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Forest Gate’s Globetrotting and Beloved Restaurant Arch Rivals Has Closed

Restaurant open beneath railway arches in east London since 2017 has struggled since the pandemic and will relocate to St. Leonards-on-Sea on the south coast

Arch Rivals bar and restaurant arch in Forest Gate
Arch Rivals in Forest Gate
The Leytonstoner

A unique east London restaurant, which opened in late 2018 and which for four years has taken inspiration from culinary cultures across the world with a modern and inventive menu, has closed. Arch Rivals, which lived beneath a railway arch in Forest Gate, is currently in “hibernation” and is expected to reopen in the southern coastal town of St. Leonards on Sea later this year.

On 26 January, the restaurant’s owners Karen Bundgaard and Michael Sanders, posted a farewell message to Instagram. Eater understands that the pandemic was an especially challenging period for a business that has always straddled restaurant-bar status. It had long earned plaudits for its creativity and for taking influences from the likes of Mission Chinese in New York City.

“Today was our last day of trading after just over 4 years as @archrivals_e7

“We couldn’t have imagined what lay ahead of us when we set up as a bar/restaurant in Dec 2017. It’s been such a mad experience, there’s been highs and lows and even highers and even lowers, there’s been bar snacks and cocktails and coffee and brunch and dinner and wine and beers and chairs and tables and takeaway food and shelves and toasties and coffee again and meal kits and cook-at-home meals and butchers shop and bottled cocktails and bar snacks again and kfc [fried chicken], always kfc.

“BUT most importantly there has been people. People we worked with (special thanks to all of you - suppliers and staff), people we used to work for, people who used to work for us, people who run other small businesses, friends who became customers and customers who became friends and you are all what made it so special - so THANK YOU!”

In Shekha Vyas’s Eater London guide to Forest Gate, she writes of Arch Rivals:

A real hidden gem, tucked inside one of the neighbourhood’s myriad repurposed archways, Arch Rivals is a favourite with locals and is a serious destination for exciting cooking. A frequently changing menu of well executed dishes that aren’t afraid to globetrot for influence, original cocktails, and great wines make Arch Rivals a must try for anyone in the area. It’s also an excellent excuse to visit Forest Gate in the first place.

Arch Rivals will be missed.