Pachamama East

Pachamama East is the Shoreditch off-shoot of the Marylebone original and is the latest restaurant from the team behind Chicama in Chelsea. Like its sister restaurants, they are still serving up Peruvian food, but this time with Japenese and Chinese influences – and let it be known, it’s seriously delicious.

The interior is something that you’d want to stick on Pinterest, think exposed brick, festoon lighting, marble tables, pink geometric floor tiles – But it’s not style without substance.

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Start with a cocktail (a pisco is a must) and a side of prawn toast whilst you browse the menu.

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The menu is divided into small plates categorised as Land, Soil and Sea. I recommend going heavy on the latter, it’s all about the ceviches when it comes to Peruvian food. Eat them all with a spoon and as you’ll want to be having as much of that citrus-y dressing as humanly possible. The salmon ceviche was divine, paired with a rich and zingy tigers milk and cubes of avocado and tomatoes. For me, the tuna on a bed on smashed avocado topped with jalapenos and radishes was one of my favourites.

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The tapioca marshmallows were another highlight from the menu and a real revolution. It’s chewy, but not cloying, and the fish has the exact springy texture of a marshmallow. It’s served with a drop of fiery chilli sauce on top (which was way too spicy for me) and the fish itself is packed in a crisp casing which oozes as you bite into it. Don’t be put off by the name – it’s a real winner.

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Get a couple of dishes from the ‘soil’ section to balance it all out. I highly recommend the caramelised aubergine with peanuts and asking for the plantain for dessert. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth and this dish comes with feta, black olives and yacon syrup. It’s an incredible fusion dish and right up my street.

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It’s the perfect place to have in your arsenal when you want fresh seafood. Prepare to want to go back often.

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Pachamama East, 73 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HR

 

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Tuyo

If you’re fed up of East London’s endless burger and sourdough pizza offerings, I say try something different at Tuyo, a pan-Mediterranean spot near Hackney’s Broadway Market.

It’s got an ex Salt Yard chef, Ricardo Pimental, at the helm who is serving up Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes. Just on the corner of Regents Canal, with floor-to-ceiling windows and baskets overspilling with greenery hanging all over the place. It comes complete with a bustling open kitchen as you make your way into the restaurant.

Tuyo serves up tapas-style sharing dishes and forces you to confront all your prejudices about fusion food. Line your stomach and whet your appetite with the blue cheese & date croquetas served with cumin alioil and roast walnuts. These small, sweet and salty croquetas are incredibly moreish, and disappear within seconds – a naughty but nice snack to have with your first round of drinks.

Moving on, you’ve got a whole range of dishes to choose from, from monkfish served with mushrooms and apricots, to ox cheeks and lemon grass, to butternut squashed accompanied with a harrisa and almond dressing.  The menu is unashamedly, yet mouthwateringly fused.

Then there’s the octopus which is the real show-stopper for me, dressed with hummus and cumin yoghurt, it’s delicious and so delicate; it’s one not to be missed.

On to dessert, because no meal is complete without it, try the dish which is described as baklava – only it isn’t. It’s far from the classic dish, but it’s a lighter version with almond pastry layered over minted yoghurt and garnished with fresh mango.

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Tuyo, 129A Pritchard’s Rd, London E2 9AP

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Brunch at Bristrotheque

Is there anything more quintessentially East London than having brunch in a converted warehouse?

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Enter Bistrotechque – a restaurant in a converted warehouse hidden away in Dalston.

You’ll probably find yourself checking Google Maps, wondering if you’ve gone wrong along the way, and questioning all the endless rows of old warehouses and houses without a hint of ‘there’s a restaurant in here’ as you walk down the street – but don’t let that put you off.

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The only marker that you’re reached Bistrotechque is a discreet little opening between a couple of buildings, which is given away by some dangling lights and some foliage.

Once you head inside and make your way up the stairs, you’re greeted with a massive bright, airy, white room. There’s a large bar running down the side of the restaurant, with an open kitchen at one end, and a piano at the other.

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The room is stark and is simply decorated with industrial drop lighting, original concrete floors and brick walls, plus it comes complete with white-clothed tables, which really brings the place together.

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The menu at Bristotheque is filled with your standard brunch fare, but with a few surprises thrown into the mix. I was gutted to find out that only two weeks after we visited that they added a soft shell crab benedict to their menu!

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I opted for the Bistrotheque Breakfast, which comes with sausage, bacon, baked beans, layered potato, eggs, and toast. It’s a whole lot of food and Conor had to help me finish it off as I couldn’t quite manage it.

Their layered potatoes are something else though – they’re basically fried potatoes but served as stacked, thinly sliced cubes… I dread to think about how many calories they contained.

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Conor went for the Eggs Royale, which was served the traditional way on English muffins but it comes with a little twist, however, as the eggs are topped with caviar.

Now brunch isn’t brunch without a bloody mary (or two), and Bistrotheque mixes up a knockout – just don’t get your spice wimp boyfriend to try it because it really packs a punch.

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Bristotheque, 23-27 Wadeson St, London E2 9DR

 

 

 

Blok London | Clapton

My parents moved to London over 30 years ago – back when you wouldn’t be caught dead in Shoreditch after dark, and when Clapton was an elephant graveyard. But these days, it’s painfully hip.

Blok London is a workout studio which I’ve been dying to try out for some time now, and thanks to ClassPass, I finally managed to book myself into a session.  It’s housed in a converted Victorian tram depot in Clapton. It’s got two studios, and both of them retain the buildings original industrial features, with boxing bags hanging from the steel beams.

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Each studio has its own specialism – one decided to boxing and high-intensity interval training, and the second space is for yoga, barre and plates. Don’t expect to find any treadmills or fancy machines here, it’s all about the classes and stripping things back to basics.

I tried their signature class, BlokFit, which is strength and conditioning based. The workout was led by trainer Kenny, who started the session with a 5-minute warm-up of jump squats, lungees and burpees to get your heart rate going.

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BlokFit is a circuit-based class, and we worked our way around 9 stations, performing each exercise for a minute in total – the first round was focused on our lower body and the next, on our upper body. We used a range of equipment from battle ropes, TRXs, kettlebells, medicine balls, plus there were some bodyweight exercises thrown in.

Once we completed the lower body circuit, we were put into pairs – one of us skipped for 20 reps, whilst the other completed a plank shoulder tap for 20 and then we switched. Dropping it by 4 counts after we had both completed both exercises.

After the upper body circuit, we partnered up again and hit the same format, but this time performing mountain climbers and high-plank to low-plank pushups.

The class was pretty rammed packed for a Sunday, which meant the instructor spent most of his time reminding us what we were meant to do at each station, rather than correcting our form.

It’s definitely a hard class, and if you’re not used to lifting heavy weights (as their lightest kettlebell was 15kg), you might struggle. It definitely challenged me to do exercises I wouldn’t usually include in my circuits.

Each class is priced at £14, or you can invest in a pack, but they can also be found on Class Pass.

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Blok London, The Tram Depot, 38-40 Upper Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 8BQ

*Photos courtesy of  Blok

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Brunch at Strut & Cluck

If you’re anything like me, your weekday breakfast often consists of eggs or avos – so by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m in the mood for something different. That’s where Strut & Cluck step in. Originally just specialising in dishes featuring the turkey, they’ve branched out to a menu which really showcases Eastern Mediterranean flavours, which they’re known and loved for.

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You’ll find Struct & Cluck on a prime spot on Commerical Street, literally around the corner from Shoreditch High Street overground station. It’s got a glass-fronted exterior which looks into a brightly lit room. It’s filled with rustic wood tables, exposed light bulbs and hanging plants. The now-classic East London look and definitely something I’d love for my own flat.

I went post-gym class at the Adidas Studio and met up with my sister. She ordered the hand-pulled turkey shawarma, which is topped with a fried egg and served with dates, pine nuts, tahini on top of a pita.

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I went for the classic shakshuka, two eggs cooked in a pan with tomatoes, peppers, onions, chilli and chorizo, served with a warm pita for scooping. My eggs, unfortunately, were served undercooked, but the staff took the dish away no problem and gave me a free coffee as an apology.

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It’s a calm little oasis in the heart of Shoreditch – a perfect spot to rest your legs and refuel after a morning of touring East London.

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Strut & Cluck, 151 Commercial St, London E1 6BJ

*Main photo courtesy of Strut & Cluck

 

 

Breakfast in Bread at The Barge House

If you’re looking for an Instagrammable Sunday brunch, then you’ll want to hit up The Barge House in East London. You’ll find it on the Regent’s Canal between Hoxton and Haggerston set in an old Victorian warehouse – all of which are now either places to grab a bite to eat, craft breweries or design studios. The place is decked out fairy lights which cover their floor-to-ceiling windows, with tables along the waterside and a minimalist dining room and an open-plan kitchen.

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Their Breakfast in Bread brunch menu is exactly what it says on the tin – a hollowed-out sourdough loaf packed full with traditional breakfast fare. There are a couple of options to choose from… the original is your standard full English complete with slow-roast tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, leeks, Cumberland sausage, spinach, bacon with an egg. Or you can grab yourself a vegetarian version which comes with avocado, spinach and asparagus.

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Whilst there’s limited choice for veggies, and no vegan options, they do try to source all their produce as ethically as possible. All their eggs are free-range and their sourdough loaves are baked just around the corner at the Better Health Bakery – an artisan bakery who provide trainee placements for adults recovering from mental illness.

I opted for the smoked salmon bread bowl. It’s filled with spinach, leeks, smoked salmon, creme fraiche and topped with an egg and a sprinkle of cheese. It’s a food coma in waiting.

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The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Cres, London, N1 5RY

Main photo courtesy of The Barge House

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East London Liquor Company

A few weeks back (and when I say a few, I mean two months ago), my family and I took a trip up to Mile End, to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary. They moved to London 35 years ago and originally lived in Hackney, so they were keen to go back to see how much the area has changed.

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We decided to hit up East London Liquor Company, a gin and vodka distillery in East London with a bottle shop and restaurant. You’ll find it just south of Vicky Park next to the canal. It’s a well-kept secret (there’s no signage) and it’s just simply decorated with reclaimed brick walls and salvaged trestle tables – the shimmering copper distillers behind the bar do all the talking here.

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It was a beautiful golden afternoon and after being crammed on a sweltering hot central line tube, all I could think about was that gin and tonic waiting for me at the end of my journey. They boast an incredible stash of bottled spirits (and you can book into distillery tours) but if you’d rather a cold beer (like my brother) they’ve got it by the bucketful.

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If you need something to soak up the booze, they’ve got an on-site restaurant which is influenced by Italian cuisine, complete with a pizza oven and array of sharing plates. We dived into the sharing plates and each ordered our favourite thing on the menu to divide between the four of us: prosciutto & ricotta wrapped grissini, zucchini tagliatelle, artichoke & fennel Salad, and burrata served with nettles.

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I’ll definitely start incorporating the prosciutto and ricotta wrapped grissini into my dinner parties, such a simple snack but one that is incredibly tasty.

The other highlight was the zucchini tagliatelle, it was so light and was served with a dollop of parmesan cheese on top. If you ever find yourself at The East London Liquor Company and fancy a snack to accompany your drinks, get this.

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And if you’re anything like my family, a couple of sharing plates isn’t enough, and thankfully their pizza oven comes to the rescue when feeding the Boasts. Order the ricotta stuffed crust, which is topped with tomato, salami, parmesan and rocket.

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East London Liquor CompanyUnit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London, E3 5SN

*Main photo courtesy of East London Liquor Company