Page 0024

22 | squaremeal.co.uk

W

hen I moved to London

in the late nineties, t he

words Brick Lane meant

only one thing: curry.

The nearest you would

get to eating breakfast on

the street was stumbling out of the 24-hour

Beigel Bake in the early hours of the morning.

But fast-forward to 2015 and breakfast has

become Brick Lane's most famous meal ever

since Cereal Killer Café was targeted by

anti-gentri„ cation protestors in September.

Personally, I „ nd it absurd that anyone

would pay for something they could

reproduce exactly at home without any skill.

The notion of handing over £3.50 for a large

bowl of Frosties breaks one of my golden

rules of restaurant-going - to never order

anything I could have knocked up myself.

(Porridge Café isn't on my to-do list either.)

It's easy to mock Cereal Killer's owners,

Alan and Gary Keery, twin brothers who look

straight out of an ad agency casting for a pair

of Shoreditch hipsters, from

their bushy beards and

lumberjack shirts to their

tattoos and tortoiseshell

glasses. It's also tempting

to indulge in some easy

moralism at their expense:

the brothers own a café

specialising in a basic foodstu”

that you can buy in any supermarket

or corner shop and they sell it on at a huge

mark-up in a borough where 50 per cent

of children live in poverty.

Absurd Cereal Killer Café might be - and

decadent if you're feeling judgemental - but

the Keerys didn't deserve to have their

business and customers attacked, 'scum'

painted on their windows and death threats

left on their phones by a group called Class

War, whose rallying cry is 'we don't want

pop-up gin bars, we want community'.

I can't help feeling that Class War is missing

the point of the East End, where community

has always meant welcoming newcomers

such as the Keery brothers, who grew up

in Belfast. And newcomers bring their taste

in food with them. Brick Lane's Beigel Bake

recalls the area's Jewish history and its curry

houses are a reminder of the Bangladeshi

population who moved to east London in

the 1970s. Before Soho had its Chinatown,

Chinese restaurants set up shop in

Limehouse to feed sailors hungry for a

taste of home. Hipsters, the latest arrivals,

clearly have a taste for breakfast cereal.

Gentrifi cation

It's sad that restaurants have become something

divisive. One of the joys of sitting down

to eat with other people is to feel nourished

emotionally as well as physically. And yet the

Class War protestors who feel shut out by the

gentri„ cation on their east London doorstep

have an equivalent in the many food lovers

for whom parts of central London are now an

eating-out no-go area thanks to restaurants

priced for the international super-rich.

In the same way that I „ nd it absurd that

anyone would queue to pay £3.50 to eat a

bowl of cereal, my eyebrows shoot up when

I see fried squid on a menu for £22 - as it is

at Estiatorio Milos, a new Greek restaurant

in St James's from a group with outposts in

other glitzy honeypots such as Miami and Las

Vegas. But when I visited on a Friday night

the place was packed with a globetrotting

clientele who have no problem paying that,

just as there are those happy to queue for

Cereal Killer. Neither restaurant is my cup

of tea - but they may very well be yours.

It's a mark of the success of the London

restaurant scene - and the prosperity of

the city - that groups such as Milos see

a presence here as not just attractive,

but essential. But whatever your price point,

you have to be good at what you do.

Le Chabanais, funded by Indian investors,

was a ¢ op because the rough edges of its

Paris parent Le Chateaubriand had been so

smoothed out that it felt like just another

upmarket Mayfair restaurant - and we have

enough of those already. In contrast, Cereal

Killer's clientele seems jolly pleased with it.

Like all the best ideas, it provides something

obvious that we had no idea we needed.

What's more, one person's gentri„ cation is

another's regeneration. The team who helped

make Dalston a foodie destination with Street

Feast, likewise put Lewisham on the map this

summer with Model Market:

never had a night out in SE13

seemed so alluring. Similarly,

the Kerb market at King's

Cross has given vibrancy to

what could have been a

sterile development, as well

as giving the area credibility

as a restaurant centre,

allowing the likes of Dishoom and Grain Store

to ¢ ourish. And Hackney Council has had an

explicit policy of improving east London by

welcoming restaurants, with the result that

the area is now the most exciting and

innovative place in the capital for eating out.

I suspect the Keerys may have the last

laugh: the brothers have already opened a

second branch in Camden and they may well

become as ubiquitous as Starbucks. I still

won't go if one opens at the end of my road,

but I'll be glad it's there all the same.

CLASS WAR IS MISSING THE POINT OF THE EAST

END, WHERE COMMUNITY MEANS WELCOMING

NEWCOMERS … AND THEIR TASTE IN FOOD

Paying over the odds in a restaurant, whether for corn� akes

or fried squid, is a personal choice and it certainly shouldn't

invoke the riot police, says Square Meal's editor WORDS BEN MCCORMACK

food for thought

ILLUSTRATION: GEO PARKIN

Index

  1. Page 0001
  2. Page 0002
  3. Page 0003
  4. Page 0004
  5. Page 0005
  6. Page 0006
  7. Page 0007
  8. Page 0008
  9. Page 0009
  10. Page 0010
  11. Page 0011
  12. Page 0012
  13. Page 0013
  14. Page 0014
  15. Page 0015
  16. Page 0016
  17. Page 0017
  18. Page 0018
  19. Page 0019
  20. Page 0020
  21. Page 0021
  22. Page 0022
  23. Page 0023
  24. Page 0024
  25. Page 0025
  26. Page 0026
  27. Page 0027
  28. Page 0028
  29. Page 0029
  30. Page 0030
  31. Page 0031
  32. Page 0032
  33. Page 0033
  34. Page 0034
  35. Page 0035
  36. Page 0036
  37. Page 0037
  38. Page 0038
  39. Page 0039
  40. Page 0040
  41. Page 0041
  42. Page 0042
  43. Page 0043
  44. Page 0044
  45. Page 0045
  46. Page 0046
  47. Page 0047
  48. Page 0048
  49. Page 0049
  50. Page 0050
  51. Page 0051
  52. Page 0052
  53. Page 0053
  54. Page 0054
  55. Page 0055
  56. Page 0056
  57. Page 0057
  58. Page 0058
  59. Page 0059
  60. Page 0060
  61. Page 0061
  62. Page 0062
  63. Page 0063
  64. Page 0064
  65. Page 0065
  66. Page 0066
  67. Page 0067
  68. Page 0068
  69. Page 0069
  70. Page 0070
  71. Page 0071
  72. Page 0072
  73. Page 0073
  74. Page 0074
  75. Page 0075
  76. Page 0076
  77. Page 0077
  78. Page 0078
  79. Page 0079
  80. Page 0080
  81. Page 0081
  82. Page 0082
  83. Page 0083
  84. Page 0084
  85. Page 0085
  86. Page 0086
  87. Page 0087
  88. Page 0088
  89. Page 0089
  90. Page 0090
  91. Page 0091
  92. Page 0092
  93. Page 0093
  94. Page 0094
  95. Page 0095
  96. Page 0096
  97. Page 0097
  98. Page 0098
  99. Page 0099
  100. Page 0100
  101. Page 0101
  102. Page 0102
  103. Page 0103
  104. Page 0104
  105. Page 0105
  106. Page 0106
  107. Page 0107
  108. Page 0108
  109. Page 0109
  110. Page 0110
  111. Page 0111
  112. Page 0112
  113. Page 0113
  114. Page 0114
  115. Page 0115
  116. Page 0116
  117. Page 0117
  118. Page 0118
  119. Page 0119
  120. Page 0120
  121. Page 0121
  122. Page 0122
  123. Page 0123
  124. Page 0124
  125. Page 0125
  126. Page 0126
  127. Page 0127
  128. Page 0128
  129. Page 0129
  130. Page 0130
  131. Page 0131
  132. Page 0132
  133. Page 0133
  134. Page 0134
  135. Page 0135
  136. Page 0136
  137. Page 0137
  138. Page 0138
  139. Page 0139
  140. Page 0140
  141. Page 0141
  142. Page 0142
  143. Page 0143
  144. Page 0144
  145. Page 0145
  146. Page 0146
  147. Page 0147
  148. Page 0148
  149. Page 0149
  150. Page 0150
  151. Page 0151
  152. Page 0152
  153. Page 0153
  154. Page 0154
  155. Page 0155
  156. Page 0156
  157. Page 0157
  158. Page 0158
  159. Page 0159
  160. Page 0160
  161. Page 0161
  162. Page 0162
  163. Page 0163
  164. Page 0164
  165. Page 0165
  166. Page 0166
  167. Page 0167
  168. Page 0168
  169. Page 0169
  170. Page 0170
  171. Page 0171
  172. Page 0172
  173. Page 0173
  174. Page 0174
  175. Page 0175
  176. Page 0176
  177. Page 0177
  178. Page 0178
  179. Page 0179
  180. Page 0180
  181. Page 0181
  182. Page 0182
  183. Page 0183
  184. Page 0184
  185. Page 0185
  186. Page 0186
  187. Page 0187
  188. Page 0188
  189. Page 0189
  190. Page 0190
  191. Page 0191
  192. Page 0192
  193. Page 0193
  194. Page 0194
  195. Page 0195
  196. Page 0196

Related Issues