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Barn The Spoon at Leila’s Cafe

July 18, 2013
by the gentle author

Behold the mighty Barn the Spoon, a titan among Spoon Carvers

“It was Leila’s idea,” confessed my friend Barn the Spoon, when I came upon him fitting this handsome willow spoon rack at Leila’s Cafe in Calvert Avenue next to Arnold Circus. “I’m doing it so that regulars can have their own spoon made by me and then keep it here to use whenever they visit the cafe.” he explained helpfully, “They’ll eat their soup or porridge with it and then afterwards it goes back on the rack.”

“When I was eight, my mother took me to Le Chartier in Paris, where the diners keep their own napkins on the wall in pigeon holes,” recalled Leila McAlister, revealing her fond inspiration for the project,“and it became an illicit mail service with people leaving notes for each other – so maybe that will happen here?”

By now, Barn had fitted his rack – which he hopes will be the first of many if the idea is successful – and then he stood back to examine his handiwork critically, arranging a few spoons to test the effect.

First on the rack was an alder spoon made as a gift for Leila, with her name graven on the handle. “Leila’s spoon is a Scandavian design from a bent branch, so it was very complicated to carve, ” admitted Barn, placing the cherished implement reluctantly in its new home,“It’s so beautiful, I really wanted to keep it.” Beside this, he put a cherry spoon based upon a medieval London spoon at the Museum of London and then a Welsh cawl spoon in sycamore wood to complete the trio.

“I think eating with a wooden spoon is a beautiful thing, it’s a different way of life,” Barn suggested to me, stroking his beard and getting lost in contemplation of his handiwork, “You’re going to become a different person if you eat with your own handmade spoon.”

The three of us stood in silence admiring the completed spoon rack. “It looks so at home already,” added Leila with a smile of approval.

From left, traditional Welsh cawl spoon in sycamore wood, medieval London spoon in cherry wood based upon an example at the Museum of London and Scandanavian style spoon in alder wood.

Spoon made for Leila McAlister from a bent branch of alder from Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

Get your own spoon from

Barn the Spoon, 260 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ. (10am-5pm, Friday-Tuesday)

and keep it in the rack at

Leila’s Cafe, 17 Calvert Ave, E2 7JP. (10am-6pm, Wednesday-Saturday, until 5pm Sunday)

You might also like to read

Barn the Spoon, Spoon Carver

Barn the Spoon at Bow Cemetery

How Leila’s Shop Became

Leila’s Shop Report

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Sally Hirst permalink
    July 18, 2013

    I’m from the UK, but live in Melbourne. I am envious. I wanted a spoon by Barn very much and visited the shop on Saturday 6 July. But Barn was out. And he doesn’t sell online and anyway that would not be the same. Next time.
    I have enjoyed the blog now for over a year and it inspired us to explore Spitalfields and the environs while we were in London this time. It was strange to feel you know a place, but from reading about it. Don’t stop Gentle Author, your writing is much appreciated for the content and the expression.

  2. July 18, 2013

    Lovely, I shall get a spoon.
    BUT!
    Joy of joys you have helped me find the Paris restaurant I have been trying to find for years. I went there as an art student, with all my fellow art students in the eighties. I’ve been trying to re-find it ever since, but no-one recognised my description of it.
    Chez Chartier here I come.
    Thanks, wonderful blog.

  3. the gentle author permalink*
    July 18, 2013

    Dear Sally, I am sure we can arrange to send you one in the mail if you want – just let me know!

  4. nicola baird permalink
    July 18, 2013

    Utterly lovely piece. “You’re going to become a different person if you eat with your own handmade spoon…” Great spoons. Great man. Great idea.
    Nicola http://islingtonfacesblog.com

  5. July 18, 2013

    Oh the spoons are so splendid! I will have to get one if I can bear to tear myself away from the cows…

  6. July 18, 2013

    Lovely post on Barn the spoon – but I love your new heading with sheep and houses even more.

  7. Deby (in Canada) permalink
    July 19, 2013

    Wonderful to see another post about Barn… I have had the good fortune to meet him on two recent trips to London and the joy of selecting spoons. Agree with Jill – love the new heading -the houses and sheep are a treat!

  8. Sally Hirst permalink
    July 19, 2013

    I would like that GA. Should we discuss via email the way one orders such a bespoke item, or items?

  9. Dorota permalink
    August 2, 2013

    Excellent idea! I would love to have my own spoon hanging at Leila’s :-)
    This makes you feel at home…

  10. Mike permalink
    November 22, 2013

    Hi Barn,

    Are you selling spoons online? I live in Dublin and cannot get to the shop. My wife would love one.

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