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Eat like a local in London.
London’s Shoreditch has always been on the cutting edge, a neighborhood outside the city center where musicians and artists could escape to and feel at home. Today, the area is still a place for London’s creative class to experiment and have more freedom than they would elsewhere, but now it’s the up-and-coming chefs and their hip, adventurous restaurants that line the area’s formerly gritty streets and alleyways. And while the list of the area’s eateries grows longer every month, these are five of our consistently excellent favorites.
In a small converted bike shed on a residential street, Rochelle Canteen is a hidden gem in Shoreditch (you even need to ring a buzzer for entrance), opened by Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson, who also run a catering business, Arnold & Henderson. Open for breakfast, lunch and tea, the menu changes often depending on what’s in season, but could include simple, fresh dishes like a classic roast chicken, a rabbit terrine or grilled lamb with fennel salad.
Chef James Lowe opened Lyle's in a minimal, whitewashed space in 2014, after spending time at the popular St. James Food and wine. Lowe specializes in an updated take on English classics. You might find a buttermilk crumpet with kale and mutton; Falmouth native oysters; or pollack, black cabbage and fermented gooseberries. For the brave, there's the “blood cake,” a chunk of baked pig’s head, blood and semolina.
Housed in the historic Shoreditch Town Hall (dating back to the late 1800’s), The Clove Club is London’s answer to Copenhagen's now-shuttered Noma, where chef Isaac McHale creates small, unique dishes you’ve probably never seen before. These could include gull’s eggs with lovage and roast Cornish pollock with carrots, seaweed and orange butter. Bonus: the pleasantly high-ceilinged, bright and airy dining room.
Nuno Mendes might be the chef at London’s hotter-than-hot Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, but he’s also opened a place in Old Spitalfields Market (right on the edge of Shoreditch) with fellow Portuguese native Antonio Galapito. Together, they’ve created a menu that reinvents their country’s favorites, like thechouriço vinho tinto (red wine chorizo) and pasteis de nata (an egg tart dessert), accompanied by an excellent list of Portuguese wines.
It’s not new or cutting edge, per se, but The Ten Bells should still be on your Shoreditch list. While it might seem morbid having a meal at a place that shines a light on Jack the Ripper (the notorious serial killer who stalked the streets of this very neighborhood) it’s also great fun. Under a vast display of news clippings with ghastly accounts of his killings, descriptions of the victims, and theories about who the killer was, diners indulge in classic British fare, like fish and chips and treacle-smoked salmon.