As I mentioned previously about London (from past Monday and Wednesday posts), this trip was all about discovering smaller sights and exploring new corners of the city. One day in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London I did just that. There is much to see and eat in the east side of London, a much ignored area by tourists for its lacking in big-ticket sights.
Here's how I spent a Sunday in Shoreditch, with some interspersed tips from additional trips made to the area during my trip. I couldn't stay away from this cool neighborhood (despite staying on the opposite side of town)!
1. Breakfast at Dishoom
There was a time when I bought into the myth that England seriously lacked in its food offerings with little more than greasy fish and chips to show for hundreds of years of history. Thankfully I have found the bad food rap to be undeserved, and I came to London with an appetite. Especially with an appetite for Indian food. I think I could have eaten Indian food for a week straight. So Indian for breakfast was a good start.
A friend told me to go to Dishoom for breakfast to try a naan roll. I love carbs of any kind, and naan is on top of my list of favorites alongside a classic French baguette. Naan for breakfast? Genius! Why have I never thought of this before?
Thus my day in Shoreditch started off extremely well. A spicy house chai accompanied by fried eggs and bacon on baked naan gave me sustenance for what was to follow. (See the end of the post for all additional details.)
Columbia Road hosts a lovely flower market every Sunday from 8:00am until about 3:00pm. Even if you're a tourist like me with no need to buy fresh cut flowers, it is beautiful to see the street transformed into a thriving market (not to mention the cute shops and restaurants nearby).
In the dead of winter I was reminded of the hope of spring.
The flower market lifted my spirits as I thought about warm weather, but the reality of January in London bit me through my gloves. It was time to move on to an indoor activity, and I was intrigued by the V&A Museum of Childhood.
True to its name, this museum exhibits a large collection of toys and games. The toys ranged from ones I enjoyed playing with as a kid, continuing back to the 1800's, with an impressive doll house from 1673 among the collection.
The museum was fun to explore as an adult. Did you realize how busy Barbie is? (Or should I use her full name, Barbara Millicent Roberts?) With 43 pets and over 80 careers, I'm not sure how she always maintains a smile on her face!
The museum was also a hit with kids with a bunch of interactive stations scattered around. On Sunday, it was full of little ones playing and running around.
My favorite section was the special exhibit called War Games, only open through March 9, 2014. I was really interested in the children's games displayed during World War II, like this one made in France called the Liberation Game (made in 1944):
This free museum is worth a look!
4. Dinner at Tayyabs
You didn't think my Indian food kick would be satisfied by breakfast, did you? It was a good start in the right direction, but I was looking for some Chicken Tikka Masala and more naan.
Tayyabs is no secret to those in the know about Indian food in London. Their website warns about long queues to get a table. Once you step in and see just how big the restaurant is, you can really see how popular they are! This is no hole-in-the-wall, no-name place, but its success is warranted. I made a reservation online for that night (it's very simple to do and definitely beats waiting), and by the end of the meal we already decided we wanted to return the following night.
One last word - I found the food spicy, which I love but is not the case for everyone. Perhaps it came as a shock to our taste buds after months of living in France where spicy dishes are hard to come by. Either that or it really was quite spicy (I imagine both were at play). My husband has an uncontrollable tendency to start hiccuping after eating anything very spicy, and two bites in the hiccups started. Oh how we had missed spice!
Nightlife in Shoreditch
5. Craft Beer at BrewDog Shoreditch
There are a bunch of bars in London featuring good selections of craft beer. BrewDog in Shoreditch became my personal favorite for its ambiance and its beer (Dead Pony Club is my drink of choice there). Go for a drink and stay to sample some solid BBQ brought to you from Texas Joe's.
6. Find Live music at Wilton's Music Hall
Wilton's boasts that it is "the world's oldest surviving Grand Music Hall and London's best kept secret." Hidden in a quiet residential pocket, you will be assured that you are lost until you suddenly stumble on this venue. As I mentioned in my Monday post this week, I was looking for something to do on a Monday night in London and read that the Basin Street Brawlers would be performing here.
Stepping into its cozy Mahogany bar, we certainly weren't the only people who managed to find Wilton's on a weeknight. We crammed in for the first set, where I got a seat front and center:
Check out some short clips I took that night on YouTube:
After a short break, the Basin Street Brawlers continued playing and the swing dancing started. (This is the second time living abroad that I felt the need to learn how to swing dance, the other time being in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Suggestions where to learn?!)
Check the schedule of events at Wilton's Music Hall and go for a fun night out!
PLAN YOUR TRIP:
STOP: for food/drinks -
Shoreditch location - 7 Boundary Street, London E2 7JE (also have a location in Covent Garden)
Open daily: Monday-Wednesday 8am-11pm / Thursday-Friday 8am-12am / Saturday 9am-12am / Sunday 9am-11pm
Breakfast served until 11:30am on weekdays and until 12pm on weekends.
83-89 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1JU
Open daily: Opens at 12pm - last order at 11:30pm
BrewDog's Shoreditch location - 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA (also have another London location in Camden Town)
Open daily: Sunday-Thursday 12pm-12am / Friday-Saturday 12pm-1am
Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
Open daily, 10:00am-5:45pm
Wander through the Columbia Road Flower Market (and explore the small shops on the street)
Columbia Road, London E2 7RG
Sundays only, open from 8am until around 3pm
See a live performance at Wilton's Mahogany Bar
1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB
Open: Monday-Friday 12pm-11pm / Saturday 5pm-11pm
Check their online calendar - usually events on Mondays
Any other suggestions to add for the Shoreditch neighborhood in London?