Where To Eat & Drink…
It’s no secret east London is home to some of the capital’s very best restaurants, and many of them are award winning. Inside Shoreditch Town Hall, Isaac McHale’s The Clove Club is one of London’s most exciting. The Michelin-starred spot serves a selection of tasting menus in the restaurant’s front room and up at the striking blue-tiled bar countertop. Inventive dishes could include the likes of chilled courgette soup with Cornish crab, parmesan and basil; or Hazelwood grilled lobster with Corsican pomelo and sage. It’s definitely one for special occasion dining. In another town hall down the road, you’ll find Da Terra. This sensational Michelin-starred spot is headed up by chef Rafael Cagali (The Fat Duck, Fera, Aulis) who focuses on Latin-American cuisine with Italian inspiration, with food served via a six or nine-course tasting menu.
Tomos Parry never expected to receive a Michelin star just six months after opening Brat on Redchurch Street, but that’s exactly what happened back in 2018. The restaurant can be found up a dark stairway, with guests making their way through the kitchen into a bright room with huge windows and 1930s wood panelling. The menu presents seasonal produce from across Devon, Cornwall and Parry’s native Wales – all cooked over wood fire. Current highlights include grilled hake with clams, velvet crab rice and burnt cheesecake with grilled rhubarb.
Elsewhere on the Michelin trail you’ll find Lyle’s. A modern British restaurant, Lyle’s is loved for its daily changing tasting menus. The menu always includes vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian options made using the very best produce – expect to sample the likes of razor clams with sungold tomatoes; and fig leaf ice-cream with blackcurrants. Opened in 2018, Leroy was awarded a star in the 2019 Michelin guide and has continued to grow its loyal fanbase – even creating Royale, a popular roast chicken delivery arm, during the first lockdown. Head chef Simon Shand likes to focus on simplicity and flavour, with current menu highlights including fine green beans with peaches and gorgonzola; and sea bass and squid tagliarini. As you’d expect from a wine bar, the list of bottles is varied and excellent.
East London is also home to some old favourites. Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s Rochelle Canteen sits in the converted bike shed of the old Rochelle school, looking out to the trees of Arnold Circus beyond. The restaurant’s seasonal, daily changing menu is small and pleasing, combining classic and modern European styles – think roasted winter tomatoes from Sicily, or whole shoulders of roasted lamb and whole brill, designed for sharing. Down the road, one of the capital’s few Burmese restaurants, Lahpet, serves a small-plates menu featuring traditional dishes such as coconut noodles with chicken; yellow pea paratha; and hake masala with lemongrass rosti. Make sure you leave room for pudding – the cassava cake, served with jaggery sorbet and chocolate, is excellent.
Pasta fans are spoiled for choice. Gloria Trattoria was the first UK launch from Big Mamma Group – the team behind Ave Mario and Circolo Popolare – which specialises in high-concept spaces and menus filled with Italian-sourced ingredients. Amid the maximalist interiors (picture ivy-covered walls, overflowing terracotta pots and retro crockery), visitors can make their way through a menu of decadent Italian classics and Instagrammable cocktails. La Gran Carbonara, a homemade spaghetti chitarra for two served in a whole round of pecorino, is a must-order. After opening in Borough Market in 2016, Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda opened a second Padella in Shoreditch last year. Lengthy sheets of pasta are stuffed and twisted each morning ready to be turned into Padella classics, including pici cacio e pepe; pappardelle with eight-hour beef shin ragu; and fettuccine with cured nduja, mascarpone and lemon. Finally, there’s the excellent Manteca, which recently received a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. Main courses include tonnarelli with brown crab cacio e pepe; rigatoni with kale sauce, chilli and parmigiano; and lasagne served with roasted porchetta and salsa verde.
On Shoreditch High Street, Bao Noodle Shop takes its lead from those found in Taiwan. Begin with a choice of three fresh takes on the team’s cult buns (panko shrimp croquette with sweet and sour sauce; Iberico pork with garlic mayo, black garlic sauce and shredded cabbage; and sweetcorn congee with spring onion tofu sauce and soy pickled chilli) before trying a bowlful of beef noodle soup made with aged beef bones, fermented chilli bean paste and assorted spices. Guests then have the option of adding cured egg, crispy egg, or spiced beef butter to their bowls.
Richard Corrigan opened his third London restaurant – Daffodil Mulligan – just off Old Street, where a frequently changing menu relies on produce from Corrigan’s Virginia Park Lodge estate in Ireland (think baked back of sole with Jerusalem artichoke, ceps and hazelnuts). A concise cocktail menu offers twisted classics served in the basement saloon bar, which features an eight-seat oyster bar and crustacean display ,and hosts a series of fun live music nights. For more excellent but low-key cocktails, make a reservation at The Umbrella Project, which is run by the team behind famed east London bars The Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Company. You’ll find it in a scarcely touched 19th-century atelier on a cobbled street. The 12-capacity micro venue is a testing ground for cutting-edge cocktails that may or may not go forward to be served at its bigger sister bars, and always throws up memorable drinks.
Where To Stay...
Last year, the property that was once the Curtain Hotel was taken over by luxe hotel group Mondrian. After a full refurb, Mondrian Shoreditch features 120 refreshed bedrooms, each redesigned with contemporary interiors and east London-inspired touches. Thankfully the rooftop pool – complete with lido restaurant Laurel’s on the Roof – remains. Downstairs, you’ll find Dani García’s first restaurant in the UK, Bibo, which spans an open-kitchen tapas bar and dining room serving the likes of pulled oxtail brioche with thin mushroom slices and rocket; and Russian salad with tuna belly, fried quail eggs and garlic chips. Another newcomer is One Hundred Shoreditch, which opened in the modernist building previously occupied by Ace Hotel. The in-house Wine Bar has partnered with much-loved local store Passione Vino on guest wines by the bottle and glass, while further places to drink and dine include Goddard and Gibbs, which focuses on British seafood, and a Palm Springs-inspired rooftop.
Also fresh from a refurb is The Boundary on Redchurch Street, a boutique hotel housed in a converted Victorian warehouse, with 17 individually designed bedrooms, three restaurants and two bars. New for summer is its ground-floor restaurant, which serves modern British fare with a European influence, such as Devon diver scallops in anchovy and parsley butter; and wild garlic and nettle risotto. Head to the hotel’s rooftop terrace, which comes to life in the evenings with blankets, log burners and fairy lights, before relaxing in one of the spacious bedrooms, each of which represents an iconic designer or movement, from Young British Designers to the Bauhaus. Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch has also just reopened after an almost two-year hiatus. The relaunch coincides with an expansion, introducing a new sixth floor and the Nobu Shoreditch Penthouse, complete with a spacious private outdoor terrace, plus two new bedroom types, Yuhi and Yuhi Skyline, which offer more of a Japanese nod to the design, with warm wood tones and brushed gold accents.
For something a little different, look to five-star Batty Langley’s. Each characterful bedroom is furnished with antiques and service errs on the side of old-fashioned hospitality. It’s so unique, it’s often used for fashion photo shoots and filming. Around the corner is South Place Hotel. If you’re staying here, make sure to book into Michelin-starred seafood restaurant Angler, where pre-dinner G&Ts are a must (a retractable roof and blankets make an appearance if the weather turns). In the very centre of the hotel, you’ll find its secret courtyard. The surprise oasis is filled with waterfalls and palm trees, and specialises in champagne, cocktails and cigars.
In Bethnal Green, the award-winning Town Hall Hotel mixes modern design with art deco and period details. Individually designed rooms come with sheepskin rugs and one-off pieces of vintage furniture. It’s one of the few hotels in London that allows dogs – ideal if you want to bring your four-legged friend along – and there’s also a resident greyhound. Elsewhere, the hotel has a beautiful pool (which looks like something you’d find in an Italian palace) and a gym, while Corner Room is the place to head for breakfast and Sunday brunch.
Where To Get A Culture Hit…
With more than 2,000 species of exotic plants and trees, the Barbican Conservatory is a great way to spend an afternoon. As well as tree ferns, date palms, and banana and ginger plants, there’s a large collection of succulents and spiky cacti to see. Don’t miss the koi carp and terrapins in the ponds. You can also stop by the Barbican Centre below to see an exhibition, many of which are free to view.
Between the beautiful Japanese temple and the swan-filled lake, Victoria Park is one of the best places for a walk, cycle or picnic. It becomes even better on a Sunday when the Victoria Park Market arrives, full of stalls from some of London’s best food producers and makers. Highlights include Happy Ending’s negroni ice-cream sandwiches or Popina’s vegan Moroccan rolls alongside on-tap ginger kombucha to keep you cool in the sunshine. If picnics aren’t for you, take a seat at the Pavilion Café for a flat white overlooking the boating lake.
If the boating lake has got you in the mood for a quick dip, look to London Fields Lido – a 50m heated outdoor swimming pool that’s open all year. The pool offers all-day lane swimming, lessons for children and adults, and one-to-one swimming tuition. There’s a café, plus a large sundeck and sunbathing area that expands during the summer months.
Where To Shop…
When it comes to shopping for clothes and accessories there’s one particular road fashion fans should head to – Redchurch Street. Here you’ll find Folk, Toast, Reformation, Sunspel, APC, Nudie Jeans and Free People. It’s also home to Labour & Wait, one of our favourite utility and kitchen stores, and Earl of East, which stocks everything from its own candles and scents to Hay chopping boards and DS & Durga candles. Got someone difficult to buy for? This is the place to visit.
Curtain Road and Shoreditch High Street are also excellent for an afternoon of shopping. There’s Goodhood, which sells everything from Tekla towels, ceramics and lighting to clothing and accessories by Ganni, LF Markey, Margaret Howell, Comme des Garcons and YMC. Then there’s Aida, which stocks brands such as Finlay & Co, Nat & Noor, Selected Femme and Veja. Perhaps best of all is SCP, two floors dedicated to big-ticket home pieces, such as modernist sofas, beds and dining sets. Even if it’s out of your budget, the showroom is well worth a look around for interiors ideas and inspiration.
Elsewhere, Luna & Curious sells excellent curios, childrenswear and gifts; the original House of Hackney store can be found inside a former church off Great Eastern Street; and Browns East is every bit as good as the Mayfair original, but a little edgier. And finally, when it comes to food and drinks, plant-based cheesemonger La Fauxmagerie is a vegan’s dream, Pophams on Redchurch has all your pastry needs covered, and Brick Lane is still the best place to bag a bagel after a night out.