Old Spitalfields Market Food Tour
FOOD TOUR, OLD SPITALFIELDS MARKET: LONDON
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT:
- For the impressive range of restaurants, takeaways and street food
- To shop at the eclectic mix of stalls and stores
- It's only a short walk from Liverpool Street station
- Take in the buzz of the atmosphere around the market
Old Spitalfields Market is the perfect place to visit for incredible food, classic cocktails and quirky shopping. Located in a Victorian market hall, just five minutes from London's Liverpool Street, you’ll find an eclectic mix of unique stalls and trendy stores alongside an impressive array of restaurants, takeaways and street food vendors.
I was invited on a tour of the market, along with a few other writers and bloggers, to get a taste of the variety of food on offer and to meet the chefs and restauranteurs dedicated to serving up delicious dishes to the hundreds of people who visit the market every day.
Wright Brothers Spitalfields
We began our tour at Wright Brothers; a super-stylish oyster and seafood restaurant nestled away in the corner of the square. Sitting at the stunning marble bar, we watched the chefs prepare their signature delicacies with three types of oysters.
I hadn’t realised, but the taste of oysters depends on how far away they live from the seashore, and the further out they are, the saltier they taste. Those harvested closer in land have a more earthy flavour and we were lucky enough to try both so we could compare. Starting with the Jersey Rock Oyster and then the French Gillardeau Special, there was a subtle difference but they were both delicious.
Lastly, we tried a Smoked Calingford Oyster on a light Biscuit with Horseradish Cream and Pickled Cucumber. We were advised to eat it all in one and I needed no encouragement to get stuck in. I loved the smokiness and was surprised to find its heavy flavour and texture really reminded me of mackerel.
Having finished our champagne, we headed back out into the square. However, I could’ve happily stayed all afternoon in those wonderfully elegant surroundings.
Next up, we met Italian chefs Federico and Francesco, also known as Tre Rote (which is Neapolitan slang for ‘three wheels’), in their funky vintage-style mobile kitchen. These old friends, who both grew up in Italy, are passionate about their food and dedicated to producing authentic pasta with the most fresh and seasonal ingredients.
We watched as they prepared their most popular dish; Rome Carbonara with Parmesan, Romano cheese and Italian pancetta. Everything is freshly cooked in front of the customer and nothing is ever microwaved.
The chefs told us they import as many ingredients as they can from Italy, including a durum wheat pasta, extra virgin olive oil and even tinned tomatoes. And, you won’t find any cream in their carbonara. If it’s not in the traditional Italian recipe, it’s strictly not included!
I knew it was risky eating a whole portion of pasta at the beginning of food tour, but it was too hard to resist. The chunky pasta shapes were softly cooked and covered in a delicious, fresh cheese sauce with just enough pancetta so the dish wasn’t too salty. A thumbs up!
Soon after, I found myself sitting outside the Café Caribbean restaurant chatting to its lovely founder, Wayne Richards. A former boxer, Wayne was forced to give up his sporting career after an eye injury and taught himself to cook. He was inspired by the dishes his Mum learnt to prepare in her homeland of St Catherine, Jamaica, but over time has perfected his own unique recipes.
As our group tucked into a delicious array of Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat, Stewed Beef and Oxtail, he told us how he makes traditional Jamaican food which represents his family and how everything is prepared and cooked fresh on the premises each day, just as his Mum and her Mum before her would have made it at home.
I love Caribbean food and I wasn’t disappointed. The meat was so succulent it fell of the bone and, as you can see from the picture, the restaurant doesn’t hold back on the sauces either. Wayne’s jerk sauce has proved so popular, he’s starting to sell it by the bottle. If you stop by with a friend, I’d recommend buying different dishes and sharing them as there is so much to enjoy. It’s also fun sitting on the picnic tables outside this prime location and watching the hustle and bustle of the market go by.
And then it was time for Blixen, which is a glamorous European-style café located on the edge of the market square. I loved this place as soon as I walked in as the décor is incredible and everywhere you look there’s something to enjoy. All of the seating and dining areas are completely unique, with mismatched furniture and beautiful accessories, and it’s hard to believe this wonderfully creative space used to be a boring, old bank.
We sat in the conservatory, a beautiful bright space decorated with plants, watering cans and other garden accessories. Even though you can see the market traders through the glass, they still feel a world away. This is the place to come if you want to escape the buzz outside.
Sitting in such elegant surroundings, it was only right we ordered cocktails straightway. I had the St Hugo Spiritz, a refreshing mix of St Germaine, Prosecco, Mint and Lime, that went down far too easily on a hot July afternoon!
Blixen treated to us samples of their most popular dishes. Our starter was Squid, Chorizo and Chickpea Stew in Saffron Aioli, which was a hearty mix of rich, smoky flavours. But, my favourite was the Haddock (freshly smoked in-house) with a Poached Egg, Spinach, Crushed Potatoes, Puffed Rice and Curried Hollandaise. It’s amazing how something so light and fluffy can be packed with so much flavour. Thankfully, I’d just about managed to save space for the trio of desserts – a heavenly Mint Fudge with a hint of Tarragon, a moist Blueberry Sponge and a sugar-coated Fruit Cake. Everything really did taste incredible.
Lastly, we headed to Bleecker Burger – but thankfully, not for any more food! Here, we rounded off the tour with a Strawberry Milkshake. I’ve got to confess, I couldn’t finish mine, but from what I did taste it was delicious. Creamy, not too sweet and incredibly cold.
I enjoyed a great afternoon and it really opened my eyes to the wide range of foods on offer at Old Spitalfields Market. This is not just a shopping destination but a must-visit places for foodies too.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of Old Spitalfields Market.