Verdi’s Italian – Stepney Green E1

L and I were headed to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park this Friday night to watch Lift Festival’s Depart – an interactive circus performance through the underworld. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to hedge our bets and satisfy our stomachs with a good meal first.

And so we kicked off the weekend at nearby Verdi’s Italian restaurant (as it turned out, Depart was brilliant and utterly mesmerising – it’s returning in 2017 so do see it if you can).

Stepping into Verdi’s with its pristine white table cloths and nice layout was quite a contrast from the outside world of Stepney Green. So far so good.

 

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Plenty to smile about in Stepney Green, East London

 

 

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Inside Verdi’s – clean and pristine

 

Our welcoming and obliging waiter brought us a bottle of prosecco @ £21.00 and for starters we ordered scallops @ £7.50 and octopus soup @ £7.95 (it was described as being in a tomato sauce but was more like a soup – quite unusual).

 

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Scallops wrapped in pancetta with fruit mostarda

 

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Baby octopus in a spicy tomato sauce – a soup

 

For main course, L had pappardelle wild boar @ £10.50 while I had a quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50, a good old traditional Italian stonebaked pizza.

 

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Pappardelle wild boar

 

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Quatro stagioni pizza @ £9.50

 

 

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Menu

 

For dessert we both ordered the Verdi special, mascarpone with nocino liqueur @ £4.95, absolutely gorgeous but very heavy and sickly! It would probably be good for sharing between two. And we were treated to limoncello on the house as a digestif. Altogether our three course meal for two with prosecco came to £75.77 including service.

 

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Verdi special dessert – mascarpone with nocino liqueur

 

The verdict: Traditional Italian food done well. Sets itself apart from the local area. Somewhere to visit if you’re after good food in Stepney Green.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: 237 Mile End Rd, London, UK
– Postcode: E1 4AA
– Nearest station: Stepney Green
– Website + menus: Verdi’s website
– Photos on flickr: Verdi’s images
– Location: Verdi’s map

Verdi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hungry Donkey Greek Kitchen – Petticoat Lane

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Cosy Greek cafe serving all-day breakfasts and Greek favourites from moussaka and souvlaki pitas to filo pastry pies and strapatsada (cheesy scrambled eggs and tomatoes).

I was walking along Wentworth Street in London’s Spitalfields district on a freezing cold winter’s day, when I first noticed the newly opened Hungry Donkey and was immediately tempted by the vegetarian all-day breakfast, and drawn to the small, cosy space as I peered in through the window.

A couple of days later R and I visited for lunch. Service was welcoming and helpful from the moment we stepped into the warmth. On asking the waitress about the all-day veggie breakfast, she went the extra mile not only talking me through that, but other vegetarian options too (I didn’t have the heart at that point to mention that I was also tempted by some of the meaty dishes, like lamb moussaka and skewered meat ‘souvlaki’ pitas. Next time).

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Interior – simple style – light and bright with two corner walls of glass + low-hanging lights

On this first visit, I had a vegetarian all day breakfast in a sourdough sandwich @ £4.75 and grilled halloumi @ £1.00, while R had a souvlaki sausage pita @ £6.50 with grilled halloumi @ £1.00. All ingredients are carefully sourced and meat is from animals raised in a sustainable, ethical manner, with Aubrey Allen butchers named as a supplier (“Sausage is wild boar, pork and leek. The wild boar are free-range and are reared in an ideal and unique surrounding on Mount Olympus, Greece, by the Fotiadis family”. Appealing, no?).

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All day breakfast – sourdough sandwich

That we visited again a few days later clearly says how much we enjoyed it. On our second visit, the cafe was full (already a popular lunchtime spot with the locals). I had strapatsada – scrambled eggs with fresh tomato and Cretan mizithra cheese on bread @ £6.00 (ok, let’s just get this out there: it might look a bit like sick but it tastes great) with a side of grilled halloumi @ £4.00, and R had a souvlaki pork pita wrap served with tomato, tzatziki, onion and paprika @ £6.00 with extra grilled halloumi @ £1.00.

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Egg strapatsada – scrambled egg with tomato and Cretan cheese on bread

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Souvlaki pork pita with halloumi – with tomato, tzatziki, onions + paprika

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The Greek Kitchen area at Hungry Donkey

We’ve tried red (Manolesakis estate exis 2014 @ £4.25), white (Theodorakos estate kydonitsa, laconia 2011 @ £5.25) and rose (Gaia 14-18H agiorgitiko 2014 @ £5.00) wines by the glass so far – all of which really are Greek to me. But more importantly, all perfectly drinkable.

The verdict: Great food and wines (more posh-nosh-cafe than greasy-spoon) served in a cosy, light and airy space, with welcoming, helpful service. Keep an eye on the Hungry Donkey website for evening events like Greek craft beer and food pairings or spit roast feasts.

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Food menu

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Drinks menu

More of the menu – last updated 17 Jan 2017:

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Manouri and ladotyri cheeseballs with thyme, honey and boukovo chilli @ £6.00

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Plate me up: spit roast lamb with hand-cut, skin-on chips, cherry tomatoes + tzatziki @ £13.50

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Eggs pastourma @ £8.00

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Moussaka @ £12.00

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Breakfast eggs with tomatoes and peppers @ £6.50

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Greek
~ Address: 56 Wentworth Street, London (Off Petticoat Lane Market)
~ Postcode: E1 7AL
~ Nearest station: Aldgate East, Aldgate, Liverpool Street
~ Website + menus: Hungry Donkey website
~ Photos on flickr: Hungry Donkey Greek Kitchen images
~ Location: Hungry Donkey Greek Kitchen map

Hungry Donkey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taberna do Mercado – Spitalfields

Portuguese tapas in East London

C and I went to Taberna do Mercado for a light lunch during our lunch break (so had limited time). Arriving at the entrance in Old Spitalfields Market, we walked through the inviting covered terrace area and into the main restaurant, which is light and appealingly simple: lots of wood, not a table cloth in sight (I have an irrational dislike of table cloths), low-hanging lights and sturdy shelving displaying Portuguese products like bottles of oil, tinned fish, and wines, etc.

 

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Welcome to Taberna do Mercado – canopy extension

 

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Informal dining space inside Taberna do Mercado
 

We ordered four dishes and although our waitress told us to order more (that four wouldn’t be enough, and suggested another small plate, perhaps some protein) we decided to stick with just four, with the option of ordering another later if needed.

All four dishes were beautifully presented and were more than enough for lunch: a big bowl of green bean fritters @ £5.00, Terrincho Velho mature cheese made from sheep’s milk with toasted sourdough @ £8.00, ‘tinned cod’ in a red pepper paste served in a tin with wafer-thin pickled cauliflower and sourdough @ £8.00 and a spicy chicory salad special with almonds @ £6.00. All really, really tasty and unique.

 

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Green bean fritters @ £5.00

 

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Terrincho velho mature cheese – from sheep’s milk, with toasted sourdough @ £8.00

 

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‘Tinned cod’ – Cod with fermented red pepper paste served in a tin with toasted sourdough and pickled cauliflower @ £6.00

 

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Chicory salad special – spicy, with almonds @ £6.00

 

There’s an excellent selection of Portuguese wines – I had a glass of Quinta do Ameal vinho verde (dry white wine) @ £6.00.

 

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Main restaurant area at Taberna do Mercado

 

The verdict: Excellent and affordable food, in an informal and appealing space. Service was slightly off (in that our waitress told us – rather than suggested – to order more, without checking how much we wanted to eat for lunch). I’ll go back when I’m not restricted on time, as this is the kind of place to eat shared food leisurely and linger.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Portuguese
~ Address: 107b Commercial Street, Old Spitalfields Market, London
~ Postcode: E1 6BG
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Taberna do Mercado website
~ Photos on flickr: Taberna do Mercado food photos
~ Location: Taberna do Mercado map

 

Taberna do Mercado Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Habibi Sushi Spitalfields – CLOSED

Conveyor belt sushi in East London

Habibi (an Arabic term of endearment, like darling, baby or love) Sushi is a small Japanese-style restaurant on an alley (or ginnel) near Spitalfields market, where you can pick small plates off a conveyor belt and order hot dishes too.

L and I met for lunch here today, our last meet up before Christmas (taking care to avoid yet another turkey dinner) and it was fairly quiet.


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Tempura on conveyor belt, spicy aubergine @ £1.95, mixed sashimi @ £5.05


Current plate prices:
~ silver @ £1.95 – the likes of veggie temaki rolls, spicy aubergine salad
~ pink @ £2.60 – prawn nigiri, California rolls, etc
~ orange @ £3.50 – tuna nigiri, chicken katsu
~ yellow @ £3.95 – spicy tuna maki, mackerel or seabass sashimi
~ blue @ £4.75 – mixed nigiri, tuna sashimi, crab tempura temaki rolls
~ purple @ £5.05 – assorted salmon + tuna nigiri, Habibi sashimi mix


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Conveyor belt sushi – octopus nigiri, California rolls, etc


It may not be authentic Japanese but the food was mostly good (aside from the tuna sashimi which was a bit tough and stringy, and partly inedible) and delivery was very speedy – our hot dish orders (vegetable gyoza @ £1.95, chicken gyoza @ £3.50 + chicken katsu @ £3.95) arrived almost immediately.

The verdict: one of very few independent sushi places in the area (getting my vote – in part – for this reason) where you can dine in or take away. Good choices, good service. I’m most likely to return for take away.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, sushi
~ Address: 7A Artillery Lane, London
~ Postcode: E1 7LJ
~ Tel: 020 7247 5290
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate
~ Website + menus: Habibi Sushi website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Habibi Sushi food
~ Location: Habibi Sushi map


Habibi Sushi on Urbanspoon

KERB street food – Spitalfields

KERB comes to Old Spitalfields market in E1 on the first Wednesday of the month

From 11am – 3pm on the first Wednesday of every month, KERBanists set up street food stalls on Lamb Street at the back of Old Spitalfields market in Tower Hamlets, selling a range of culinary treats stemming from all over Europe and as far afield as the Middle East, Korea and the USA.


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KERBanists: Kimchinary, Kooky Bakes, Jamon Jamon Paella, Capish

More photos of KERB at Spitalfields here>>>



Food stalls include the likes of:
~ Capish creators of Italian-American tomato-ey meatball sandwiches
~ Falafel Al-Hooriya serving up traditional Gazan falafel in Arabic flat bread (vegan)
~ Jamon Jamon Paella making Valenciana + seafood paella
~ Kimchinary serving spicy Korean burritos (pulled pork, ox cheek, sauteed aubergine)
~ Kooky Bakes offering whoopie pies (salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake), brownies + small batch baking delights …you’d best be quick!
~ Miss P’s Barbecue cooking up barbecued fish + meat, served in a sandwich or skinny


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Kimchinary’s Korean burritos – pulled pork + kimchi


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Lightly toasted on the outside before serving – slightly crispy, sealing all the sloppy-tastiness inside


This Korean burrito from Kimchinary was full of moist, slow-cooked pulled pork, spicy and sour kimchi (prepare for the endorphin rush!) and crunchy veggies, and grilled before serving which crisps up the outer layer of the burrito and seals in all the lovely sloppy contents.

Made fresh and served hot, this burrito @ £6.00 wasn’t exactly the cheapest lunchtime sandwich but Kimchinary had the longest queue on my visit, appearing to be the most popular stall.


The verdict: nice and spacious food market with a sufficient variety of stalls – shame it’s only here once a month.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Street food market
~ Address: Lamb Street, London
~ Postcode: E1
~ Nearest tube stations: Liverpool Street, Aldgate East (or Shoreditch High Street – Overground)
~ Websites: KERB + Spitalfields
~ Photos on flickr: images of KERB at Spitalfields


RELATED LINKS
Nearby street food markets:
~ Goulston Street food court
~ World Food Market at Devonshire Square




		

	

Happy Days – oily chips

I wanted fish and chips last Friday lunchtime but didn’t have time to walk over to award-winning Poppies at Spitalfields. What a dilemma hey.

An alternative option was to try Happy Days instead (reputedly where the only clue in the Jack the Ripper murders was found). Goulston Street Food Court was busy as ever although there wasn’t a queue at Happy Days, despite being #FishFryday lunchtime.


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Happy Days fish and chips shop – Goulston Street Food Court


Service was swift and polite. I ordered regular cod and chips and didn’t have to wait. They were already prepared and served up immediately. Being a sunny day, I sat outside and watched the world go by in the food market.


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Goulston Street Food Court – on a sunny day


The cod itself was fine although the batter was a little greasy so I left some. Not a biggie; I would eat the fish again from here.

But the chips were incredibly oily (without being soggy). They were crunchy yet absolutely saturated with oil (loads of oil oozed out when I pressed on the chips – they hadn’t been drained at all). Oil was the overpowering taste and left an unpleasant coating of lardy grease in my mouth, making them inedible. They got left.


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Cod and oily chips


Verdict: A portion of fish and chips from Happy Days just isn’t in the same league as those from Poppies of Spitalfields (less than five minutes away). It’s worth the walk.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: British, fish and chips
~ Address: 44-46 Goulston Street, London
~ Postcode: E1 7TP
~ Nearest station: Aldgate, Aldgate East
~ Photos on flickr: images of Happy Days food
~ Location: Happy Days map


RELATED LINKS
More East London dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese
~ Drift Bar – International
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City
~ Momo’wich – Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats
~ Poppies – fab fish + chips, East End


Happy Days on Urbanspoon

Poppies of Spitalfields – fab fish + chips

Poppies of Spitalfields is the national winner of the Independent Fish & Chip Restaurant of the Year Award, 2014 (not fish and chip shop – that award goes to Quayside in Whitby).

It’s no surprise then that there’s a queue out the door and along Hanbury Street this Friday lunch time, as people want to get their #FishFryday fix at this 1940s East End style restaurant (seems more like American diner theme now) complete with juke box.

There’s a shorter queue for the take-away counter so that’s where we head, given the sun’s come out and it’s finally nice enough to eat outside.


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Take-away counter


I order a regular cod (£6.50) and regular chips (£2.00), generously sprinkled with salt and vinegar (at my request), served up in ‘fake newspaper’ patterned paper and bag covered in a mish-mash of East End stories (including a ‘Jack The Ripper Body Found’ story about Annie Chapman, as well as the local blitz in WWII). Nice touch.


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East End newspaper patterned bag


We sit outside, by Spitalfields Market, to eat in the sunshine. The cod is succulent and the batter crispy (even if one side of fish skin has been left on) and the chips are perfect.


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Regular cod and chips from Poppies of Spitalfields


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Succulent cod


It’s a generous serving for a ‘regular’ – none of us manage to eat a full portion.

A top recommendation by D, Poppies is likely to become a regular #FishFryday haunt…

More Poppies menu options:

 

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Seafood platter – @ £12.95

 

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Grilled plaice @ £9.90

 

Restaurant + take-away info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Fish + chips, British, seafood
~ Address: 6-8 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, London
~ Postcode: E1 6QR
~ Tel: 020 7247 0892
~ e: info@poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
~ Nearest stations (overland + tube): Shoreditch High Street, Aldgate East, Whitechapel
~ Website: Poppies website
~ Spitalfields take-away menu: here
~ Photos on flickr: images of Poppies fish + chips
~ facebook page: Poppies on fb
~ National fish + chip awards: organised by Seafish UK
~ Location: Poppies restaurant map


RELATED LINKS

More East London dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese ramen, katsu, don etc
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City / East End
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats


Poppies Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon