Anyone walking along the Regent’s Canal in search of a hungry fix is advised to diverge from the towpath towards Angel’s Delights. Curiously anonymous on the web, the Dalston cafe has no internet presence and is tucked away on the unremarkable Dunston Road. Situated inside a gritty seventies warehouse that has been kindly acquired by Noble House Properties, Angel’s Delights is not going to be a cult figure for much longer. A stone’s throw away from the East London line, the white arc of progress has only further gentrified a once shady and undeniably violent area.
Since they serve Jamaican dishes inside a premise the size of a toilet with a pavement cafe sheltered by a black canopy and a stolen tyre, no one should expect to pay for their jerk chicken using a chip and pin device. Cash is the only currency down by the canal and unlike the gentrified Towpath Cafe; Angel’s home cooking is just as expensive but served in a less pretentious fashion. Admittedly the squeezed bottles of lemonade are a bit dear at two pounds per head and while their jerk chicken is lusciously tasty – some dishes may leave you coughing up splinty bones.
Situated upstairs is a hippie squat located inside a former sowing factory and this provides the jerk cafe with a colourful selection of customers. More regular punters will be familiar with a beautiful Serbian model and her punk-lite Ken Doll boyfriend, who like to dance with the Jamaican owner in-between orders.
On the nearby towpath the bubbling current of East London’s changing population is forever rising to the surface – angry cyclists, sporty female joggers, junkies, estate teenagers with fishing rods and skinny blonde twins carrying bags of cider from Tesco. Many of them stop by to ponder their next Jamaican take away or spot of lunch by the water. Time is not on their side. The bulldozers are due to arrive in August and will soon be constructing ‘beautifully designed 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with the finest contemporary specification’.
With economic progress comes homogeneous flats and the canal is changing shape at a terrifying pace. Relics of the industrial past with smashed windows and graffiti, which have since been reclaimed by the arts crowd, possess a feral quality like the birds on the water. During the breeding season, coots defend their territories by screaming, flapping their wings and pecking at intruders. Coots may well soon be only thing wild and adventurous left on the canal, as luxury properties continue to rise from the ruins of the past and wipe Angel’s Delights off the map.