As the peckish of London well know, you can find almost any food your belly desires in the East End. But if you want some pointers to the best back-street bolt-holes or to savour some strictly off-menu dishes, Walk Eat Talk Eat will guide you. If you’re wondering where to find a cosy spot for afternoon tea, a belly-full of crackling, or a hooker, then guide Charli Matthews knows the answer.
Each Sunday, Charli leads small groups around four or five foodie stop-offs on one of three different routes. First up on the Brick Lane to Spitalfields Market ‘late afternoon lope’ was Mason and Taylor — not for one of its many, many beers but for a nice cup of beef tea. This manly sounding old-fashioned ‘restorative’ is no longer offered on M&T’s menu but you can sip its cosy lightness once Charli’s sweet-talked the chefs.
After that, it’s off for a wander through the back alleys of E1 to spot street art and ogle the kind of concept shops you probably hate yourself for loving.
Stop two was Leila’s Shop for seasonal Kent pears. Not an obvious choice but a great one: they’re a size more common among grapefruits and so perfectly ripe it’s pointless fighting the battle to keep your chin clean. Fruity goodness then turns to meaty indulgence at The Albion Caff. Its incredible pork crackling providing a loud, crunchy accompaniment to Charli’s tales of the area’s history. Then it was into the warm embrace of Swedish cafe Fika for the rich, deep, long-lasting flavour of reindeer sausage.
Rolling back onto the streets for more factlets and tales, the last stop was the Princess Alice for a Chambord-and-cava take on Kir Royale and some afternoon tea. If you’ve a corner to spare.
The relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the Walk Eat Talk Eat tour makes it not just about gorging your way through the East End and learning its little quirks and tales. It’s also a great way to get chatting with the people you meet, even if half of your conversation turns to mmm.
Alex Lemon took a tour at the expense of the guide.