I abhor the word “gastropub”. Meant to conjure up images of polished wood beams and artisanal menu items that were brought to you by foraging, rare has pub food actually ignited any kind of excitement. I went to the Artisan of Clerkenwell for a friend’s wedding reception and was incredibly impressed by the food. The pub is nestled in quiet and peaceful St. John’s Square across from the Modern Pantry in one of my favourite parts of London – Clerkenwell. There is even an outdoor terrace – very civilized. After an indulgent day of scoffing champagne and devouring endless packs of crisps on the wedding bus, I was stuffed by the time dinner was served but managed to eat the meal in entirety. And it wasn’t only the mains that were delicious. The canapes served beforehand were also impressive – with special mention to the sweet soy glazed pork belly. Obvs.
First up was a starter of peppered rump steak carpaccio with truffle oil and shaved parmesan. I don’t normally enjoy beef that’s too rare but this had a nice bite to it and was nicely balanced with the parmesan and pepper. Felt really light even though it’s basically a plate of beef.
When the main came out I was already stuffed and thanking the stars that I wore a loose dress. I would love to know how they made this chicken dish so tender. The Char-grilled chicken breast with summer greens, chive mash and tapenade sounds so simple but it was absolutely delicious. I’ve tasted brined chicken before and am thinking maybe this is part of how they managed this – not only was it tender but it had so much flavour. Chicken breast can easily be incredibly boring but this was a winner.
Dessert was Eton Mess and I amazed myself by devouring the entire thing. By this point I wanted to lie down but this is bad form at someone else’s wedding. I’ve had Eton Mess a couple of times before and it tasted a bit heavy with weird extras thrown in – this was nice and light and just tasted like strawberries, meringue and whipped cream. Simple and as it should be. Washed this down with really great coffee. I find it very hard to find good coffee in restaurants/pubs and it was so good that I had another cup. Full to bursting. If you’re looking for a beautiful but low key place to have an event or wedding, I highly recommend The Artisan of Clerkenwell. Gorgeous location and the staff were attentive and friendly. Am jealous I didn’t have my wedding here actually. Would be interested in going back to have lunch from their regular menu!
The Artisan of Clerkenwell
53 St John's Square
I love street food. Easy to find in Asia and abundant in my imagined oasis of Portland, Oregon – but until the last couple of years a near impossible to find novelty in London. Street Feast launched in the summer of 2012 and is held in Dalston Yard every Friday and Saturday until September 27th. Come as early as possible though as it’s so rammed that someone snatched a chair from underneath my heiney as I was sitting down to enjoy my chicken wings. How rude. Also it’s free before 7pm and £3 after so more money for your chicken wing fund.
This delectable pork rib from Hot Box London is the perfect way to unwind post-work on a Friday night. Perfectly smoky and succulent and the cole slaw was the ideal crunchy complement for the ribs, along with the pickles and hot peppers. It’s a great sampler size as you’ll definitely have room to eat more food. Cause there is no point in coming to Street Feast and not feeding at the trough.
Coriander Chicken Tikka – a fresh naan served with fresh salad, sharp pickles and chutney from Rola Wala. Very tasty and it looked like the busiest stand in the place which is saying a lot!
Hand cut sweet potato fries from Bleecker St. Burger, a New York style burger truck. These didn’t blow my mind. The burgers smelled amazing but I couldn’t possibly eat an entire burger at that point. Amateur.
Three of us ordered this Octopus Curry from Vinn Goute, serving Seychelles inspired street food. There was really no way to photograph this well as you can see – it wasn’t the time or place to bust out the food styling manual. But the consensus was that this is the dish to try from this stand!
Nicely charred chicken wings from Mama’s Jerk Station. The spicy sauce they added on top blew my head off so maybe have that on the side if you prefer it on the mild side. Delicious.
By this point I was ready to lie down but the thought of a pina colada ice lolly perked me right up. Did we have room? Could we possibly? Am so glad we did as they LICKALIX make positively divine “poptails” – frozen cocktails on sticks. They make anything from Strawberry Mojito to Pimms O Clock. Felt so refreshed after the pina colada I was almost ready for round two.
Spotted the Kookybakes stand on the way out and gazed wistfully at the Lemon Drop Whoopie Pies. Next time, they will be mine. THEY WILL BE MINE.
Hartwell Street, E8 3DU
We’ve tried most of the Vietnamese places in London’s Phở Mile. The one I frequent most often is Tây Đô restaurant on the East side of Kingsland Road.
It’s not because I think it has the best of everything (well maybe the best crispy fried squid…) but it does have the best post work dinner experience. It’s BYO, it has a huge dining room which means that even on Friday night you’ll never have to wait long, and it’s cheap. Cheap enough to do a couple of times a week.
the Bánh xèo, a crispy rice pancake filled with bean sprouts and meat.
Probably the best crispy squid on the street. Never greasy, and with just the right amount of MSG. Right up there with McDonald’s fries for fast food perfection.
The fried pork cake. A very traditional Vietnamese food. I don’t think they actually make this themselves. But if you like it you can buy it from one of the Vietnamese shops further North on Kingsland road.
Obligatory summer rolls.
Green papaya salad with prawns. Another crispy dish. Shredded green papaya dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. I can’t imagine a good reason for not ordering this.
Chicken in chilli and lemongrass. Not a subtle dish. Full of fragrant oil. Very moreish. First time we’d order this but will definitely get it again.
If you are there for lunch or you just don’t feel like sharin then you might want to get one of their bún. Which is a self contained meal of rice noodles, grilled meat and salad. Or a bowl of phở of course.
Tay Do Restaurant
64 Kingsland Rd