A perfect day in London’s east – Allpress, Pizza East or Brawn, Geffrye Museum, Duke’s Brew and Cue

East London is about far more than hipsters and fixed gear bicycles- though granted you’ll see plenty of those around.  Close to the Olympic sites and easily accessible by bus and the overground the east London suburbs of Shoreditch, Hoxton, Haggerston and Bethnal Green are also where you’ll find great coffee, markets, good food and one of the sweetest museums in London.

So here’s a perfect day in the east designed for you- and all mapped out below (both in text and a handy google map at the bottom so you can see how it all fits together).

Breakfast – Allpress Coffee

At Allpress you’ll find everything beloved about to brunch down under, one block back from Shoreditch High Street station.

This is an antipodean place that’s serious about their coffee. The enormous roasters in the corner of the cafe give that away a little. Come in, choose what you fancy at the counter and take a seat- they’ll then bring it over to you.

Beyond a nutty caramel blend of coffee, there’s no snobbery at Allpress about your personal whims. Flat white? Soy? Skim? Triple shot? They can manage most things, with a smile as well.

The room is light and airy, fronting a corner on the shabby-chic Redchurch Street. There are large shared tables that give you enough elbow room to spread out with friends (or bring a stroller). There are also taller seats up at the counter for when you want to anonymously perch somewhere with a latte and laptop. And when it comes to food, while the pastries are tempting, it’s very hard to go past the breakfast plate.

Some mornings being able to construct your own proportions of toast  from Sally Clarke’s bakery  with avocado, sliced tomato, cheese, jamon and a soft boiled egg is all you need to set a day straight.

That, and a plan. This is just step one.

Allpress London
58 Redchurch Street
Greater London E2 7DP
020 7749 1780
Underground: Shoreditch High Street
Open Tue-Fri 7:30am-4:30pm
Weekends 9am-5pm

Morning: shopping and wandering

Wander around the Boxpark pop up mall next to Shoreditch High Street station and beyond that to the shops of Shoreditch. If it’s the weekend, head over to the clothes and vintage markets on Brick Lane. Walk up to the shops on Columbia Road. On a Sunday, Columbia Road will be heaving with the flower markets.  On Saturdays (12-5) and Sundays (9-4) make sure you take the time to stop into UK papercut artist Rob Ryan’s store.

Lunch option 1:  Brawn

Up on Columbia Road you’ll find one of the loveliest examples of simple, modern British cooking. Brawn is the sister restaurant of Charring Cross’s Terroir. It’s a place for small plates and natural wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. There’s also a strong selection of ciders.

The menu is seasonally inspired and divided into the novelty categories of Taste Ticklers, Pig, Cold, Hot, Puddings and Cheese.

You don’t want to miss the quail’s eggs (£4), soft cooked so the Van Gogh yellow centres dash across your fingertips. Dip them in celery salt and be grateful that someone else has spent the time to shell them for you.

Much of what is grand about Brawn arrives on or with bread. Rustically chopped Tuscan beef may hail from Italy, but the presentation is French. Transferred onto toast it’s the most manly serving of steak tartare I’ve found.

Then there’s the charcuterie selection. Made in house it’s a quenelle of pork rillettes, melding threads of meat with a blanket of soft fat. There’s a thick slab of terrine, thin strips of salumi and a pot of cornichons for piquancy. All that for £12, with almost bottomless basket of bread. It’s great value.

It’s rustic and refined, relaxed yet special. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy lunch- yet it would be easy to find yourself wanting to slip back in for dinner. On Sundays, when the flower markets are on and Columbia road is packed there’s a set menu for a longer lunch.

Lunch is served from 12-3 Thursday to Saturday (on Sunday there’s a set menu).
Dinner is served from 6-11 Monday to Saturday.

(020) 7729 5692 
Bethnal Green

49 Columbia Road
London, E2 7

Lunch option 2: Pizza East

For a spot smack in the middle of East London, Pizza East reminds me a lot of New York. Once you’ve come up the stairs from Shoreditch High Street you’ll see a wide wooden table and the antipasto bar. The bar is a good spot for a drink and a nibble – and a wait if you come at night and you’ve neglected to make a booking.  Stretching on from there are a series of rectangular spaces which tinker with the building’s industrial history. The restaurant is a cavernous room, which seats up to 170 hipsters. The floors are wooden, the walls concrete. There are brushed metal topped bars and sea foam green and white tiles; which remind me of a vintage butchers.  The banquettes are ruby leather and the wide windows slake in plenty of light.

This is a buzzy place with wine by the carafe that’s served purposely out of tumblers. On the menu you’ll find light starters as well as a scattering of pasta and roast dishes. But what most people have come for is found in its name; pizza.

Pizza East’s dough has both heft and chew, stretching like pulled elastic at the edges. It puffs and cranes around the fillings and eventually slides to a soggy centre. There’s often the benefit of blemishes made of tasty char. In my opinion it’s second only to Brixton’s Franco Manca for the beacon of best pizza in London

The menu sports around 13 varieties of pie. The sprouting broccoli, spicy sausage and mozzarella (£13) is a good muddle of textures, with the well meaning greens bouncing off the heat in the meatballs.

Other winners include the veal meatballs with prosciutto cream and sage and the mozzarella, tomato and basil (though for me, a few extra basil leaves wouldn’t go astray). It’s worth knowing that at night the noise can ricochet and the crowd from the sister establishment of Soho House may boost the percentage of posers present towards noxious. Never fear, during the day it’s positively delightful.

Pizza East
56 Shoreditch High Street London E1 6JJ
Tel: 020 7729 1888

Afternoon: Geffrye Museum

If you fancy a little quiet reflection, history or a jaunt through a free museum, East London’s Geffrye Museum is perfect. Past the Vietnamese restaurants of Kingsland Road and beyond the grassed gardens you’ll find a modest (for museum standards) space that shows the changing style of the English domestic interiors. The museum lets you guide yourself through a series of period rooms that transition from 1600 to the present day.

There’s a sweet tea room at the rear and an award winning walled herb gardens to explore. For those wanting a glimpse of how London has changed over time, this is a lovely window. Nb the museum also hosts changing exhibitions of furniture design and interior design.

The Geffrye Museum
Kingsland Road,
London,  E2 8EA
Tel: 020 7739 9893

Walk north along Kingsland Road towards…..

Dinner: Dukes Brew and Cue

The sign out the front tells you most of what you need to know. Beer+Meat =Fat +Happy. Duke’s Brew and Cue is a casual and fun spot in Hackney, with a cheeky charm all of its own. It’s rough hewn wood and long lists of beers, including three from Beavertown Brewery that are made on site. They also make a mean cocktail and have enough consideration to serve wine out of proper stemware.

If the weather is nice you might want to sit on one of the sidewalk tables. If not inside there both booths and long tables, plus seats at the bar. In the back corner near the kitchen there’s a doll with tape over its mouth, peering out of a vintage pram. Across from that are some longhorn skulls.

What most people have come here for are the ribs. Beef ribs and pork ribs have a good kick of spice and a strong whiff of smoke. Orders come with coleslaw and pickles. The spicy beans are also worth thinking about.

It’s also hard to go past what comes in buns. Pulled pork sliders are novelty sized burgers, best built for children and those with miniature hands. The Duke Burger (£11.95) is another beast entirely. It’s a hefty chunk of medium rare ground beef, a puck of tomato, with lettuce and special barbecue sauce. It’s much more than a mouthful- but all of them are good.

Desserts need some work, but the service is as sweet as pie. The crowd here at Duke’s are mostly east London locals; flush with youth and tinged with insouciance.  If there’s one thing they know,  it’s how to have a good time. Let them lead the way.

*Bookings might be wise for dinner. Otherwise, you can always put your name down and drink at the bar.

Dukes Brew and Cue
33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town,
Hackney, London, N1 5AA
Telephone: 020 3006 0795

View Good day in London’s East in a larger map

Other perfect days in London

Perfect day in London’s South Bank

Perfect day in London’s West End

  1. This is a brilliant guide Tori! I know with cities as large as London, it is hard to know where to start first and what to include and what not to include 🙂 And of course you want to have what the locals have too!

  2. A great article indeed and a very detailed, realistic and superb analysis of the current and past scenarios.

  3. We got all press down here in Melbourne too, love it. Solid coffee when you need it

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