Over my three weeks in London, I finally settled upon my dream neighborhood- the East End. The East End is everything you'd want as a twenty-something; it's packed with street art, cute cafés, lively bars and some of London's trendiest restaurants.
The East End also has hundreds of years of history. For centuries it was synonymous with poverty and over-crowding, and Huguenot refugees, Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and Bangladeshi immigrants have all called it home.
So when Eating London invited me on a food tour of the East End I was totally on board- as both a foodie and history buff how could I pass up the chance?
And if I haven't already convinced you that London's a foodie town, prepare yourself, dear reader.
St. John Bread & Wine // Bacon Sandwich
Our first stop? St. John Bread and Wine. Featured on my favorite travel show ever, No Reservations, St. John is known for its nose-to-tail dining approach, which as an offal lover, I'm all for.
This bacon sandwich was near perfect: thick, cut-with-a-spoon-tender slices of bacon slathered with a secret ketchup sauce and held together by grilled white bread. And what's neat is that both the bread and bacon are baked and cured in house.
And while normally I prefer American-style bacon over English, this was the bacon sandwich to rule them all.
The English Restaurant // Bread and Butter Pudding
What's that you say? Who eats bread and butter pudding at 10 a.m.?
Well at the English Restaurant, you can! Between the creme brûlée crust and the luscious crème anglaise sauce, I was literally sighing with happiness over my bread and butter pudding. And plus, the English Restaurant had the most cozily English atmosphere- I could've nursed a pint there all afternoon.
Androuet // Cheese Platter
To my delight our third stop was Androuet, a little French cheese shop! We tasted two of my favorite English cheeses, cheddar and stilton. And from the first mouthful of perfectly ripe cheese I was in fromage-ophile heaven.
The young French owner explained that Androuet was started in Paris in 1909. I also learned that the owner and I are cheese twins; both of our favorite cheeses is Sainte-Maure de Touraine, an unpasteurized, full-fat aged goat's cheese with a piece of straw through the middle.
Poppies // Fish and Chips
British readers, please skip this paragraph. But to my palate fish and chips is overkill- why pair fried with fried?
But the fish at Poppies was light as fried cod can be, and was especially delicious when doused in vinegar. I also loved the throwback American diner interior and kind of wanted to play Elvis on the jukebox.
Pride of Spitalfields // Ale
Next it was time for drinks, so we headed to Pride of Spitalfields for an ale tasting.
While I love beer, my inner hipster hates that I can't get myself to love ale- it's just too lukewarm and still! And although I sadly hadn't been converted into an ale-drinker by the end of the visit, I'd definitely return to Pride of Spitalfields for its cozy, red-plush interior and dozens of beers on tap.
Aladin // Indian Curry
Would a tour of the East End be complete without stopping by Brick Lane? Probably not.
Brick Lane, also known as Curry Mile, is home to a large Bangladeshi community that immigrated to London in the 1970's and 80's.
The chef served up three curries for our visit, and all were scrumptious- I especially loved the lamb curry. But by this point I was so stuffed even the tastiest curry could hardly entice me.
(But don't worry, I made room. You think I'd let a lamb curry go to waste?)
Street art by Stik on Brick Lane
Beigel Bake // Salt Beef Sandwich
There was quite a line outside Beigel Bake, and from my first bite of this salt beef sandwich I could see why. The fatty, melt-in-your mouth meat paired with the yeasty bagel and dab of sharp yellow mustard made for a perfect fatty-acidic taste combination.
Pizza East // Salted Caramel Tart and Tea
And the grand finale? Dessert at Pizza East! I fell in love with Pizza East for two reasons- first, the uber-chic, warehouse interior which oddly enough we weren't allowed to photograph. And secondly, this salted caramel tart was possibly the best thing I had all day- decadent, chocolaty and topped with coarse sea salt.
My only regret- I wish I would've had room for pizza as the pies coming from the kitchen looked to die for!
Final remarks on the tour
As you may have guessed, I absolutely loved the Eating London food tour. I loved that the tour guide, Nicole, provided so many interesting facts about the East End's history and culture- I was jotting down facts on my iPhone during the tour. And as I've mentioned, the food was bar-none.
And my favorite eat of the day? It's a two-way tie between the bread and butter pudding and the salted caramel tart.
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After lunch I burned off a fraction of the calories I had just consumed by combing the East End for street art. Sigh… I love London.
Have you ever eaten in the East End?
A big thanks to Eating London for providing a food tour in exchange for a review. They in no way insisted that I write a favorable review, and all opinions are (as always) my own. If you'd like to join the Eating London food tour, here are a few tips: don't eat breakfast, bring a camera, show up on time and DEFINITELY wear loose-fitting pants and comfortable shoes.