Food fight: class war erupts over Stoke Newington’s “snooty” new park cafe

PUBLISHED: 14:57 09 February 2012

Food fight:The cafe in Clissold Ppark's mansion

Food fight:The cafe in Clissold Ppark's mansion


A class war has erupted over Clissold Park’s newly-opened café, with complaints it’s too snooty and expensive – and doesn’t serve up chips and chocolate pudding.

Instead the caf in Clissold House, which opened in the New Year and is run by Company of Cooks, promotes healthy living - and has the likes of cumin, roast carrot, couscous and spiced nut salad and beetroot cake on the menu.

This is much to the consternation of the “yummy mummy” brigade who would rather see child-friendly fare, instead of dishes like a ramekin of baked beans served with toast rather impractically on top.

The café was returned to its former splendour in the £8.9million National Lottery revamp of the park.

Company of Cooks, which also runs Hampstead’s stately home, Kenwood House, was awarded the contract for the renovated café which was returned to its former splendour in the £8.9million National Lottery revamp of the park.

Many people complained that local businesses were excluded from being able to tender for the contract because companies needed an annual turnover of over £1million.

Some people are so incensed they have set up the Clissold Park Café Action Group on social networking site Facebook, and are blaming the “nouveau riche” for turning over the mansion for their own use.

“It is a sad day for those of us who lived in the area all our lives but now those who moved in among us and who wish to turn the area into some kind of poor man’s Hampstead, have won the day,” reads the Facebook page.

“Gone are the days when the café in the mansion would provide basic and hearty food and at decent prices.”

“The problem with the magnificence of the cafe is that its appeal is centred on the more affluent, or perhaps the most self-conscious of the middle class, who perhaps see it as a branch of the nicer cafes that exist nearby on Church Street,” added Allan Beavis on the site.

“As such, it can be off-putting to a large section of the residents who are not happy to pay the prices or might feel daunted by the surroundings and the predominantly more showy clientele.”

They want the council to ensure the café becomes an hub for the entire community, including teenagers and the working class.

Vicky Cahill from Company of Cooks said that although the café had been “incredibly busy” since its opening and many people are “delighted,” they are aware that they haven’t got it right in everyone’s eyes.

“We’re listening to the many viewpoints about the type of food and drink that people want to see available, and in no way see the “opening” menu as the final version,” she said.

In a statement, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for health, social care and culture, Cllr Jonathan McShane said feedback was invaluable as the café is an important part of the park, and they want everyone to feel at home there.

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