East side love

February 22, 2009 at 8:51 pm 21 comments

brick lane
Brick Lane

Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Leicester Square, predictably, were the first few places I saw when I first came to London. They’re the ultimate tourist destinations, crawling with parka-wearing, flag-waving, camera toting groups from all over the globe. To them, this is London. Not mine.

new cross road
New Cross road in the summer

It might be a huge cliché these days, but I love the East End. Living in the south east London area (the eternally ‘up and coming’ New Cross) during my uni years (and experiencing my fair share of souf-eaz lundun culture… god I miss Goldsmiths) was a big part of that love forming.

beigel bake
People of all ages love Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake

I remember how easy it was to hop on the East London line before it closed, and being able to shuttle to Shoreditch and therefore Brick Lane (for bagels from the Beigel Bake every time, natch) in a jiffy. These days, it’s a huge trek that usually involves at least one train ride, followed by a bus ride.

truman brewery
The iconic Truman Brewery

It’s a place I take every friend or family member to when they visit London. There’s always something new to see, something new to eat, there are always new sounds, new colours.

cherry blossoms
Japanese cherry blossoms from Columbia Road Flower Market

One of my favourite bits is Columbia Road Flower Market in the spring. I adore the little shops and galleries along the edges of the market, the characterful stallholders…look out for the brilliantly camp Cockney guy near the end of the market in colourful rasta colours bemoaning having to sell chichi travellers pink Japanese cherry blossoms! Naturally, I had to have some. He was well pleased when I obliged him and asked for the ‘light red’ flowers instead of embarrassing him by using the term ‘pink’… ;-)

Fried calamari

There’s also ‘that’ fried seafood storefront, selling cups of prawns or calamari for £3/£1.50 respectively. It’s not the greatest fry, but perfect for when you want something to graze on while perusing the market…

Perfect coffee next to the StArt gallery
And next to the StArt gallery is this amazing little coffee stand. Such a cheerful fella, the guy who mans it. They use Arabica beans for the brew… ’twas an excellent cup, with a perfect cashmere-soft foam for my cappuccino. Yum!

outside campania gastronomica
Flowers outside the new Italian café/deli, Campania Gastronomica (didn’t get a chance to try it – too crowded)

All in all, a day spent here is just my cup of tea. Or, should it be, a perfectly brewed cup of coffee?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

Marking the end of Chinese New Year You say tomahto, I say tomayto

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kake  |  February 22, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I’m really looking forward to the East London Line coming back… not least because it’ll make it much easier to visit my sister, who lives pretty much due north of me on the other side of the river!

  • 2. Lizzie  |  February 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I can’t wait till the East London line opens as I’ve just moved to New Cross Road; any New Cross foodie gems to share?

  • 3. Kake  |  February 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Good question… I’m up by the river (basically across the road from Southwark Park), but a friend of mine lives in New Cross; she rates the pub food at the Amersham Arms and the Royal Albert.

    You’re also close to Deptford; check out Cafe East or West Lake for Vietnamese; there are also some other Vietnamese places on Deptford High Street which I haven’t tried yet. Ditto various African places on the High Street and Deptford Broadway. The Duke is a newish gastropub that might be worth checking out. The Dog and Bell is well worth a visit if you like pubs (bar billiards and other pub games, continental beers, loads of frequently-changing real ales, local art on the walls); the food is nothing extraordinary (though it’s competently executed), but overall I rate this as one of the better pubs in London. Dos Tias is adequate if you have a tapas craving, though it’s not worth travelling for. I’ve heard good things about Kaya House at 37 Deptford Broadway but never managed to catch it open yet (evenings only, closed Mon).

    Also in Deptford, there’s W H Wellbeloved the butcher, plus various fish/meat shops on the High Street, and the new deli (Feast Your Eyes) on Tanners Hill (not been there yet though).

    Further up towards my end, the Yellow House Bar does good pizza and great brunch, Simplicity is a dependable local restaurant, and the Old Justice does proper Korean barbecue (though avoid the pub part, it’s a bit nasty).

  • 4. Helen  |  February 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Yep, the East London line was a gift, can’t wait till they finish it again! I love the East too, SE dweller myself, unfortunately Brick Lane Beigel Bake is a bit of a trek for me too. Well worth it though!

  • 5. Kake  |  February 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Lizzie — I wrote a big long comment about the good things I know in the area, but I think it got eaten by the spamtrapper because it had links in it! Drop me a mail at kake@earth.li if you’d like me to send it on — luckily, I kept a copy.

  • 6. Charmaine  |  February 26, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Kake – I found your comment! WordPress doesn’t like more than two links… haha. Great suggestions there. The Amersham Arms were def part of the Goldsmiths culture…and yes yes yes to Café East (though I think they’ve moved).

    Lizzie – You have my suggestions from Twitter, and in my uni days we all loved Nouveau Spice on New Cross Road. Loads also rated Thailand on the same stretch, though I personally have never been there (and it is student opinion, afterall ;-D). I also used to frequent Cafe Crema near the uni, but not sure if it’s there anymore… the food can be missed, but I did like the vibe and the hot chocolate.

    And of course all the lovely shops that are now in the Brockley area! Hmm and I think there’s a monthly farmers’ market held at Telegraph Hill. The one and only time I went there it was pretty decent. I think it’s by City and Country Farmers’ Markets (same people who do Ally Pally, Oval, etc).

    Helen – I get at least a dozen bagels every time I find myself in the area. They freeze well! Oh now I’m just craving them again, with lots of cream cheese and smoked salmon…

  • 7. Krista  |  February 27, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Lovely post! Have you been to Cakehole on Columbia Road yet? I like it in there. (It’s at the back of the vintage glassware shop.)

  • 8. Charmaine  |  February 27, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Krista – Ta! No I haven’t been but was very tempted to go in and have their cream tea last Sunday… it’s just that Sunday on Columbia Road means it’s impossible to get a seat anywhere! My only caveat with the place :-P

  • 9. Kake  |  February 27, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up on Cafe East — I popped down there today to see if I could find any info, and was lucky enough to catch the landlord doing some work on the place. He told me that the original Cafe East ([now?] run by his sister) has moved to the Surrey Quays leisure complex (the part with the cinema) and will be opening in about 2 weeks’ time, still called Cafe East. The Deptford location will be reopening in about 3 weeks’ time, run by his son, and will be called something like Mama Pho (I’m sure about the Pho part, less sure about the Mama part).

    Re Cafe Crema — I’m reluctant now to say that it’s definitely still there! But my New Cross friend has written it up on RGL, and it says there that she last visited at the start of December… so it probably is :)

  • 10. Charmaine  |  February 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Kake – Thanks for that… am going to make a reminder to head down there next month or something. Mama Pho sounds… interesting ;-)

    The demolition of that stretch of New Cross Road’s buildings seems to have been dragging on for a while now… I’m a bit out of the loop now though!

  • 11. Alex  |  March 26, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Nice post, and I really love your pictures btw. You’ ll be officially added to my feedreader! :P
    Regards, Alex

  • 12. neil  |  April 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I still make a detour for those bagels now and again. I think the cheapness of the food + the taste = at least 20-25 mins extra walking time.

  • 13. Kake  |  April 24, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Went to Mama Pho for lunch today — had the bun bo hue and the fresh summer rolls, both good. I wrote it up on RGL, of course.

    Also tried to visit the new Cafe East location earlier this week, but it’s been phenomenally popular and they’d had to close for the day due to running out of food the day before!

    • 14. Charmaine  |  April 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm

      Awesome, thanks for the update! Looking forward to checking out the new premises :D

  • 15. Ilse aus München  |  April 30, 2009 at 8:58 am

    i just discovered your blog – and I LOVE it! beautiful fotos, too.

  • 16. isibella  |  May 4, 2009 at 6:45 am

    “Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and Leicester Square, predictably, were the first few places I saw when I first came to London. They’re the ultimate tourist destinations, crawling with parka-wearing, flag-waving, camera toting groups from all over the globe. To them, this is London. Not mine.”

    I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE THAT QUOTE. my heart is crying. bahhhhhhhhh.

  • 17. Kang  |  May 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Just re-reading this post again after so long, you need to write another one of these so cool :)

    Oh and I finally visited Brick lane and Beigel Bake too, yummy saltbeef…. ahh! check my flicker account I have a shot of the truman chimney too, but your lumo-effect photo looks cooler than mine i think.

  • 18. charlie nelson  |  May 12, 2009 at 10:20 am

    What camera? great photos!!

  • 19. Lil  |  May 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    This is such a lovely post! I live in South-west London and I keep meaning to take the leap to the otherside. Thanks for recommending some spots!

  • 20. catty  |  June 18, 2009 at 10:02 am

    hi! managed to just check out your blog for the first time. LOVE the pics… why no recent blogs??

  • 21. expresso  |  October 8, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Just love your blog!

    Such a fun to read and look at.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


A freelance journalist and full-time gourmand, eating her way mostly through London and Hong Kong.

Current location: London


Charmaine currently digs: the smell of coffee; adding ponzu to everything; bill granger; still eating natto with every meal; caressing her Nikon FM2n.



February 2009
« Jan   Jul »

my flickr photos

%d bloggers like this: