There are two ways I like to get to know a city: eating and walking. In London, you can combine both wonderfully – on the East End Food Tour.
In the morning shortly before ten o'clock at the Old Spitalfields Market: Chris and Richard from Brooklyn, Lee Ann and Linda from Chicago, Andreas and I will eat our way through eight different restaurants in the next 3.5 hours with tour guide Nicole. That means we eat, Nicole watches. And raves at each course as if it were their first time. "When I first started touring, I ate it all up. If I had continued like this, my boss would now have to buy me a gym membership," says the Melbourne resident, who has lived in Spitalfields for a few years now. The best neighborhood imaginable, by the way.
St. John Bread and Wine
First stop vis-A-vis the market: Ham sandwich. But what one! The ham, rubbed with salt and honey, air dries for months. The bread: homemade, buttered and grilled over charcoals. The St has been around for ten years. John Bread and Wine already and still changes the menu daily. Only the sandwich that stays.
St. John Bread and Wine, 94-96 Commercial Street
The English Restaurant
Very British continues: bread & butter pudding at the English Restaurant, the oldest house in Spitalfields, which has also served as a nut roastery and warehouse. Bread & Butter Pudding was a typical poor man's meal made mainly of stale bread and milk – leftover food that tastes good and fills you up for the rest of the day. A bit too sweet for me at this time. Eaten anyway. With sauce.
The English Restaurant, 50/52 Brushfield Street
The House of Androuet
Old Spitalfields Market is a mix of market stalls and stores. At the cheese store, we meet Geoffrey, who hands us aged cheddar and Stilton with a French accent. English cheese has not been one of my favorites so far, ripened ones generally not. Already.
The House of Androuet, 107b Commercial Street, Old Spitalfields Market
The tour turns into a journey through time at Spitalfields. There are the handsomely decorated houses of French silk weavers on Princelet Street. The former soup kitchen that, until 1992, served 1 daily.500 meals distributed. The homeless shelter, which until 1999 was sometimes so crowded that people slept standing up. Artillery Lane or Gun Street, which gives you an idea of what life was like when crime, prostitution and poverty ruled the roost. Where Jack the Ripper left his first victim Mary Ann, cars park today. The neighborhood has seen bad times.
Poppies Fish and Chips
We feel transported to the 50s at Poppies: diner style and Elvis from the jukebox. They say it's home to the best fish and chips anywhere. Wrapped in newspaper, just like in the old days. Fact: In 2014, the Poppies won the National Fish & Chips Award. There are competitions ..
Poppies Fish and Chips, 6-8 Hanbury Street
The Pride of Spitalfields
Twelve o'clock, time for a pint? We move in at the pub. Okay, our tasting glasses have the size of a shot glass, the ambience is all the more typical for an East End pub of the old kind: flower carpet, black and white pictures on the walls, piano. And pub cat Lenny on the red plush sofa. The Pride of Spitalfields is one of the dwindling number of free houses. These are pubs that are privately owned and independently operated by a brewery.
The Pride of Spitalfields, 3 Heneage Street
Now it's getting really spicy. Curry House is one of the top ten Indian restaurants in London and the winner of the 2014 Taste Brick Lane Curry Award. Prince Charles was also here and quite enthusiastic, reveals a certificate at the entrance. "After my first vindaloo, I couldn't talk for the rest of the tour," warns Nicole. It wasn't that bad after all, but incredibly tasty. Vegetables, lamb and chicken in various shades of spiciness – I've rarely had a curry as good as Sam's at Aladdin's.
Stomach is long full, but you can still do it: cured beef with mustard and sour pickle in a bagel. The store of Mr. Sammy's has been open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for fifty years. In the morning around four o'clock the party-weary people from the surrounding bars are already queuing up. An institution.
Beigel Beacon, 159 Brick Lane
If nothing else fits, there's still a little room for this sin: Salted Caramel Tart. Pizza East is one of the hippest restaurants in Shoreditch. Rustic food in a shabby-chic ambience, long wooden tables, a bit dark – the concept works.
Pizza East, 56 Shoreditch High Street
What's your favorite, ask Nicole? Clear thing, the winner is: Aladin. But just barely, at Beigel Bake and Pizza East was also really tasty. Actually everywhere. Oh, always these questions ..