My office, based in Moorgate, used to be shared with an investment bank.
As a result, the office block housed a very decent canteen.
However, ever since the bank moved out, the canteen has gone downhill. Gone are the days of vibrant salads, daily specials and specialist smoothies; replaced instead by tame soups, stale sandwiches and lacklustre mains.
This was no bad thing, however. It meant that I had an excuse to try out the various markets and lunch vendors in and around Moorgate.
Coco di Mama: This unassuming spot is one of my go-to lunch destinations. Coco di Mama sell decent Italian themed sandwiches at reasonable prices (c.£5.00 will get you a densely packed Parmesan, rocket and pesto chicken ciabatta and a pot of olives). They also do fresh pasta (would recommend the vodka pasta) and salads (try the Caprese) too.
All in all, much better quality and value than Pret!
Pod: More of a winter choice in my opinion. They sell good “pods” – warm, filling mains such as thai green curries and goan lamb stews – but at a high price point (up to £7!). Their super 7 baguettes and breakfast smoothies are decent choices too.
Fastoche: Fastoche take a different approach to lunch. You choose a size (small or large for £1 extra), a base (pasta, rice and/or mixed vegetables), a sauce (anything from olive oil to katsu curry) and a topping (go for extra sauce!). The combinations work fairly well and allow for a lot of choice. Given that this is hot food, I would recommend trying this in the autumn/winter (unless you fancy falling asleep at the desk!)
Pure: My go to place if I’m feeling rough. Despite being fairly expensive (up to £6.55 for a salad!), the ingredients are fresh, the portion sizes are decent and you end up feeling “detoxed”. Their warm menu is also very good (I would recommend the Balinese Pork!) but I have been told on several occasions that their flat-breads aren’t very filling.
Vital Ingredient: Vital Ingredient are like a combination of Pure and Fastoche: You choose a base and toppings for your salad. However, I find the ingredients to be of a lower quality than Pure and the staff can be quite abrupt.
One of my colleagues, however, swears by the place.
Itsu: Itsu are like an upmarket version of Wasabi. They have fresher, higher grade sushi, a very good (albeit too salty) Miso soup and highly addictive Froyo. The portions are also very generous (the Super Salmon 3-ways will fill you up for a long long time) and they have a half-price sale every day from 8.30 pm onwards (fresh food only) – useful if you are working late!
Patisserie Valerie: I found lunch at Patisserie Valerie to be a torrid experience. My eggs benedict royal was overcooked and overpriced (£8.50!) whilst my colleagues request for a plain bagel was rejected (the waiter told her she had to have a topping, or with chips!). Good cakes, however.
Pilpel: Ahh Pilpel. This place is heaven for falafel addicts. Moist, crunchy falafel sitting on a bed of fresh mixed salad and houmous, lathered in a wonderfully rich chilli sauce (always go for the green one!) and topped with a creamy tahini sauce. My usual order is a falafel container, with all the salads (extra pickles) and brown pitta – all for £5.65!
The staff here are always friendly, willing to accommodate most requests and always give freebies away (I have been given free falafel and drinks on numerous occasions!).
Be warned though: there is always a queue at lunch time!
Nandos: No need for an introduction here! Spicy chicken (lemon and herb is for wimps!), crispy thin-cut chips, minty peas and bottomless drinks. A perfect hangover cure.
(One of my life goals is to obtain a Nandos black card and take Sanjay and Marvin out for Nandos every day for a year. Nandos, if you are reading this……….)
K10: Do a decent lunch-time sushi deal of one Hot Dish/Single Sushi Set, Edamame Beans and a drink for £6.50. The sushi itself is fresher than Itsu, although the portions can be a bit stingy.
Edamame beans here are some of the best I’ve had in a long long time: salty, with just the right amount of bite.
Tsuru: A lunch place for sushi connoisseurs. Their “Tsuru taster” consisting of 2 salmon nigiri, a tuna nigiri, a tiger prawn nigiri, a seabass nigir, a tamago nigiri, 2 salmon & avocado uramaki and a crab & avocado uramaki was just exquisite (I was met with many “food envy” stares during my lunch!)
Pricing is also very very good (the aforementioned platter is £7.25), despite the significant jump in quality. A must try for those who love sushi.
White Cross market: A food market sitting just off the Moorgate Waitrose. Offerings include a very good pork burrito, an insanely addictive (but sleep inducing) mixed grill wrap (similar, but better than Kati Roll), a pieshop, greek salads and various sweet offerings. Good for the price (£5-6 per meal) although the quality could be improved for a few of the stalls (I’m looking at you Mr Pilpel wannabe).
The Jugged Hare: Great combination of beers (even the office Belg loves it here!), relaxed atmosphere and wonderful innovative food. Dishes include Wild boar head croquettes with apple caramel (£6.50), a decent (i.e. no Meatliqor/Umami burger) Longhorn cheese burger and Breaded skate knobs.
It is a bit pricey, but very good value for money. All in all a great spot for celebratory lunches.
Patty and bun: I could not stop grinning when I found out that Patty and Bun were opening a store in Liverpool street station (in even better news, I hear that the Modern pantry are opening a branch next to my office!). And when I went to visit during the opening week (and subsequently every week since then) I was not (and have yet to be) disappointed: A side of brisket totz and piri piri ketchup was saliva inducing; the marmite mayo, hot dog onions and smoked ham covered patty (served on a toasted brioche roll) BLEW. MY. MIND.
Patty and bun, respect.
Grill My Cheese: Not actually located near the City (they can usually be found in Haringey Market). However, last week, Devonshire Square held a World food market within which various traders set up stall for the week and GMC were one of them.
For those of you that know me, grilled cheese sandwiches are one of my favourite comfort foods. So when I saw this stall (and the grilled cheese, pulled pork, mac and cheese sandwich), I knew I had to give it a go.
Ok, so the sandwiches took a while to get cooked. And the sandwiches were a bit pricey (£6.00) and could do with a bit more stuffing. However, when I stuffed my face with this gorgeous ‘wich, all was forgotten. Seriously, this was a moment of pure bliss!
A must visit if you are ever in Haringey on a Saturday!
(In other news, a new lunch market is opening on Tuesday 7th July on 100 Bishopsgate. I will update this blog once I have had a chance to sample the goods there. Rumours are that Blecker St. Burger will be making an appearance!)
La Passione: Located next to the Waitrose in Moorgate, this place offers salads, lasagnas, roasted chicken thighs all for £5.50 (£5 for takeaways). Imagine Princis, just less high end.
Bishopsgate market: is only open two days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and offers a great range of options. On my previous two visits, I have tried the Buttermilk fried chicken from Spit and Roast, the burger from Bleecker St Burger and the outrageous sea salt caramel and banana doughnut from Crosstown doughnuts.
The buttermilk fried chicken was perfectly cooked, spicy and an absolute joy to eat. The addition of peanuts was a masterstroke as it provided much needed additional texture.
The burger was cooked medium rare, juicy and essentially what you would expect from a well-followed burger van, However, the bun was a bit lacking and is an area that lets these guys down.
The doughnut was, without a doubt, the best doughnut I have eaten. EVER. The intense crumbly chocolate topping, the luscious sweet and salty caramel, the fluffy dough and the creamy banana filling (mine was so full it was bursting!) all combined to create the ultimate doughnut. I don’t use the hashtag “foodporn” lightly, but if there ever was a foodstuff befitting of this title………
A new independent located on Paul Street, Bel-Air produce (dare I say it) one of the best salads in London given the price bracket (I paid £6.30 for 4 large salads and a root frittata). The fresh and vibrant ingredients coupled with the huge portions make Bel-Air even better than Princi!
Goodbye Pure, Vital Ingredient and Tossed – you have been replaced!