This weekend I took Chesini out for an autumnal cycle from New Cross Gate to The Hackney Downs to check out THE RUSSET for some well earned grub! The Russet is a community cafe is based in Hackney Downs Studios. It's name derives from the fact that 15 heritage apple trees were planted in the orchard in Hackney Downs Park, four of the varieties are russeted. And an Egremont Russet, was planted around the opening of the cafe. The old print press under the arches has now been transformed into a creative space and cafĂ© for the local community.

There are three people behind The Russet, Lizzie Bassham, Amy Letts and also Steve Wilson. Steve has a background working with the experimental food designers, Blanch and Shock and has been involved with the People’s Kitchen at Passing Clouds in Dalston. Which aims to raise awareness of the problem society has with the amount of food we waste. Every Sunday in Dalston, the music and Arts venue, Passing Clouds serves up nutritious meals that are made from food that cannot be sold by shops but is perfectly fine for consumption. Steve is only 27, sort makes you feel that you should be achieving more doesn't it....

Once Chesini was safely locked up we ventured inside to sit down at the rustic wooden tables and mix matched benches. 

"The Russet aims to serve local people with good food at reasonable prices. The produce used to design the menus is local, seasonal and fresh. We support the re-localisation of the food production system and in doing so will ensure that the food and drink represents the terroir of the cafe. The seed of The Russet was planted in early Autumn, when apples are harvested by the bucketload. Menus will change daily and be inspired by the changes of the seasons and the produce that comes with nature’s shifts."

The Russet menu is delightfully seasonal and you can see they focus on local and fresh produce. They source the beer from London Fields Brewery, coffee from Bow's Union Hand-Roasted coffee, 
E5 Bakehouse bikes over it's fresh bread and cakes are homemade in their on-site kitchenThey even have their very own Russet Apple Juice and home-brewed Dalston Cola & Raw Fiyah Ginger Beer. You can't really make it more local than that!

We both had a Fiayah Ginger Beer, which as I had heard packed a punch but was not horrifically sweet like most other ginger beers. Very refreshing.

The tapas is served from 5pm - 10pm, we were too early for it, but it looked good and is something I'd like to go back and try!

It was around 3pm, so wanting something not too brekkie we opted for the Latina Pippina. Which was, fried Plantain, Avocado Salsa, Black Beans, Fried Egg & Sourdough for £7. Both of us didn't seem that sure about ordering a brunch/bekkie dish so late in the day, but our doubts were quickly dashed! It was really really tasty, with a slight kick (not what that was a bit like tobacco) and I personally loved how they'd sprinkle the top of my fried egg with a pinch of sea salt. 10/10! 
It was no frills food with fantastic flavour!

Considering we'd just cycled 12miles, plus a few more considering we got a little lost, so it was decided that it would be only right to try one of their homemade cakes, there was plenty to choose from. I choose the Green tea and blueberry cake - wow delicious! Again perfect on the sweet front, in that wasn't too sugary. Loved it! But cause I'm a fruit demon, I would've loved a few more blueberries in the cake or perhaps a drizzle of blueberry compote juice over the top of the icing? hmm I would love to get my hands on the recipe.... ;) 

As well as serving breakfast, lunch and also a Sunday lunch menu, they also host exhibitions and events and the space is available for hire. Which brings me to why we made the long cycle journey to Hackney Downs from South East london.

Next Thursday, The Russet, is holding the London Bicycle Film Festival opening night party and a selection of BFF film screenings including the first screening of "The Coldest March" which is shot, directed and score composed by Ben Pickett. I've had the privilege to work with Ben and Brother Cycles previously on a short film for their Road Frame, you can watch it here.

"The coldest March" is on a whole new level! It follows two friends Will (one of the brothers from Brother cycles) and Mingo who take on the challenge of cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End in 72 hours, that is THREE days! They tag team it by cycling 75 mile stints each, none stop day & night, cycling on the same bike. One slept whilst the other cycled. Ben's film follows them on this 880 mile journey through the changing scenery and weather conditions, freezing temperatures and not much sleep.

So if you're about pop down for a beer and come see this epic journey!

Hackney Downs Studios
Amhurst Terrace
E8 2BT

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