Visit London Blog » brick lane Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Six Things We Learned on the Eating London Food Tour Tue, 06 May 2014 08:22:22 +0000 Bread & butter pudding at The English Restaurant

East London has long attracted people from all over the world: silk-weaving Huguenots, persecuted Jews, Bangladeshi chefs… who have all made their fortunes on its cobbled streets – alongside the native Cockneys born and bred here. So where better to hold a heritage food tour?

The Eating London food tour lasts about 3.5 hours and is packed full of fascinating facts about Brick Lane and Spitalfields, hidden gems and visits to everywhere from a traditional English boozer to a Brick Lane curryhouse. Visit London went along to sample it for ourselves – and left with brain and belly delightfully full. Here are just five things we learned on the way…

1. St John does an amazing bacon sandwich

St John Bread & Wine knows a thing or two about meat – its founder is the pioneer of the ‘nose to tail’ food revolution after all. So it should be no surprise that its bacon sandwich is a real treat, and a great way to kick off the tour. Made using Gloucester Old Spot rashers, for once the delicious smoky bacon is the main event, not something to be smothered in ketchup!

2. How to spot a real bagel

While tucking into hot salt beef bagels at the Brick Lane Bagel Bar – juicy meat falling away, pickles sliding, mouths drooling – we learned how bagels are made the proper way. Unlike supermarket bagels which are steamed, real bagels are boiled before being baked. You can tell it’s not the real deal if it has the telltale grate marks on the underside.

Cheese tasting at Androuet

3. You can get a cheese wedding cake at Androuet

French cheese shop and restaurant Androuet served up some delicious English cheeses for us to try, expertly paired with dried fruits and nuts. Our attention was also caught by the photos of giant cheese wedding cakes they supply for more savoury-toothed couples. Brie-lliant!

4. It pays to look up

Our Eating London guides constantly surprised us by pointing out street art, strange buildings or quirky signs we’d missed – despite having walked around the area countless times in the past. Many times a whole new world opened up just by looking above eye level.

5. You can still buy fish & chips served in newspaper

In the 1980s, the powers that be decided serving fish & chips in newspaper was unsafe as the ink could seep into the food. Poppies in Spitalfields has ingeniously got around this law by printing their newspaper with edible ink! It’s also just been voted Best Independent Fish and Chips Restaurant in the UK at the National Fish and Chip Awards – an award well earned, after tasting their wonderfully light cod, chunky chips and piping hot mushy peas. Well worth a look.

6. There’s always room for dessert

Filled with tasty drinks and snacks from some of East London’s finest restaurants, the tour ended at Pizza East with a slice of salted caramel chocolate tart. Sprinkled with almonds and sea salt, no-one could resist scoffing down the entire slice (despite all that had come before) accompanied by a cuppa and chatter. Well, we had been walking after all – it was well earned.

Eating London’s East End Food Tour takes place Monday to Saturday at 10am. Adults £59. To book, visit

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48 Hour Gay Guide to East London Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:16 +0000 A guest blog post by Adam Groffman, author of travel blog Travels of Adam

London’s East End is one of the capital’s coolest neighborhoods. A longtime working class area, East London is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. And while London’s gay scene is traditionally in Soho, most hipsters have moved further afield to Shoreditch and Hackney. Here’s our guide to a fun weekend in East London, including gay nightlife and tourist attractions:



Stay at The Boundary Hotel
A former Victorian warehouse, Shoreditch’s Boundary Hotel is a great place to stay if you’re visiting on a romantic weekend as it has a rooftop restaurant and bar, as well as a boutique style which make the place seem homely yet elegant. Rooms from £200 per night.

A Taste of the East
Rather than splurging on a meal at the rooftop bar in the hotel, visit the popular Indian restaurant across the street Dishoom. The garden and laid-back style make it a great place to chill out before heading out for the night.


Cocktails at Loungelover
For a Friday night nightcap, take a short stroll to the trendy Loungelover bar, which has won countless awards for its menu as well as its design. Every room is luxuriously decorated.

Shoreditch grafitti


Enjoy a food tour
To get a taste of East London, skip breakfast at the hotel and instead make your way to Spitalfields Market. There, at 10am, the East End Food Tour begins. At £59, the walking food tour includes enough food to cover both breakfast and lunch taking in some of East London’s best eateries. It also covers Brick Lane and a bit of history about Jack the Ripper. On a budget? Free Tours by Foot offer pay-what-you-like food and history tours of the East End.

Vintage shopping at Broadway Market
Broadway Market takes place at the foot of London Fields park every Saturday. It’s basically a food market, though some of the shops along the street include bookstores and vintage shops. If you want to visit an authentic London pub, enjoy a pint at The Cat & Mutton.

Dining out in Shoreditch
After a long day of walking through East London, a relaxed dinner near Shoreditch High Street is in order. Keep an eye out for one of the food trucks to grab a light snack. Across the street from Shoreditch Box Park on the High Street is a canopied food hall (inside you’ll want to try Tulum Tacos or Yalla Yalla). Across the street is the trendy Hoi Polloi restaurant inside ACE Hotel. They’ve got a selection of small food plates and great cocktails to go with them.

Gay clubs in East London
For a proper night out, there are a few great options for gay clubs in East London. Dalston Superstore is a classic. Check their website for a calendar of events. East Bloc  is where all the indie boys and girls go — so you’ll be sure to get some good music and fun nights there. But if you’re after a more British setting, go to the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Street for a sample of the Shoreditch hipster scene.

Columbia Road


Brick Lane and Columbia Road Markets
Sunday is arguably the best day to be hanging out in East London. With the Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney and the massive Brick Lane market, there are more than enough things to do and see. Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from street food to vintage clothing.


Art gallery in a restaurant basement
To top off the weekend, make your way to the trendy Tramshed Restaurant on Rivington Street. In the basement is a small gallery space featuring a wide range of artists — not just established ones, but local up-and-coming ones as well.

TRAVELS OF ADAM focuses on the most hip and cool things to do around the world. Follow Adam on Instagram and Pinterest to discover his latest cool travel finds.

]]> 0 Guest Editor: Twiggy Tue, 28 Jan 2014 10:52:33 +0000

We asked Twiggy, the world’s first supermodel and a born and bred Londoner, to share her London Story. Watch the video above.

During our interview Twiggy  mentioned more of her favourite London experiences and  we’ve used this to populate our homepage from 28 to 30 January.

Here’s Twiggy’s top five London experiences:

24 Hours in London? Visit South Bank

“Start at Waterloo Bridge, walk along the South Bank, because you get all the views of the other side of London which is the lovely old part. Then you can walk past The National Theatre and all the little cafes and most weekends there are street fairs and it is brilliant. Then you go along to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and before the Globe is Tate Modern and the OXO Tower, there are so many things to do. Then cross over the Millennium walking bridge and you’ve got that view of St Paul’s. I’ve done filming of London for America and we always do a shot on the Millennium Bridge because of the view of St Paul’s Cathedral. You’ve got to visit St Paul’s and then in the evening go to the theatre and a restaurant – we’ve got some of the best restaurants in the world.”

Royal Albert Hall

“I have lots of very fond memories of lots of wonderful places in London. One has to be the Royal Albert Hall because (you won’t believe this) but I played it one night. I did a concert tour in the 70s and the Royal Albert Hall was one of the dates, and that was scary! To walk out on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall is quite awe inspiring and I live very near there so every time I walk past, the memories are extraordinary, I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.”

Shopping: Established areas and emerging talent

“What girl doesn’t love shopping and London is the best. We’ve always been the best in fashion, I think. You’ve got everything here, whatever your budget is and we’ve got amazing shopping streets; Bond Street, Regent Street, Knightsbridge. I go walking to Kensington, Chelsea and the little shops. Then you’ve got all the new shops in Brick Lane, Shoreditch, all the lovely markets, it’s brilliant.

I think London is a brilliant place for giving new, young talent a chance. I think that is how the Brick Lane, Shoreditch area grew up, really. Young designers and artists moved there and that has grown up out of that world. It’s still the lovely old part of London which is the bit I love, all the Georgian and Victorian houses and streets.”

The V&A

“The Victoria & Albert Museum in Knightsbridge is probably my favourite museum because it really is extraordinary and for me, because of my designing and my love of clothes, this museum has got everything. One of my memories is of the Indian Jewellery room. I remember coming in 25 years ago and there was a pale pink rock and it was an uncut ruby and I’ve never forgotten it.

You can come into this museum and lose yourself for hours and [it’s great] if you want to do research on fashion and clothes. I’ve worked with great designers in the past and they’ve made clothes for me that have been shown here. The V&A does wonderful special exhibitions and the Museum itself is free to everyone – what more could you ask for?

The House Of Leonard, Mayfair

Twiggy got her big break in modelling in the mid 60s at the age of 14: “Somebody saw me who worked on a magazine and they sent me to have my hair done at a very posh salon in Mayfair, The House of Leonard. Leonard cut my hair in that very short, boyish cut and said he wanted to photograph the haircut. He got Barry Lategan to photograph me. He hung the picture in his salon. I went back to school and that’s all it should have been. A journalist who was also a customer in the salon, saw the picture and said, ‘who is the girl?’ and Leonard said, ‘it’s a young schoolgirl, her nickname is Twiggy’. She said ‘I want to meet her’ and two weeks later she wrote a huge article about me naming me the Face of ’66. That was the day my life changed forever.”

The House of Leonard was in Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, W1, next door to which you’ll find the Moroccan Embassy today. Although the salon itself is long gone, you can still walk around the area and see where the magic happened.

You’ll discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at #TheLondonStory

What are your recommendations for visitors to London?

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Things to Do in London This Weekend: 1-2 February Mon, 27 Jan 2014 10:00:26 +0000

China and America descend upon the capital this weekend for a pair of blockbuster international events, from welcoming in

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the Year of the Horse to celebrating a touchdown during Superbowl XLVIII.

Chinese New Year canters in to town

London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia as hundreds of thousands of people converge upon London’s West End. Whereas The Year of the Horse actually falls on 31 January, the festivities take in the capital on Sunday 2 February. Be sure to catch the parade as it snakes along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue from around 10am before sampling some of the eclectic performances around Trafalgar Square and of course finishing with a Chinese meal somewhere around Chinatown. 2 Feb

Superbowl Sunday

American football continues to grow in popularity in the UK, with three regular season games coming later this year. The Superbowl is more than just a load of huge Americans running in to each other though. It is a spectacle from beginning to end, with live music, flyovers, fireworks and those all-important adverts. Get into the spirit by indulging in American food and drink and try and pick up what’s going on in the game itself. Not sure where to catch all the action though? We’ve done that for you. 2 Feb kick-off at 11.35pm.

A celebration of Nordic Noir

From China to America, via Scandinavia? The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane is hosting the Nordicana festival of Nordic fiction and film. Expect screenings, Q&A sessions and special guest appearances from the likes of Borgen, The Bridge, Wallander, The Killing and many more. There will also be a Nordic Marketplace showcasing design, furnishings and Nordic treats in the food hall. 1-2 Feb

Oh What a Lovely War

Coinciding with the centenary of World War One, this revival of the wartime classic musical Oh What a Lovely War couldn’t be timelier. Starring Caroline Quentin, this satirical take on the Great War maintains an anti-war tone that will resonate with modern audiences. Opens 1 Feb

Spells in the snow

This weekend is your last chance to see Hogwarts blanketed in snow at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. Hogwarts has been turned into a winter wonderland, with a festive edge to the sets and the castle itself sporting a wintry look. Catch it before the attraction returns to normal after Sunday. Ends 2 Feb

More events in London

]]> 0 Guest Editor: Gordon Ramsay Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:45:53 +0000
We asked world-famous, London-based chef, restaurateur and TV personality Gordon Ramsay to share his London Story. Watch the video above.

During our interview Gordon mentioned more of his favourite London things and experiences and we’ve used this to populate our homepage for 16-19 Jan 2014

Experience London the way Gordon does with his five top tips on what to see and do in London.

Albert Bridge

The Grade II-listed Albert Bridge over the River Thames was built in 1873, connecting Chelsea to the north with Battersea to the south. The bridge is sometimes known as “the trembling lady” in reference to the effect caused when large numbers of people walk across it, and indeed there are even signs warning troops to break step when crossing (although since the nearby Chelsea Barracks closed in 2008, the bridge is no longer regularly used by soldiers). An extensive, multi-million pound refurbishment in recent years included the installation of thousands of LED lights that illuminate the bridge at night. As Gordon Ramsay rightfully opines, Albert Bridge: “Looks stunning during the day and at night is picturesque.”

Brick Lane

“Whenever we’re returning from a long journey, the first thing we do is go out for a curry. I’ve been to India but I find curries in Brick Lane better; it’s that good.” This is Gordon Ramsay’s glowing recommendation for the area of London that is famous for its Indian, Bangledeshi and Pakistani curry houses. Stretching from Bethnal Green Road to the north, through Spitalfields and onto Whitechapel High Street in the south, this bustling East London street includes more restaurants than you could ever dream of visiting in one lifetime (including Sheba, the Best UK Curry House in Cobra’s 2013 curry guide). Decision making is often down to which curry house has the most persuasive staff member and best special deals as you saunter along the one-kilometre-stretch of Brick Lane.

Borough Market

Borough Market’s gourmet food market consists of up to 70 stalls and stands that open from Thursday to Saturday. Producers from all over the country bring a range of fresh produce to the market, including fish, meats, vegetables, ciders, cheeses, breads, coffees, cakes and patisseries; while other stalls specialise in produce imported from abroad. The market’s proximity to London’s newest icon The Shard, and the popular tourist area of Southbank, give it “must see” status on any London visitor’s itinerary.

Boris Bikes

The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme – known playfully as Boris Bikes – stretches across Central London from Shepherd’s Bush (and the Westfield London Shopping Mall) in West London, to East India DLR station in East London. The network extends as far south as Oval Cricket Ground and as far north as the Stable Markets in Camden. Since the bikes’ introduction in 2010, more than 24 million journeys have been made, averaging 18 to 28 minutes. Further extensions to the cycling scheme are planned for Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, Kensington & Chelsea, and Wandsworth, which should prove welcome news to Gordon Ramsay, who lives and works in these key areas. Gordon says the scheme, “has transformed London, given it so much more flow. What an exciting thing to do when you’re coming to London for the first time: see this beautiful city on a bike, the wind rushing through your hair.”

Vingt-Quatre, now known as VQ

Vingt-Quatre is French for 24, so as the name suggests, this café-restaurant on the Fulham Road in west London is open 24 hours a day. Gordon Ramsay’s “secret place for an amazing fry up” offers a mixed menu of traditional restaurant food (mainly served before midnight) and dishes that can be ordered at any time of the day or night. Beans on toast at 2am? No problem. Burgers at seven in the morning? But, of course. The food here, in Gordon’s eyes, is “to die for”, and has recently proved popular enough to convince the owners to open a second 24-hour VQ Bloomsbury near Tottenham Court Road Tube station.

You’ll discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at #TheLondonStory

What would you recommend to visitors to London?

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London Video of the Week: East London’s Free Spirit by The New York Times Fri, 21 Jun 2013 15:38:26 +0000

This New York Times video highlights the fashion hub around Brick Lane in East London. Some of the capital’s most fashionable people hang out here, and you’ll find an amazing range of independent and vintage clothes stores where you can perfect the East London look.

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Bangladesh in London: Tower Hamlets, Brick Lane and the Baishakhi Mela Thu, 19 Apr 2012 10:00:56 +0000

Ansar Ahmed Ullah from the Swadhinata Trust and Mariam Sheikh Hakim, a London-bred communications specialist and freelance writer have teamed up to tell us all about Bangladeshi culture in London for our World in London series.

The 2001 National Census recorded that 153, 893 people of Bangladeshi origin reside in London, with approximately 65,500 living in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets has a rich history of welcoming different immigrant populations – from the French Huguenots of the 1700s to the Jewish immigrants of the late 1800s. Now the area is largely occupied by the Bengali Community and is the best place to experience Bangladesh in London.

The very first Bengalis who came to the UK were seamen, and were often ship’s cooks in the early 1900s. Back then Bengal was still part of India, and later, following partition in 1947, the majority of Bengal became East Pakistan.

The success story of the so-called “Indian” is the 10,000-12,000 restaurants in the UK, which are almost all owned and run by Bangladeshis. This started with the setting up of cafes ashore, which spread out from the docks.

By the 1970s, East Pakistan gained independence and sovereignty as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. After the independence of Bangladesh during the 1970s and 1980s, many more Bangladeshi families began settling in East London near Brick Lane as well as central London such as Camden – Drummond Street in particular. This led to an increase of cultural and religious activities in these areas, particularly in food, music, arts, literature, drama and now festivals in East London.

Today, Brick Lane – also known as Banglatown – has been dubbed the “Curry capital” of Europe, boasting more than 50 restaurants on just one street.

Since 1997, the Bangladeshi community in East London have been organising the Baishakhi Mela (Bengali New Year Festival) in Banglatown annually. The celebrations take place in Brick Lane, and adjoining streets, and include live music from two stages, Bengali food and a grand parade by children in costumes. The festival is often held in the second weekend of May and has now become an annual event for all Bangladeshis from the UK as well as Europe. Today the Baishakhi Mela held in London’s East End is the largest open air festival outside Bangladesh and West Bengal and the second biggest in London after Notting Hill Carnival.

At the Altab Ali Park at the very bottom of Brick Lane, there is even a replica version of the famous national Bangladeshi monument, the Shaheed Minar which commemorates Bangladeshi language martyrs.

So, in short if you want to experience Bangladesh in London, head to London’s Banglatown, as it’s the best place to start!

Note: We’ve used the term “Bengali” here to describe the language and culture from the Bengal region now spreading across West Bengal in India and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

Do you have any other top tips for experiencing Bangladeshi culture in London? Let us know in the comments below…

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Sheba: The Queen of Brick Lane Curries Sat, 12 Mar 2011 11:00:11 +0000

Tucked away opposite the Old Truman Brewery in London E1 is Sheba Brick Lane.

On arriving in Brick Lane we were greeted by touts for a host of Indian restaurants all claiming to offer the best meal on the busy East End street. Sheba, however, needs no touts – it has a steady stream of customers literally queuing for the chance to eat at the well-loved establishment.
Founded in 1973, this family-run restaurant excels in delivering delicious, hearty Indian cuisine at a reasonable price. We arrived at 7pm to a full restaurant. Many diners seemed to be regular customers judging by their familiar rapport with the waiters, which we took to be a good sign. The bustling, buzzy atmosphere gave a sense of theatricality to the whole experience.
The extensive menu was rather overwhelming, with specialties from award-winning chef Gulab Miah, Sheba house specials, a huge selection of seafood as well as all the curry house classics. We eventually decided on kebab ke karishma (grilled meats) followed by the lamb lucklow (lamb shank) and special tandoori korai king prawn.

The main dishes were particularly outstanding. We’ll return to Sheba for the lamb lucknow alone, with its rich gravy of cardamon, tomato and saffron. In fact, the food was so good and portions so generous that we were compelled to take home what we couldn’t finish.
Our evening was rounded off perfectly with a stroll back to Liverpool Street station through the charming Spitalfields Market, happy in the knowledge that we would be able to enjoy our Sheba leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sheba is open seven days a week and booking is recommended at the weekend.

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Five Things To Do in London This Weekend Fri, 17 Sep 2010 16:31:42 +0000
  • Navigate through the streets of London at speed in the City of London Orienteering Race. Beginners welcome. 18 Sep 2010
  • Party at Ministry of Sound’s Big Birthday Weekender with Danny Tenaglia or at Feeling Gloomy’s 5th Birthday Gloomfest. 18 Sep 2010
  • Test your fitness level with a military personal fitness assessment at Battersea Millenium Arena. £10 raising money for Help for Heroes. 19 Sep 2010
  • Get your music fix at Turning Point Festival or Brick Lane Music Festival. 17-19 Sep 2010
  • Check out the giant Octopus in Trafalgar Square. Until 23 Sep 2010
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    Volvo Starlite Urban Drive-In on Brick Lane Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:30:22 +0000 The Starlite Urban Drive-In. Photos: Claire Doble Enjoying the cars Rollerskate waitresses offered popcorn and drinks View of the screen from the driver's seat Three levels of fun in The Brickhouse Hula Hoop performer at The Brickhouse

    Last night I went to the launch of London’s first-ever drive-in cinema.

    Located in a large carpark in the Old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane, the Starlite Drive-In consists of about 20 brand new Volvos parked in front of a big screen for your viewing pleasure.

    For the launch, the cars were the stars: we were invited to explore the three types of Volvo provided (a convertible, a sporty 2-door model and a 4×4) – by sitting in the driver’s seat, playing with radio and sun roof controls, and honking the horns (although this was discouraged!). There’s no need to bring your licence though, as all the cars remain stationary and the engines are firmly off. We only saw a short promo film, but tonight and tomorrow cinema-goers will watch Dirty Dancing and Grease.

    Catering and entertainment was provided by The Brickhouse nightclub, which backs on to the carpark. There was a brief speech from Damien Barr – the visionary behind the Starlite Drive-in:

    “We all grew up with the drive-in dream. But it never happened in Britain because we don’t have the space, the weather, or that car culture. I wanted to update the idea and make it work for an urban, eco-conscious audience and this seemed the perfect way to do it.”

    After which, we were treated to 1950s-style performances – retro singers, burlesque and a hula hoop girl.

    I’d love to say long live the drive in but Volvo Sarlite Urban Drive-In is open for two nights only in London, before relocating to other spots around the UK.

    Let’s hope it returns next year!

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