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Oct 24, 2008 11:56 AM

[London] Tower Hill/Aldgate East area?

So what's the food situation in the area around Tower Hill and Aldgate East? I'm moving over there and am looking for recommendations for restaurants and also places to buy groceries, pubs, etc. Thanks!

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  1. Well, I'll start it off, then. ;)

    I found out that apparently I'm very close to the Waitrose at St. Katherine's Docks. I went in there the other night and wandered around until they finally kicked me out at closing time. It's a full-on suburban-style gourmet grocery! Haven't seen one of those since living in California.

    Yesterday I was at Spitalfields Market and tried a chicken, ham & leek pie from Square Pie. Allowed myself to be upsold on the side of mash and peas, and was underwhelmed by the entire production. It was okay, but overall pretty bland and not very interesting. I was much more impressed by the Swanson 99 cent chicken pot pies.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lina

      Yeah, i must agree that i'm usually underwhelmed by the square pie co.... I found the mash is pretty bland and crappy too.

      You're much better off trying out one of the badboys from:

      Found in various London locations or at one of the more 'boutique' music festivals in the UK such as (although you'll have to wait till next summer for that pleasure)

      1. re: foreignmuck

        I second the Pie Minister recommendation: their Mr. Porky Pie and Heidi Pie are things of beauty. They have a booth at Borough Market (might be on Saturday only - not sure).

        Aldgate East is one of my favourite tube stops, because it brings me to within a ten-minute stroll of Lahore Kebab House, off Commercial Road. Stay with all things meaty and you can't go wrong (grilled lamb chops and sag gosht are two personal favourites).

    2. There's some great (historical) pubs a short walk away in Wapping. The Town of Ramsgate, The Captain Kidd and the Prospect of Whitby. If you google for them, you'll find the addresses, they're all close to each other.

      I'm not massively keen on any of the places to eat around Tower Hill, especially any of the chains in St Katharine's Dock. But a short walk away is Cafe Spice Namaste where I've never eaten but I've heard very good things about. Maybe someone who's eaten there will be able to give their opinion.

      1 Reply
      1. re: spli

        I checked out Cafe Spice Namaste and it was pretty good, but not great. Had a sweet naan which was fantastic.

        Had the murgh maharajah, chicken stuffed with pistachio and a Makhani sauce. Was delicious, but a little bit bland. If I'm going to consume that many calories in one sitting, I want to get to get as much flavor for my buck as possible.

        Also tried the bamboo shoot, enoki mushroom and chickpea xacutti, which had a really appealing/unpleasant flavor. Not sure how to explain it, but sort of tasted like the air of a balloon. Wouldn't recommend it.

        Had the starters for 2 which was really nice. I got the sense that their meats were probably their strong suit so we missed out, and their specials did look interesting.

        I think this place is nice if you need a lunch out with the suits, but the food wasn't great enough to make my regular list. I'm sure I'll end up there again out of laziness, though.

      2. I just moved to this area as well. So far on the recommendation of friends, I had lunch at the Borough food market, just a short walk across London bridge. I had quite good oysters and seafood salad at Fish!, but it looked like there were several good spots and I came home with lots of organic goodies (and foie gras, harder to come by in the states). Dinner at Cafe Spice Namaste, which I noted here got mixed reviews. My meal was lovely, particularly the starters which included very delicate salmon in a refreshing mint sauce. I opted for the chef's choice for 30 pounds, and Chef Cyrus came over to chat and was a delight. Dinner included daal (ho hum), chicken and spinach, lamb vindaloo (nothing here was very spicy), fabulous grilled prawns, mushrooms and peas, and I believe housemade Indian mango ice cream and apricot toffee ice cream. My only complaint was I got the "gringo" treatment when the wait staff described all the dishes to me in terms of their primary ingredients ("this is chicken!") instead of their actual name. Still I would recommend, but I haven't tried Bombay brasserie which this board seems to enjoy. I also heard good things from friends about: Tayyab's Pakistani grill (positive chowhound reviews), Viet Hoa on Kingsland High St., and of all things the Brick Lane Beigal Bakery (yes, like bagels). For groceries I intend to check out Waitrose as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: czovod

          Welcome... there are lots of us here from the 'mother country,' and I lived near NYC for most of my life. Waitrose is a great supermarket, but the prices are high and you may want to also find other places for the ordinary staples of life. I know... it's like being in a candy shop when one first gets here.

          Also try Brindisi's tapas when you get to the Borough Market again. It's a great restaurant for lunch or a snack.

          Good luck!!

        2. When I was looking to move to Tower Hill, I was told about a French restaurant called Rosemary Lane on Royal Mint Street. The reviews seemed pretty favourable, but as I ultimately didn't move there, I've not tried it. The url of the restaurant's

          On the Aldgate East side, Tayyabs, as mentioned by czovod, and Lahore Kebab House (Umberston Street) are also good places.

          As for Brick Lane, I wouldn't necessarily recommend Brick Lane Beigel. It's an institution, yes, but it's really purely because it's convenient (open 24 hours) and cheap (£1.30 last time I went which was a year ago), and not because it's good... especially not if you love bagels, which I do!

          Sweet & Spicy on 40 Brick Lane is probably the best curry house on Brick Lane when it comes to balancing taste and value-for-money. It's a no-frills, non-alcohol serving restaurant and serves delicious food.

          Hope that helps!

          9 Replies
          1. re: raistlyn

            What's your favourite place for bagels in London? I totally agree that Brick Lane Beigel does not make great bagels.

            1. re: raistlyn

              Rosemary Lane isn't french! the chef is california, and that is her influence.

              but I was going to recommend it anyway. there is a lot of heart and care here, I always enjoy it.

              this is not a refined technique restaurant, its about broad, high volume flavours but its hard not to enjoy it.

              1. re: batfink23

                raislyn is partially correct....semantics. The website says the food is "French/Californian style." I'm not exactly sure what that means... perhaps in the tradition of French Laundry?

                1. re: zuriga1

                  I've eaten there a number of time, and no one should expect a french meal. most conventional modern culinary technique originates in classical french cooking, so on that level...

                    1. re: limster

                      Thanks - an interesting conversation to be sure. My brother has lived in CA for many years, so I've been lucky enough to eat a lot of meals there... at all ends of the spectrum. It's so hard to generalize about this sort of thing.

                    2. re: zuriga1

                      A couple of reviews I read listed it as being French. Ah well! My mistake.

                      As for good bagels... I don't think I've come across any in London just yet. I had my first NY bagel in October last year, and I've got to say it was miles better than those which I've tried here. I've heard about a bagel place in Finchley Road and have walked past another bakery (Rinkoffs?) in East London but not tried either. I'll try and remedy the latter one ASAP!

                      1. re: raistlyn

                        Carmelli's at Golder's Green is not all that bad as bagels go, and I've heard that Rinkoff's is also OK but have not tried them. I've taken to baking my own. I'm happy to say I'll be back in NY this May... that should satisfy my cravings for at least a few weeks.

                        1. re: raistlyn

                          I think you might be referring to Daniel's Bagel Bakery. Its at the Temple Fortune/North Circular end of Finchley Road:
                          12-13 Hallswelle Parade, Finchley Road, Golders Green, NW11 0DL
                          Opening Times: 7am-9pm Mon-Wed; 7am-10pm Thur; 7am-1hr before sabbath Fri.
                          NB Annoyingly, not open on Saturday!

                          If you visit on a Sunday morning, its quite a scene - some of the customers are not respecters of queuing ettiquette.

                          Fantastic bagels being turned out fresh all day, bags of mini-bagels that enchant everyone under 10, great Challah, yummy rye. My husband's family is from Montreal, big bagel afficionados, this is the only source that passes muster.

                          And there's a fantastic fish shop a couple of doors down that sells incredibly cheap and very tasty smoked salmon. Much more flavoursome than the supermarket offerings.