Modern Brick Lane: Modern Britain

I’ve read the eponymous Monica Ali novel and I had an impression of Brick Lane by reputation but I’d never actually visited. My recent visit was a real eye-opener of modern London and what a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place multicultural Britain can be.

The long road is dotted with independent boutiques, bars, restaurants, and tattooists. There are few cars which pass through and so people wander along just gawping at the sights. Part of the view is an impressive collection of graffiti – big, small, topical, funny and angry. There were tour guides going from wall to wall.

There are some famous places here too. The Cereal Killer Cafe offers over 100 breakfast cereals from around the world at exhorbitant prices but had diners queuing out of the door. There are a couple of Dark Sugars outlets selling handmade chocolates and fabulous thick hot chocolate with added chocolate shavings on top.

The side streets are fascinating too. Food of every cuisine has its place. There are food yards where mobile street food vans serve everything from pizza to doughnuts. The old Truman brewery has been converted into some really funky shops including a large Rough Trade store with a cafe, books, vinyl and t-shirts.

If ever you want to people watch this is a good place. There are models doing photo shoots against the graffiti back drops, tall, short, all manner of tattoos and clothing, and every nationality. This is the place for the seriously cool people but without an edge that makes square old me feel out of place. Its accepting and tolerant without a sign of trouble or drunkenness.

The food highlight for me is that Brick Lane is also home to a couple of day-night beigel shops. Feel free to challenge me on the spelling. The same shop had beigel and beigal but definitely not bagel. There are two very close to each other. We went to “the yellow one” rather than “the white one”. Its supposedly over one hundred years older but does serve a bacon beigal to the horror of some patrons. I went for the salt beef which looked stunningly good and was rewarded with huge slices of it on a fresh beigal with yelllow mustard and some dill pickle. It was magnificent. For £4.40 I would happily eat it every day and be very happy. Over the road people still skulk into a Subway franchise (pretty much the only chain I saw along Brick Lane’s length) which is nothing short of heresy. What sort of person would do that?

Brick Lane fed me and entertained me. Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London are part of our proud history but, for me, have little relevance to the modern Britain I enjoy. Visitors to London who want to understand what a diverse culture we have in the 21st century would enjoy a day browsing round Shoreditch and Brick Lane in particular. Its odd that a two hundred year old beigal brought to Britain by immigrants kind of symbolises it.

I’ve read the eponymous Monica Ali novel and I had an impression of Brick Lane by reputation but I’d never actually visited. My recent visit was a real eye-opener of modern London and what a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place multicultural Britain can be.

The long road is dotted with independent boutiques, bars, restaurants, and tattooists. There are few cars which pass through and so people wander along just gawping at the sights. Part of the view is an impressive collection of graffiti – big, small, topical, funny and angry. There were tour guides going from wall to wall.

There are some famous places here too. The Cereal Killer Cafe offers over 100 breakfast cereals from around the world at exhorbitant prices but had diners queuing out of the door. There are a couple of Dark Sugars outlets selling handmade chocolates and fabulous thick hot chocolate with added chocolate shavings on top.

The side streets are fascinating too. Food of every cuisine has its place. There are food yards where mobile street food vans serve everything from pizza to doughnuts. The old Truman brewery has been converted into some really funky shops including a large Rough Trade store with a cafe, books, vinyl and t-shirts.

If ever you want to people watch this is a good place. There are models doing photo shoots against the graffiti back drops, tall, short, all manner of tattoos and clothing, and every nationality. This is the place for the seriously cool people but without an edge that makes square old me feel out of place. Its accepting and tolerant without a sign of trouble or drunkenness.

The food highlight for me is that Brick Lane is also home to a couple of day-night beigal shops. Feel free to challenge me on the spelling. The same shop had beigel and beigal but definitely not bagel. There are two very close to each other. We went to “the yellow one” rather than “the white one”. Its supposedly over one hundred years older but does serve a bacon beigal to the horror of some patrons. The yellow one has also launched the rainbow beigel too – a step too far even for a novice. I went for the salt beef which looked stunningly good and was rewarded with huge slices of it on a fresh beigal with yelllow mustard and some dill pickle. It was magnificent. For £4.40 I would happily eat it every day and be very happy. Over the road people still skulk into a Subway franchise (pretty much the only chain I saw along Brick Lane’s length) which is nothing short of heresy. What sort of person would do that?

Brick Lane fed me and entertained me. It wasn’t the Brick Lane I was expecting and I suspect there is a different Brick Lane for every day of the year and every time of day. Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London are part of our proud history but, for me, have little relevance to the modern Britain I enjoy. Visitors to London who want to understand what a diverse culture we have in the 21st century would enjoy a day browsing round Shoreditch and Brick Lane in particular. Its odd that a centuries-old beigel brought to Britain by immigrants kind of symbolises it.

Advertisements

About justaukcook

/kʊk/ Not a chef, not an epicure, not a foodie. Just one who likes to prepare food – What really happens in the kitchen and on the high street is what I write about. Follow me on Twitter @Justaukcook and on https://www.facebook.com/justaukcook
This entry was posted in Opinion, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Please leave feedback, I'd love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s