Out and About in East London

We started our little tour of East London at Broadway Market in Hackney, East London, which had been recommended to us by friends many times, but somehow we had never managed to make it there. The walk towards the Market from Haggerston tube station (orange London Overground line network) is already very pleasant, along Regent’s Canal, where lots of people were enjoying the sun, especially around the lock.

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The market fills up a whole eponymous street that goes all the way from the Canal to the London Fields that has a lot of great shops and restaurants lined up, even when there’s no market, including Climpson’s Arch, where, unfortunately this time we only found time for some of their great coffees (at Climpson & Sons Coffee Roastery & Coffee Bar, to be precise, which is directly in Broadway Market, whereas Climpson’s Arch is a couple of minutes’ walk towards the north east along London Fields to Helmsley Place), but where we’ll aim to have a bite at the restaurant some time soon, too, having heard very good things about it. Another great shop is Fin & Flounder, a tiny fishmonger’s store where the queue was so long we just peeked into the shop from the window to check out the beautiful seafood spread out there on boxes of ice. From Fin & Flounder’s market stall (not the store), we got a very tasty portion of lobster meat in a bun (at £12 ok for the amount of top quality meat, even though not exactly dirt cheap). We tried several other food stalls and also snacked on sweets and it was a very good experience.

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Broadway Market is a nice mix of raw ingredients such as vegetables and meat, some processed food stuff like sausages and cheese, preserves, olives, lots of ready-to-eat food-stalls, smoothies, juices, and some clothes and nick-nack. Don’t miss the Schoolyard Market which is just opposite London Fields on the same side, slightly to the right of Broadway Market. Not quite as nice as Broadway Market, and tiny in comparison, but they do have a few further really nice stalls.

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From Broadway Market we walked along Regent’s Canal towards Cambridge Heath Road and explored the area all the way down to Bethnal Green station. A couple of galleries we had wanted to visit were either closed for good or for the day.

We then made the mistake of choosing Old Bethnal Green Road, which, at least on that afternoon, didn’t feel particularly welcoming (very safe compared with Edmonton, just not necessarily compared with central London), with more than one really run down multi-storey council estate building and no other signs of life except for four or five cars passing by us during the ten minute walk. We decided for ourselves that next time we’ll walk along the Canal, like we did on our way from the Market to Cambridge Heath Road. Not that much of a detour and such a pleasant walk.

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We always enjoy the atmosphere around Hoxton Square, especially now, that the grip of the hipsters on the area has loosened, so checked out a few of the lovely places around there, then walked from there to Dinerama, a two storey complex with a large number of excellent street food shops. The beef ribs at Smoke Stak were so soft they literally melted in your mouth, and so juicy and tasty, it was a near-spiritual experience. We’ll definitely be back some time soon.

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As if we’d not have had enough food for the day, we went from there back towards Old Street/Hoxton Square area and had (another) dinner at On The Bab, a lovely and very reasonably priced Korean street food restaurant. It had started to rain, so it wasn’t brilliant to have to queue for twenty minutes in the rain, but it was worth the wait, and it’s always a good sign if the majority of the guests in an ethnic restaurant are from the same ethnic group, as they were in this instance. After a delicious dinner of fried spicy chicken, rice dumplings, and traditional seafood tofu soup we decided that we were not going to eat anything for a day or so, unless we should come across something really tasty-looking.

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