Curious Trends


Homespun food in London’s East End

From Clerkenwell to Spitalfields, from Hackney to Dalston: homely dining experiences are happening. Home produced, homemade, handcrafted and locally sourced foods are appearing in the cafes, delicatessens and restaurants now springing up throughout the East End of London.

On a corner of Mare Street by the canal there’s a small café serving wholesome, home cooked food – I don’t even know the name, just look for the graffiti on the wall. They don’t have an alcohol licence, but you could always try this sickly sweet canned coconut water with curious floating bits (presumably not local).

Opposite, on the edge of Vyner Street is Ombra, a local Italian with a quirky, artsy vibe. Water bottles on the tables are old decanters and Amaretto bottles. The menu is handwritten on an A4 notepad. Watch the food being cooked in an open plan kitchen (Bethnal Green style). Cocktails include a mean Campari and soda.

Just down the road, at the start of Broadway Market, there’s another new venture. Market Café, on the site of what was once the Sir Walter Scott pub, has been refitted with mismatching lamps and a curiously mashed up interior scheme. Lighting on the tables is supplied by old honey and mustard jars used as candle holders.

The ambiance is yet to be determined, but the food shows promise. Starters include globe artichoke and sprouting broccoli with bagna cauda. There was a chunky fish stew (see above top) and dish of the day - porchetta with braised fennel - on the menu, as well as the inevitable veggie (in this case leek and Montonmery cheddar) pie. Puddings were creatively presented in teacups and retro style coupes. The Montgomery and Hackney Marsh honeycomb combo is recommended.

Spot the deliberate typo on the menu:

By the way, this is great Prosecco:

Back in Shoreditch, it’s a shame I didn’t make it to Rochelle Canteen, housed in an old school building at Arnold Circus (and given rave reviews by a local fashion designer). The venue is only open for breakfast, elevenses, lunch and tea – perhaps it’s too dangerous there at night? As I approached, I was frightened away by the sight of a pit bull terrier that didn't appear to be on a lead - and a huddle of hooded youths nearby made me feel rather threatened. At least the East End is still edgy, if that’s what you’re after.

I ended up going to Franze and Evans, a delicatessen/café (see above) with a splendid array of home cooked foods. They allowed me to choose my own selection instead of opting for a set dish. I was trying to be healthy. But actually, everything here looks healthy and homemade. If you’re dining alone, you’ll feel like you’re among friends. Even the table decorations have a homespun feel.


By Jes on 14/07/2012 03:34:11

Looks Good!

By Profoundly Superficial on 03/04/2012 17:39:33

Can't wait to come over to London and check out these places for myself!

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