Tag Archives: bethnal green

Supper club at the Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green

I’ve been placed on a major budget, in the form of a stern excel spreadsheet which I’ve avoided inspecting too closely, and so am cooking at home most of the time these days rather than going out. I’ve also gone back to full-time work – hence the sporadic posting – and am well and truly back in the commuting/get home/cook dinner/tell Nick Robinson to go home to his wife when the 10pm news comes on (seriously, the man is always outside Number 10. I frankly suspect that the BBC grew him in a test tube to be their political editor. I have worked for them and I would not put it past them at all). And while we’re on the subject, am I the only person to not have worked out that he’s a Conservative? Seriously, I always found him neutral in his reporting, and was a little shocked when a bloke I worked with at The Big Issue referred to him as Nick F***face Robinson.

Anyway, yes, so not too much eating out, which means lots of cooking, lots of cleaning up, lots of food shopping and lots of trying to come up with new and interesting ways with mince (thanks Guardian).

Which is why it was so, so nice, and very much appreciated, of the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green to invite me for dinner at their new Vegan Supper Club. Seriously, if there are any other new restaurants around that feel like feeding me I’m wide open to offers. Wide open.

The Gallery Cafe, for those who don’t know it, is on Old Ford Road, just opposite the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and next door to the British boxing mecca York Hall, whose marble-tiled Turkish baths have recently been refurbished, and whose fifty-metre pool was my loyal friend before the London Fields lido opened.

Upon arrival, my dining companion (ok, my husband, I have been married since 2008 and really need to get comfortable with saying the word) remarked that the room itself ‘reminds me a bit New York, what with all the original artwork and huge windows.’

I commented, ‘Well, how would you know, you’ve never been, and with this savage budget you’ve put us on you may never find out.’

To which he retorted, ‘I’ve seen enough audio-visual representations of New York to be confident that it looks exactly like this room’. At which point, thank God, the starters arrived and we could stop talking and stabilise our blood sugars.

I had a samosa stuffed with mushrooms and served with two vibrant dips, one was, I think, spicy carrot, and the other was avocado. This was really good. My companion had a broccoli soup which, given the humidity last night, I personally found an odd choice, but he finished it quite happily.

The second course brought a leek and aubergine pizza for me, which was garlicky and delicious – it’s rare to find a pizza I don’t like, apart from those puffy tourist ones you see on Oxford Street. The other main was an asparagus and broad bean bake with salad, which also went down well.

For dessert I had a very summery strawberry tofu cheesecake, served in a glass, and my companion was quietly pleased with his vegan vanilla and chocolate ice cream and a chocolate cupcake. The service throughout was swift and friendly, and it seems like a lovely relaxed place to have a meal with friends, too, which a few other tables were doing.

The supper clubs are held every now and then, and are around the bargain price of £16 for three courses, with lovely service in a very beautiful room. But the cafe is also open for breakfast, lunch and early dinners too, as well as for lots of crafty, musical and poetical events. And I did eventually concede, once I’d eaten, that it also benefits from a bit of a New York movie-style ambience.

PS Thanks to Skirmish of Wit for the image, which I’ve borrowed until I can get to my camera again.

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Filed under Somewhere to eat

Mysterious windows on Bethnal Green Road

spookygeraniums

It’s damn near impossible to make it to the end of Bethnal Green Road without stopping for a snack. Even the fried chicken shops sell curries and shish kebabs, and the smell is so delicious I usually succumb just before Brick Lane. Having said that, I am yet to try Gourmet San, the Szechuan restaurant that turned down an Observer review saying, ‘No thanks. We don’t need any extra custom. Almost all our clientele are Chinese, and they don’t read the Observer.’ Here’s the review anyway….. it’s definitely high on my to-eat list, although the stuff they ordered – pigs’ trotters, sliced beef tongue and tripe – sounded slightly intimidating to my tame Western palate. 

So this time I almost made it to Brick Lane before being halted in my tracks by a five-quid thali deal at Maida (also reviewed by the Observer). The service was friendly – they brought me tap water without being asked, and the food was good for a quick lunch – two small silver pots of vegetarian curry, some yogurt, dhal, pita, rice and chutney. Apparently it’s got lamb chops to rival Tayyabs, but we’ve been hearing this for a while now, haven’t we?

Anyway, what really intrigued me was the view from my table, of four windows hung with greying lace curtains, a few red-geraniums on the ledge and no view of what or who was within. It didn’t look abandoned, but it did look strangely out of time, and I’m still wondering about it.

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Filed under Outdoors, Somewhere to eat

The band stand at Arnold Circus in Bethnal Green

arnoldcircusBS

Well it’s a spooky, gloomy time of year, so I thought I’d mention the bandstand at Arnold Circus. It always strikes me as such an eerie place. It was built in the 1890s on top of a mound of rubble left from the demolition of the Friars Mount slum, which was replaced with the elegant red-brick Boundary Housing estate that still surrounds it, one of the earliest social housing estates.

 The bandstand also appeared in the teen prostitute movie Stella Does Tricks – which, I just found out, was written by the brilliant Scottish writer and comedian AL Kennedy, author of the skullf*** novel Paradise. I saw that film long before I saw the bandstand, and have always found it a strangely isolated place in the middle of so much life. At the same time, it’s beautiful and atmospheric. And then it struck me – it’s the perfect place, in this crowded corner of the world, to break up with someone. Continue reading

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Filed under Things to do