We’ve been living in London for over 5 years now and have been known to pledge unwavering loyalty to The East End. We even have a tote bag to prove our undying love for London’s most bohemian, artsy, and culturally-diverse area (and Nude Espresso, but that’s a story for another day). Look:
The other great love of our lives is food – if you’ve been reading Bruised Passports for a while, you would know that we are passionate about trying local food. At Bruised Passports, we believe that sampling local food is usually the best way to gauge the pulse of a city.
Put the two together and what do you get? A Food Tour of the East End. Hallelujah!
We must admit we got very excited when we first heard of a food tour spanning our favourite pockets in the East End – Shoreditch, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields. ‘Sheer Genius – why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ might have been the first words to escape our lips. We promptly booked ourselves places on Saturday’s tour and spent the rest of the week anticipating the culinary delights that would greet us at the weekend.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday, we met Nicole (our tour guide) opposite the Liverpool Street Station. Nicole’s infectious smile and the size of the group (8 people) immediately put us at ease. A quick round of introductions later, we took our rumbling tummies on the culinary ride of a lifetime.
The tour started at the legendary St. John’s Bread and Wine in Spitalfields. Famous for ‘nose to tail’ cookery, an archetypal British technique that utilises every part of the animal’s body, St. John’s is revered in lands far and wide for its rustic food. We sampled (I say ‘sampled’, but it was a large portion) their famous bacon sandwiches – freshly baked bread brushed with rich butter enveloped generous slivers of bacon. This artery-clogging local sandwich is the stuff legends are made of.
Next Up – A traditional pub for an old British classic – Bread and Butter Pudding. The pudding was accompanied with rich vanilla custard spiked with rum. Dessert and rum for breakfast – ALWAYS a good sign 🙂
Banana Bread and Butter pudding with custard
The stodgy sandwich and pudding left us full. I remember getting apprehensive about being unable to sample the other 6 courses of the elaborate feast Nicole had planned for us. But Nicole had other plans. She made sure we worked up an appetite as she walked us through the meandering alleys of the East End, peppering the tour with anecdotal information. Everyone from Jack the Ripper to immigrant Frenchmen made an appearance.
Soon we reached the Spitalfields Markets. We worked our way through vintage cameras and clothes to reach Androuets’ cheese boutique. The cheesemongers are known for their extensive array of cheeses and we couldn’t wait to try some of their finest offerings. As we entered, three platters of different kinds of English cheese, dutifully paired with cranberries, grapes, and caramelized walnuts awaited us. Our favourite was the Blue Stilton.
A variety of gourmet cheeses at Androuet’s
Of course no Food Tour in UK would be complete without Fish and Chips. We visited Poppies, another English institution, for fried cod, mushy peas, and chunky chips. The vintage decor at Poppies did a fabulous job of transporting us to the English seaside within minutes.
Fish & Chips at Poppies
Tummies heaving, we waddled out of Poppies. Once again, Nicole came to the rescue. She reeled off cultural and historical nuggets about Brick Lane with the ease of a historian, introduced us to the street art of the area, and finally took us to her local pub to sample English apple cider. We spent a long time chatting with the rest of the group at the pub – the small size of the group ensured we were all friends by the end of the day.
Back to the business at hand. Next, we visited Beigel Bake, one of the most renowned Jewish eateries in London. As always, the take-away was extremely busy but we did not have queue to get our bagels. Nicole was greeted with a smile by the owners and we were digging into their moist salt-beef bagels before we knew it.
One cannot visit Brick Lane without trying curry. Britain is a nation of curry lovers, so there is no shortage of Indian and Bangladeshi curry houses in the area. We tried some fiery chicken curry, mixed vegetables, and naan bread at a restaurant in the area.
Phew! 7 courses down, 1 to go.
By this time, we were begrudging the lack of elastic on the waistbands of our trousers. But the food babies we were carrying in our tummies could not stop us from binging on the last (and perhaps the best) course of the ‘meal’ – a sumptuous salted caramel and chocolate tart with whipped cream. A buttery crust filled with sticky caramel, chocolate ganache, and the slightest hint of salt – perfect doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The East End food tour is our idea of a perfect tour – delicious samples of typical English food peppered with nuggets of historical and cultural information. It is the best way to acquaint yourself with London if you’re a tourist and the perfect way to fall in love with your city (all over again?) if you’re a resident. If there be such a thing as foodgasm, it is here!
- Eating London food tour company conducts the East End food tour 6 days a week (Mon-Sat)
- The tour is 3.5 hours long.
- Vegetarian? No worries – just make your preference known when you book the tour
- The prices of all meals and tips are included in the cost of the tour
- Wear elasticated trousers – you’re going to need them 😉
- More information about this tour can be found here: http://eatinglondontours.co.uk/east-end-food-tour/
While in London, the best way to explore the city is The London Pass (use code SPRING6 for 6% discount on all passes)
What is you favourite food in London? Tell us in the comments below:)
East End Food Tour – c/o Eating London Tours.