A new set of food pioneers are taking quality food out of the restaurant and onto the street - offering prime ingredients at low prices. Marina O’Loughlin picks her favourite London street food spots
This new breed uses prime ingredients with as much care and passion as the snootiest tableclothed posho. Pitches are popping up all over town: the latest are at Zoo Lates (Friday evenings at London Zoo), Red Market, a hipsters’ paradise in Shoreditch, and, coming in August, The StockMKT in Bermondsey.
Existing hotbeds are Lower Marsh Street Market at Waterloo and Whitecross Street. At the thriving Broadway Market, I love the wonderful Vietnamese baguettes from Bánh Mì 11 ( www.banhmi11.com). Just round the corner, Netil Market offers the delights of Lucky Chip ( www.luckychipuk.com) where you can wallow in an Eastwood, Selleck or Sheen – inches-thick butch patties of 32-day-aged Longhorn beef from The Ginger Pig, loose and greasy as the best of them, with homemade condiments, handcut chips or beetroot onion rings.
At Zoo Lates, keep an eye out for Anna Mae’s Smokehouse ( www.anna-maes.co.uk). Inspired by owners Tony Solomon and Anna Clark’s travels in America’s south, it dishes out killer ‘pimped-up’ mac’*’cheese alongside what’s due to become a classic, the Notorious P.I.G. sandwich: pulled pork topped with house-made bourbon and chipotle barbecue sauce. Or hit Old Street, opposite Great Eastern Street, where Abiye Cole shows how hotdogs should be done at Big Apple Hotdogs ( www.bigapplehotdogs.com).
Inspired by watching Kojak and Starsky And Hutch as a child, his are the real deal: pillowy rolls by Hoxton family bakers Anderson’s and ‘no nasty bits’ dogs created in London from quality meat. The sausages are far enough removed from typical street eats to be an entirely different species. He’s at Clapton’s Chatsworth Road Market on a Sunday, where I also love the Osaka-style okonomikayi (Japanese savoury pancakes) available at Fumio Tanga’s Sho Foo Doh stall ( twitter.com/SHOFOODOH).
Petra Barran of ChocStar Van ( www.chocstar.co.uk), one of the scene’s originators and coordinator of the invaluable eat.st website, sells her astonishing chocolate wares at the South Bank’s recently launched Real Food Market. Her brownies are legendary but it’s her shots of intense, almost buzzy hot chocolate that keep me coming back for more.
Also on the South Bank is Pitt Cue Co ( twitter.com/pittcueco). Bosses Tom Adams and Jamie Berger seem almost insanely committed to bringing the taste of the States to us Londoners. I’ve tried just about the lot now: brisket that falls apart into fibres of tenderness; meaty, smoky ribs; the most ambrosial pulled pork; Old Spot pork shoulders smoked for 15 hours. There might be specials: deep-fried wild garlic buds; smoked ox cheeks; or pork fat-injected aubergines. And the picklebacks: a shot of bourbon, a shot of sweet, vinegary pickle brine, a rustling cup of pork scratchings – their version, apparently, of the dirty martini.
Street food offers dining democracy, a way to eat cheaply and well without compromising on quality or provenance. And with none of the attitude. Something decent has come out of the recession? Looks very much like it