Itching Up To Get In Your Kitch-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!
March 25, 2014
That Was The Food Week That Was!
Top 10 Foodie and Vintage Shops On Brick Lane
February 6, 2014
If you're in London on a Sunday and looking for a fun, foodie day out, Brick Lane is undoubtable the place for you - but it is a road of two halves.
At the top is the Shoreditch end, lined with vintage clothes shops, cafés and street stalls selling everything from food to tatty furniture (or dream restoration projects as they appear through my vintage-tinted glasses).
The bottom half of Brick Lane is the strip famed for its excellent curry houses, garishly lit up with neon signs and big promotional banners proudly announcing their Tripadvisor ratings. The debate begins - do critics count anymore? Have peer reviews won out? To be continued in another food blog post…!
But back to business. Here are my top 10 best shops on Brick Lane to get you started - a mix of food and vintage shopping (because you can't have one without the other around here)...
1) Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory, 226 Brick Lane, London E1 6SA
First up is Hunky Dory, the clothes shop consistently cleaning up in the London Vintage Awards. It’s a small shop with a well-chosen collection of vintage clothes from the 50s to the 70s. Old cycling jerseys, original tea dresses and vintage handbags are artfully presented. My highlight was a brown corduroy pinafore that can only be described as the clothing love-child of The Sound of Music and Heidi. If I'd had long blond plaits and a love of brown paper packages it would have been mine.
2) Brick Lane Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
Open 24 hours a day, you'll smell this place before you reach it. These are not bagels, they’re ‘beigels’ (with an emphasis on the 'i') and they are utterly delicious. Chewy, doughy, fresh and still warm from the oven - the only way to eat them. It's an essential Brick Lane experience.
3) The Vintage Store*
182 Brick Lane, London E1 6SA
It's a retro 80s mecca full of patterned jumpers, slouchy boots and, as the sign says, 'rad mega' clothes for the Shoreditch hipster. It’s essential viewing for anyone wanting to time travel back to 1984. There’s an overwhelming amount of stock (not to mention people) knocking around so if you're feeling a bit weary, take a pew and get comfy on the old cinema seats at the bottom of the stairs.
*I still can't take 80s clothes seriously and I definitely can't bring myself to call it 'vintage'. In my book, true vintage is the fabulous flarey lines of the 70s, the trippy prints of the 60s and the beautiful, feminine silhouettes of the 40s and 50s. Sorry 80s – at best you’re retro.
4) Dark Sugars Chocolate Shop
141 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
If this doesn't blow your skirt up I don't know what will. A huge polished tree trunk stands in the window, it’s branches holding giant slabs of milk, dark and white chocolate. Over-sized smooth wooden bowls hold mountains of intensely flavoured chocolates from Flambed Cognac to Infused Havana Tobacco, Cardamon Orange and Poire William. We opted for a mix of Stem Ginger & Honey and the Chili choc. With a light cocoa dusting, they are soft, slightly chewy and delisioso. The Chili won me over with its gentle chocolatey smoothness before BOOM an unexpectedly hot, feisty party started in my mouth!
5) House of Vintage
4 Cheshire Street, London E2 6EH
One of the finest collection of vintage clothing I've seen. Two floors of clothes from the 40s to the 70s with stunning fur-collared swing coats, feminine day dresses and beautiful floaty evening dresses. The men's clothing looked equally as exciting and the bags and shoes were the icing on the cake. There are even vintage kids clothes for the truly committed vintagista! Every piece was great quality and reasonably priced for the age and condition at around £70 for a dress. They get new stock in every two weeks so it’s worth popping back regularly.
6) Saint Sugar of London
Stall by the bridge, Brick Lane
Well hello to the biggest raspberry meringue I've ever seen in my life. Bigger than my fist and, according to the little chalk board, chewy on the inside (just like my Angela Langford's and the only way to be). It all looked fab but it was the croissant bread and butter pudding that caught my eye. That's got to be worth a coronary or two. And then I saw this on their website and how could I not share it with like-minded foodies?
Dough on a mission
Saint Sugar of London is an association of dough makers
a lover of aestheticsa dispenser of posh dough
the elevation of patisserie to an art form
we are not the cake, but the idea of the cake
we are not the sponge, but the presentation and decoration of it
we are not a classic facade, but a baroque cathedral
we are not here to feed somebody or to sell food. We trade pleasure...
Respect to Saint Sugar of London and their commitment to the patisserie cause!
7) The Black Cab Coffee Company
On the bridge, Brick Lane
1950s London black cab transformed by owner Gray into a mobile coffee shop. Open the boot and out pops the equipment. I'm not a coffee drinker but, according to Jane (my explorer-in-crime), it was a pretty fine brew. Gray’s mum makes the darlin’ mini Victoria sponges - dense, moist, not too rich - well done Gray's mum.
8) @work jewellery – cooking-inspired jewellery
156 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU
Pop into @work for a quick five minutes. The shop displays pieces from a collective of jewellery makers (an earring made of a Barbie's leg anyone?). A quirky jewellery collection caught my eye made especially for Marsala Ramas – foodie-inspired necklaces. Beautiful, intricate silver ladles, whisks, biscuits, cups and saucers and more. Put them on you gift list.
9) The Boiler House Food Hall
The Old Truman Brewery, 152 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU
Once an old brewery and now, on Sundays, a foodie journey around the world. Over 30 food stalls cook up fresh dishes from countries such as Burma, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Japan, Cuba, Venezuela... and Belgium. Every stall was buzzing with punters. Apart from poor old Belgium - nul points for waffles it seems. Having circumvented the world about five times trying to make my mind up I finally settled on Burma (mainly swung by the fact that I went there last year and loved the food). The huge covered hall has picnic tables dotted around, the turnover is quick and the crowd is friendly so you get to cosy up with other foodies and compare notes. It's a great place for people watching too, it's not every day you see a man taking his giant blue pet parrot out for lunch.
Unfortunately Burma didn't really deliver on flavour but Jane’s Cuban pulled pork with mango salsa and rice was delicious. We were there at about 3pm and, if pulled pork is your thing, a late lunch is the way ahead because you get the tasty, crunchy scrapings as well as the soft, succulent meat (my mouth actually watered when I wrote that!). Bonus points also awarded for the very clean loos.
10) The Vintage Emporium
14 Bacon Street, London E1 6LF
Food and vintage shopping converge under one roof at the Vintage Emporium. A quirky café kitted out in Victoriana from old pine tables to cosy arm chairs, twinkling candles and a tinkling piano. The café serves up hearty portions of ploughmans, avocado on toast, cakes and other tasty bits and pieces. Downstairs is the pricey end of vintage shopping – exquisite clothes and accessories from Victorian times up to the 1950s at modern designer prices. The Vintage Emporium is a beautifully relaxing haven and a fabulous re-invention of a Victorian tea room.
So there we go Marsarla Ramas, a few little tips on Brick Lane to get you going. Of course this only goes half way down the lane - the other half is full of the aforementioned curry houses - one for another blog.