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28 December 2016 On a shoestring

London has been an international city for a long time. With that comes an ever-changing array of menu options, flavoured by the world around it. 

On any given day, you can sample food from a different corner of the world. But this post isn’t going to be looking at the finest or the most expensive, but rather the places that real honest Londoners go back to time after time.

A good spot to start any eat like a Londoner post would be at the beginning, because, well, why not?

The true Londoner food has to be pie and mash. This classic comes soaked through with liquor, a green gravy that traditionally is made with the cooking water for another culinary East End treat to come later. The cooking liquid is mixed with parsley to create its distinctive colour and basted over your pie to create a deliciously filling, cheap meal.

That other delight we mentioned is the rather unappetising jellied eels. We said you’d eat like a Londoner, we didn’t say you’d enjoy it. These eels are cooked in water with vinegar and then left to cool and become gelatinous in their own juices. Jellied eels can be found in any self-respecting pie and mash sop, the most famous of which is M. Manze’s. Drop in for a taste of the food and a tale or two about the history of this iconic London staple.

Moving into the modern day, the three staples of a cheap and decent meal, possibly after having consumed a couple of beers just like a Londoner, are the kebab, the curry and the chicken shop.

Now, as with anything in this city there are the good, the bad and the truly heinous. Now we don’t know what depths you’re willing to plumb but we would highly recommend avoiding the really heinous spots out of any of these. They’re not hard to spot; the dank lighting, the tired looking menus and the stale greasy smell should be a dead giveaway.

Here we offer you the best of the bunch to be found in London.

Kebabs 

The days of the doner as the perfectly poor post-pint meal seem to have passed. We now have a plethora of stunningly tasty and perfectly prepared kebabs to tuck into, without the guilt. The best bit about it is, they’re all great value.

The 2016 British Kebab awards for best value kebab was awarded to Selale Restaurant found in Harringay. Eat for much less than a tenner and whilst there take a walk up and down Green Lanes (the road the restaurant sits on), this is a heavily Turkish area so expect some great options for sweet treats and shisha after dinner.

 

Curries

To talk about curries in London and not mention Brick Lane would be a travesty. Now, while there are some good options to be found, you’re really on a race to the bottom as each restaurant tries to lure you in with the promise of even more, and cheaper food than the last.

Eschew the bright lights and head around the corner to Fieldgate Street, where you will find Tayyabs. This venue offers a bustling and brash kind of eating experience. Expect long queues, speedy service and strong flavours. Opened in 1972 the place has gone from strength to strength, slowly enveloping the pub next door.

You’d be crazy not to book in advance as without a booking you could be waiting for up to an hour for a seat. A booking will reduce that wait to about 10 minutes. The corkage free bring your own booze policy only helps the boisterous atmosphere.

Go for the dry meats main for a classic of the east London institution, which is just a short journey from our Old Street hotel.

 

Chicken Shops

This is the other staple of the London fast food scene. Chicken shops number roughly 8,000 in the capital. That means there’s a lot to explore, that also means there will be a lot of dud ones. So pick wisely. Luckily this young scallywag, who goes by the name of the Chicken Connoisseur has made it his mission to review the chicken shops in London town.

The thing with chicken shops is they are very regional. Those in the south swear by Morley’s. Those in east will lay their life on the line for Papa’s. As an objective observer, we have gone for Billy & The Chicks. It’s taken the humble fried chicken and made it a strong square meal.

 

If you’re in the capital on a culinary tour of the city, you should consider a stay in one of our cheap rooms in London, this way you’ll save a pretty penny on accommodation and put that to good use on an extra meal or two.

A summer in Rotterdam

April 2016 | On a shoestring, City in the spotlight, Insider’s Guide

Summer is a time for scuttling off to find a new adventure in some faraway land. Whilst many will head for the pearly beaches and bright lights of the Mediterranean, others might favour a city break. Cue Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second city with a buzzing summer events calendar that can be juiced to the max without breaking the bank. Over the centuries the city has spawned humanist philosophers, radical designers and avant garde architecture as well as boasting a neighbourhood that’s literally synonymous with Cool.