Androuet, located in Spitalfields Market, showcases fine British, Italian, French and other cheeses, with a likeable joie de vivre. Alongside the shop and its stunning cheese and fine-wine displays, the restaurant/wine bar combines a laid-back terrace on Spitalfields Market and a smaller interior, with a little belle époque grandeur provided by a glittering chandelier, where you can enjoy superb comfort food. Make sure you try the impressive Androuet cheeseburger, or your own cheese-and-charcuterie board. The wine list is almost as impressive as the cheese and is very decently priced.
Seafood is definitely the name of the game at this family-run outfit, which has been pleasing Borough market-goers and tourists who drop by for many years now. Comprising a fishmonger’s and café under one roof, it’s a dead cert for foodies and tourists looking for something fresh off the slab or cooked to order in a colourful setting of tiled walls and orange banquettes squeezed close together; you can also sit at one of the kerbside tables under the canopy and watch the world go by. The menu changes each day, depending on the catch – oysters, prawns, tuna, sea bass… – and dishes are accompanied by vegetables from the market where appropriate.
Brawn is a restaurant/wine bar located on Columbia Road. The decor, with whitewashed walls is unfussy. Metal pipes, gantries and dangling lamps, together with eclectic artwork, rustic tables and a bijou bar would appeal to East London hipsters. Much care is taken over provenance on the plate and in the glass, with natural wine taking up a large section of the drinks menu. Brawn specialises in all things porcine and a great selection of offal. Expect charcutterie platters, terrines, rillettes, dry-cured salami, as well as veal brain, duck hearts and all kinds of liver. Plates come in small portions which gives you a great opportunity for sharing.
The unfussy decor of the restaurant and downstairs bar at Mr Buckley’s in Shoreditch is reminiscence of a student union, with its low lighting and plywood furniture. The menu of hearty brunches and European-influenced small plates however, is worlds apart from the utilitarian feel of the place. The trend for tarted-up comfort food is acknowledged with an offering of lobster mac and cheese while many other dishes offer both flavour and textures from another world. The drinks and desserts are just as creative: bookend your meal with a bacon-accented Bloody Madison cocktail and a slice of cardamom chocolate cake and you’ll be verging on sensory overload from the creations of one of Hackney’s best new restaurants.
Functional urban design with exposed brick and bench seating sets the tone at Simply Fish in Camden Town, a newly opened fish restaurant with a different eating concept: The task is to choose a fish, cooking method, sauce and accompaniment from a wide range of each on offer; hundreds of permutations are possible, though not all are advisable. Specials come in the more traditional pre-conceived format – you order a dish, they bring it – and a handful of small plates and platter options complete the menu. The kitchen aims for variety as well as wide-ranging international flavours.