Summer of Love Local by #ShopStroudGreen

By Sophie Taylor, North Four

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Summer of Love ’67 where freedom of expression, art and love reigned supreme.

#ShopStroudGreen are celebrating with a Summer of Love Local weekend festival this June. Across Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June there will be a veritable smorgasbord of activities hosted, run and made by your friendly neighbourhood businesses, artists and creative types.

The Charity Arts Project, Pretty Shing Shop, Finsbury Park

All events and workshops are free except for the guided Stroud Green walk which is a modest £5 and the Stroud Green Festival music events which are a bargainous £12 (£8 concessions). To take full advantage of all the goings on, look out for the #ShopStroudGreen poster in participating shops to collect your trail map. Then get skipping up the road with flowers in your hair ready to get stickered up like a cool cat. Once you’ve collected at least 10 stickers (one per shop – no cheating) you’re entitled to a free drink from either La Fabrica, The Deli at 80, WALNUT, the World’s End or the White Lion. You don’t have to buy from the shops to get the sticker although #shoplocal is encouraged, of course.

But it’s not all about free booze (or tonic), is it? Well is it? I’m not sure I know these days. The weekend will also see a map bursting with artist pop ups, craft workshops, talks, walks, demos, live art and exhibitions from local photographers, ceramicists, designers and illustrators. Music will float across Stroud Green too as the weekend is also host to an array of events curated by The Stroud Green Festival. Click here for the full line-up

An early rave review from North Four

Fresh Comfort Food: WALNUT cafe and dining by Sophie Taylor (18/05/2017)

Strolling past the empty corner premises of the John Jones’ The Arts Building, we’d started to wonder if it would remain deserted for the rest of all time. Like the insides of my fridge’s vegetable tray. 

Luckily for us however, Finsbury Park dweller Emma also took the same path via the vacant premises.

One day it caught her eye. ‘What do you think’s going on here then?’ she asked Sid, peering through the window and leaving a nose smear on the glass. Sid the Boxer raised an eyebrow and, after an extensive and knowing exchange of expressions, they agreed to enquire about the space.

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Having worked in hospitality with a keen artist’s eye, the Arts Building knew Emma was perfect to take over the space. They were after a morning-to-evening eatery for the neighbourhood, one for local residents and workers alike.

Knowing the street’s reputation as a bit of a foodie strip, the menu had to be up to scratch for it’s discerning super-taster of a community. Yes, we’re a hungry bunch in Stroud Green.

Emma is excited to be a part of the John Jones building, a six storey hub of creativity and culture that reflects the ever evolving nature of it’s surrounds. The founder himself began life as a framer to the art world bigwigs (think Francis Bacon and Hockney).

But now to the important stuff: the menu.

Whether you’re after a salad lunch or filling protein-dense dinner, to eat in or take away, you’ll get a lipsmackingly healthy feed.

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At the launch party recently, we tried the tangy tomato bruschetta and mmm-so-crispy sausage rolls, lovingly proffered with huge, beaming smiles.

The crew at WALNUT are a genuinely happy bunch, eager to make you just as smiley after you visit.

We’d wholeheartedly recommend the white port and tonic with fresh mint and lemon as your new summer tipple – just what was needed on a humid May eve.

With a strong emphasis on locally sourced sustainable produce, Emma’s menu supports local business and independent trade as much as possible. You can expect a stuffed counter replete with an evolving array of salad dishes, savoury tarts and fish.

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If you’re feeling peckish, you can get three salad options with a tart for a tenner (hush, vicar) or one of their epic hot sandwiches for £4.50 if you’re more of a carb appreciation society member.

WALNUT cafe and dining open for my favourite meal of the day: breakfast. I seemed to spy some pretty life affirming eggs float past the window once, which we sampled the heck out of this morning. 

Plumping for fresh, rich poached eggs, we delighted in yolks of a gloriously deep orange and butter spread with abandon over crispy sourdough. No, I’m not watching my cholesterol thanks for asking.


Emma enjoys the more classic recipes and puts people over anything else. She is a truly warm and welcoming host with the most.

We couldn’t be happier with the new owners of the once sad and lonely corner space, now an inviting source of healthy comfort food. 

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The Arts Building welcomes WALNUT

Liz Lowe of the Islington Gazette meets Emma Duggan, the chef at WALNUT café and dining room in Finsbury Park

choc pot

Emma Duggan’s chef’s jacket has crossed London many times during her 25-year career. She’s cooked for the theatrical set in a Covent Garden members’ club and, as head chef of Gordon Ramsay’s Foxtrot Oscar, given Chelsea residents something to soak up the Chablis. She’s worked alongside top chefs, including Angela Hartnett and Oliver Peyton, in inspiring locations such as The Wallace Collection and Whitechapel Gallery.

Emma’s first solo venture, WALNUT, is a café and dining room set within John Jones Arts Building in Finsbury Park representing a homecoming in both location and style.

‘Good, simple, seasonal,’ says Emma, ‘that’s how I describe my food.’

A long-time resident of North London, Emma lives a short distance from the site with her partner and her dog, Sid. Walking by one day, she noticed the previous café had closed, and was quick to make her pitch.

‘We loved Emma’s ideas,’ says Kate Jones of John Jones, ‘plus she has a brilliant background in hospitality and a strong connection to art, so the synergy was perfect for us.’

Bespoke framers and art conservation specialists, John Jones has been based in the six-storey Arts Building since 2014. The eponymous founder built his reputation in the 1960s, framing the work of artists such as Francis Bacon and David Hockney. Situated next to Park Theatre and employing many working artists, it’s a creative hub and emblematic of the regeneration of the Finsbury Park area, something Emma says she is excited to be part of.

John Jones wanted a ‘neighbourhood eatery, with a presence from morning to night’. Open all week, Emma hopes WALNUT will appeal to local residents and workers looking for quick, tasty breakfasts and fresh, healthy lunches to eat in or take away. A counter will be laden with an ever-changing salad selection, plus protein options such as savoury tarts and fish. £10 will get you a big plate of three salads and a tart, and hot sandwiches will be around £4.50.

In the evenings, the vibe will change as the 58-cover space becomes a cosy dining room, with a more traditional three course menu. Prices will range from £7- £8.50 for starters, £12 – £18 for mains and £6.50 – £7.50 for desserts. The food and wine will all be European and guided by seasonality.

‘It’ll be asparagus season when we open,’ says Emma. She’s thinking hollandaise sauce and cured ham from a traditional brickhouse smokery in Suffolk. ‘I like the classics,’ she adds. Emma sources suppliers carefully, with an emphasis on sustainability. She supports small, independent businesses in the UK ‘as much as is possible; after all we’re in the same league as them!’

Front of house will be managed by Kate Higginbottom; previously at Bedford & Strand and described by Emma as ‘just brilliant: staff love her, customers love her’.

WALNUT’s open kitchen is now open and serving up what Emma calls ‘just good comfort food – things people want to eat’.

By Liz Lowe, the Islington Gazette – first published 3rd April 2017

WALNUT, John Jones London, The Arts Building, Morris Place, N4 3JG

Wine for WALNUT

Among the saw dust, abandoned-for-the-evening tools and under the glow of shiny new lights, a few old and new friends and soon-to-be colleagues recently gathered at WALNUT to try a wide variety of wines hoping to make it onto the WALNUT wine list.

Emma Chef and manager Kate joined the tasting led by Andy Gaskin, Development Director at Peter Graham Wines and fun was had trying a full and exciting range from fruity fizz to quaffable reds.

Then came the serious business of deciding which wines would work well with the dishes on offer, what might be the right price and, which ones were best liked among a room of people with varying palates and wine experience.

The list is coming together but there’s hope for a second tasting – just to make sure we’ve got it right!