chinese Restaurant staff

The Eastern Palace Chinese Restaurant team of Jessica, Lam, Ivan, Nicole, Lock, Lin and Alan. - Credit: Alan Chan

Eastern Palace head waiter and manager Alan Chan said: “It’s fantastic news, I’d just like to thank all the Newham Recorder readers who voted and also thank my whole team from the chef to the waiters and waitresses.

“It’s been a very difficult 18 months due to this pandemic, especially during lockdown one.

“No one knew what was going to happen, but we kept on going and here we are today.”

Eastern Palace is well-established in Forest Gate as a family-run business for more than three decades, which Alan said contributed to the restaurant's popularity.

“We’ve been trading for over 35 years, so we are a well-known restaurant in the borough," he said.

“We have our regulars so they have supported us during the pandemic very strongly.

“They kept ordering from us regularly - even during lockdown when they wouldn’t allow any seating, people ordered takeaway."

Favourite pub: The Boleyn Tavern, East Ham

Robert Thomas, the founder of Remarkable Pubs Ltd, is flanked by the pub's manager Sean and chef Stephen.

Remarkable Pubs Ltd chairman and proprietor Robert Thomas, centre, with the pub's manager Sean and chef Stephen at The Boleyn Tavern. - Credit: Remarkable Pubs Ltd

The newly-restored pub on the corner of Barking Road and Green Street quickly re-established itself as a local favourite since welcoming back customers less than three months ago.

The historic pub reopened on June 24 following an 18-month closure and a £1.5 million restoration by independent chain Remarkable Pubs.

Chairman and proprietor Robert Thomas said it was "a complete labour of love to resurrect such a magnificent structure steeped in local history".

He said: "Our investment to restore the site has been well spent and so far our patrons drawn from all over the borough have supported that view.

"The site has enjoyed immense popularity.

"My firm specialises in the restoration of pubs like this and particularly Victorian sites.

"This pub is a vibrant and unique contributor to our tradition and way of life - long may it continue to do so."