Liberty Cheesesteak Company, Spitalfields Market

Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, birthplace to a nation and home to the Liberty Bell (made round the corner from LCC in Whitechapel!), Rocky Balboa and to rich culinary and ethnic traditions that spawned the famous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich.  The humble Cheesesteak, developed in the early twentieth century, quickly became the food of the masses and ultimately an icon of Philly culture.  It is synonymous with the city, its people and history.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company, Spitalfields Market

While there is no shortage of American food in London, Liberty goes beyond superficial Americana, it focuses on sharing Philly culture through the iconic and with highly sought after sandwich made of bread, steak, onions and secret recipe cheese, known as ‘Wiz’.

A whole Philly Cheesesteak from Liberty costs £8, and half costs £5. Other Philly classics on offer include South Philly Style Italian Roast Pork sandwiches, Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak and, for dessert, ice cream sandwiches and Philly style Cannoli, pumped with ricotta filling right before the customer for freshness.  Gluten free options are also available.

London’s first full time real Philly Cheesesteak retail experience can be found at ‘Love Park’ on the Lamb Street entrance to Spitalfields market, seven days a week or ordered for delivery across London via  Take Eat EasyDeliveroo and Jinn.

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The Culpeper, Spitalfields

culpeper 1The Culpeper is my new favourite pub in East London. This upscale Spitalfields venue has it all. A stylish restaurant with mouth-wateringly good gastropub food, a sunshine soaked rooftop garden and BBQ area and soon, 5 bedrooms will be finished for guests who wish to stay a little longer.

The gorgeous Victorian building had a long life as a Truman’s pub, the new owners have preserved the historic features but added some chic contemporary features. Parquet wooden flooring, industrial style lighting give a trendy elegance while shabby miss-matched chairs and stools add character to the room. It is a lovely big space that I can imagine gets extremely busy on Sunday lunchtime.

In the kitchen Sandy Jarvis cooks up seasonal British delights, crowd-pleaser recipes with a focus on great flavour. Instead of trying Jarvis’ celebrated menu I wandered upstairs to the roof in search of the BBQ. It was a scorching hot day and the roof was full of sun worshippers, slurping refreshing cocktails and indulging in grilled meat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food we tried was simple but delicious. Merguez sausages are a must, intensely spiced with a hint of charcoal smokiness, they cost just £4 for two sausages. They were so good we had to order a second portion! Pork Chop was tasty too, though once the fat was removed there wasn’t a huge amount of meat left to fight over. The Chimmichuri sauce is particularly delicious with the pork. Of the vegetables I would recommend Romanesco, a cauliflower like vegetable that has the prettiest edible flower buds. The peppers with anchovies and green salad were nice accompaniments with the BBQ-ed meat too.


Desserts here are not just an afterthought, as they are in many pub establishments. Roast peach with crème fraiche & ginger biscuit crumb was a soft and subtle summer hit. A lovely caramelised cooked fruit with contrasting cream and a crunch from the crumb. Strawberry Eton Mess is a more obviously British recipe, and The Culpeper do a great rendition.

Sitting amongst the vegetable garden on the Culpeper roof is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a sunny Saturday in London. Book ahead as there are already a few locals who call this place home.

More information on The Culpeper here.

Taberna do Mercado, Spitalfields Market

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Nuno Mendes is a quiet chef, so it probably came as quite a surprise when his kitchen at Chiltern Firehouse became the loudest, most talked about restaurant in London. As the hype begins to settle at the Marylebone establishment, Mendes is focusing his efforts on a new venture in Spitalfields Market.

Taberna do Mercado is a simple and unassuming eatery serving authentic Portuguese fare. It features recipes that Mendes remembers from his childhood from the south-west region of Alentejo. The restaurant is happily found in the busy marketplace, and with no reservations, it immediately evokes a very different feel to Chiltern Firehouse. Diners here are patient foodies rather than pushy celebs visiting for all the wrong reasons.

It is a modestly designed venue with distressed wooden floorboards, circular marble tables and whitewashed walls – a minimalist combination that instantly encourages a relaxed Mediterranean vibe. There is a kitchen inside and a live station outside. Here the stoves are expertly managed by head chef Antonio Galapito, who has worked with Mendes for years.

From the paper menu clipped to our table we chose a selection of tasty tapas style plates. I fondly remember the wisps of runner beans in batter, so light and moreish. Prawn rissoles were delectable parcels of tiny spicy prawns with a crunchy edge. There is a whole section of the menu devoted to the house-tinned fish, which is receiving rave reviews from fish fans. The plates of meat and cheese are particularly delicious paired with a glass of Portuguese wine, great for a light early evening snack. If you want to try something very traditional, opt for the Alheira sausage which has a consistency similar to ‘nduja but tastes quite different. Made with a mix of meats and bread it has a rich flavour but a rather stodgy texture, very tasty but unlike anything I have tried before.

Bifana is popular meaty snack in Lisbon, a crusty bread roll filled with thinly cut pork steak and mustard. It is the Portuguese version of a bacon bap and it is equally satisfying. It seemed a bit random amidst our meal, but I could imagine relishing this sandwich on a Sunday morning.

Desserts are unusual and daring. Abade de Priscos and port caramel is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Made from a mix of egg yolks and pork fat it has a smooth texture and toffee taste and is served in a pool of sweet port. The olive oil cake also looked intriguing, I am keen to try it on my next visit.

Mendes can often be seen wandering calmly around the venue. It is a different man to the one I saw looking stressed in the famed Marylebone restaurant. Here he presents a cuisine he is sentimental and proud about and that love shows in the vibrantly flavoured food and charming atmosphere in the dining room.

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