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If you’re looking for London’s best food and drink, head for the railways. In recent years, many of the capital’s most interesting places to eat have opened in archways under the city’s numerous train lines.
Where did this foodie frenzy come from?
As the central districts filled up with chain restaurants, independent operators were forced to find new homes. Until recently, the arches were the preserve of car-repair companies and abandoned lots, but the spiralling rents in the West End made these stranger venues increasingly appealing. In 2009, The Kernel, now one of London’s most well-respected breweries, opened in a south London arch. Since then, bakeries and breweries have flocked to railway arches, transforming them into increasingly popular places to eat and drink.
A large variety of boutique food and drink businesses are flourishing in Bermondsey, Hoxton and London Fields—all short train rides from Hotel Indigo London – Tower Hill. Here are some of the best:
Explore where the foodie frenzy go to satisfy their hunger!
Fabrique Bakery (Arch 385, Geffrye St) This Swedish bakery is the perfect spot to get your day started—try a Flat White (£2.75) with a rich, buttery croissant (£2.50). It’s a laid-back place, with bags of flour stacked along the walls and tables set out front on the cobbled street (in good weather). There are plenty of Scandinavian products to try, including Rye and Cranberry bread and a variety of Swedish fruit drinks. Down the road—in another archway—is Beagle, a highly-rated restaurant specialising in modern British cuisine.
Il Cudega (Arch 358, Westgate St) The food of Lombardy is celebrated at this delicatessen and daytime restaurant in London Fields. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach: the deli counter at the back is laden with charcuterie and cheese, a huge variety of Italian wine sits to the left, and there’s a beautiful Faema espresso machine next to an oversized Subbuteo England footballer on the bar. Simple hot comfort foods like risotto and spaghetti ragu are always a good bet, but the charcuterie plate featuring smoky, rich Speck cured ham and creamy, rustic Gorgonzola is a staple (£12.50).
Wash down the baked goods with some of London’s best beers!
Photo: @karmenlouisetse & Dianne Tanner
Mother Kelly’s (251 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green) London’s best beer is normally found in pubs, not bars, which makes Mother Kelly’s a real treat. In some ways it doesn’t feel like London at all with the mural of a New York taxi on one side and the bank of bottle-filled fridges on the other. Food is limited, but you can expect to find 19 taps full of the best beer from London and further afield, from specialty breweries including Beavertown, The Kernel, and Magic Rock.
Monty’s Deli (76 Druid Street, Bermondsey) You need commitment to try one of the best sandwiches in London. Monty’s Deli is only open on Saturday and Sunday, so there’s always a queue. It’s just a 15-minute walk from Tower Hill, and well worth it. The Reuben Special (£10) is a huge double-fistful of a sandwich filled with salt beef, pastrami, melted cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and mustard. The bagels, salt beef, and even the mustard are made in-house—satisfaction guaranteed.Photo: @megcpie & @sanchialuke
40 Maltby Street Natural wine, made without chemical fertilisers or pesticides, is becoming increasingly easy to find in London. But, few serve it better than this little place at the entrance to Maltby Street Market. Their wine is available to enjoy on-site or takeaway, and there’s a menu boasting good things from all across Europe: pigeon pie (£8), fried sardines with caponata (£7.50), and grilled pork loin with apple, fennel and mustard (£14) were on a recent menu.
Railway arch venues truly capture the spirit of the neighbourhoods that they call home. These districts are full of foodies who are priced out of central and west London neighbourhoods. They provide a ready audience for high-quality, reasonably-priced food. Likewise, the innovative use of the formerly overlooked spaces has rejuvenated these iconic London landscapes.