Lily Vanilli

Restaurants , British Bethnal Green
Critics' choice
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(8 user reviews)
3 Love It
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Rob Greig
Lily Vanilli

Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) carved out a solid, celebrity-packed fan base well before opening her own bakery. Her foray into sculptural, macabre cake creations (roadkill cake, gingerbread gravestones, marzipan beetles) gave sweet treats a contemporary, anti-cute makeover and set her far apart from the mainstream cupcake clan.

It’s a touch surprising, then, to find her first establishment, just off Columbia Road flower market, completely void of gore. The baker’s experimental creativity, however, remains on show.

On our visit, we ogled a towering pomegranate and coconut Victoria sandwich, glistening honeycomb and ganache tarts and individually turned out cherry bakewells. The bakewells – lined up like cherry-topped pork pies – had a unique pastry top concealing buttery, almond-sweet frangipane and a beautifully sharp fruit compote. The more familiar red velvet cupcakes were equally good, as was a heady, deliciously naughty absinthe and mint ice cream.

Space is tight (this is a bakery, after all) with not much indoor seating and a courtyard area packed with customers. Vintage styling and rustic touches (wooden boards on the counters and areas of bare brick) make this a cosy teatime destination – one you’d gladly make the effort to visit on Sunday, the sole opening day.

Venue name: Lily Vanilli
Address: 6 The Courtyard
E2 7RG
Cross street: Ezra Street
Opening hours: Open 8.30am-4.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Cambridge Heath rail
Price: Tea and cake for two with service: around £12
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Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
2 people listening
Angela L

What is with the £10 credit card limit these little cafes impose on an increasingly cashless society these days? Also they didn't have soy for the coffees on Sunday morning, their most busy day of the week due to Columbia Road Flower Market... really unacceptable. Service was just so disinterested, geez, where did they hire these people? There are other places, this looks trendy but really, I wouldn't go back.


THE BEST! THE BEST! A SUNDAY ESSENTIAL! most delicious treats sweet and savoury. the root cake is the best thing to ever happen to a vegetable.


Absolutely delicious moist spelt carrot cake, cut generously for £3, you could really taste the quality of the ingredients and the care that had gone into baking it. Washed down with literally the best coffee I've had in London (just pipping Soho's Flat White to the post). My gf had the salted chocolate brownie which was melt in the mouth lovely (at least the corner I got to try!) The countertops were overflowing with unusual cafe treats we didn't get to try this time: mini bakewells, velvet cupcakes, delicious-looking sausage rolls, even Absinthe ice cream (!). There's a buzzy atmosphere as it's popular and different and a feeling of having found something happening. I didn't find the staff (including Lily Vanilli herself who was a gracious hostess with the mostess) unfriendly, just busy and serving people fast to keep the queues down.


Excellent quality and delicious cakes! A massive range to choose from. Fun & knowledgable staff. We had a perfect afternoon!


Not impressed by the cupcakes: very plain and not many varieties available. Staff could be nicer and more polite.

Little M

Unprofessional staff. Difficult to place an order from a voucher, treated us as second class customers.