Last frequented by Londonist back in 2007, our ongoing eco-eating mission gave us the perfect excuse to return to Pogo. A small vegan cafe found in deepest Hackney, it's run as a co-operative by volunteers, has a strong activist streak, a busy notice board and a library of flyers. A chamber for voices calling for change, Pogo is also a rather nice place for a hearty, animal- and planet-friendly lunch on the cheap.
Found up a humble side street, it's a simple space that was fairly quiet on the midweek lunchtime we chose to visit. We lingered over our meal making and were around to see a large delivery from Growing Communities arrive. Pogo is a pick-up point for people who order boxes of local veg from the Hackney food growing enterprise.
There's a chalk board of daily specials – both lunches and cakes – as well as a fixed menu of meat and dairy-free burgers and child-sized options. Both burgers and salads come in small and large sizes, allowing the eco-eater to try a few things and still economise.
We opted for a snack size Tex Mex tofu burger. It was huge and served in a delicious homemade bread bun packed with avocado, salad and jalapenos, as well as a succulent and perfectly seasoned patty made from organic tofu and pumpkin seeds. It was a full meal on a tiny plate and only £3.75. We loved it!
We also had a large bowl of carrot and spinach salad and a red cabbage coleslaw – acid bright dishes that weren't fancy but were fresh with clean, crisp flavours. They came with slices of a quite strange, stodgy, sticky bread that was almost cake-like and clearly homemade.
More than just a lunch venue, Pogo runs a series of regular and one-off events including Monday film nights and Saturday morning yoga. Perhaps not a destination lunch spot that's worth travelling great distances for, it is somewhere to seek out if you're a local or you find yourself in the area.
It's definitely somewhere we’re keen to return to at night – we noticed a poster for a just past BYO acoustic mash-up that sounded great. And the tofu burger really was top notch.
Pogo Cafe, 76 Clarence Road, E5 8HB, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays