It wasn’t all that long ago that casual food options in the Square Mile started with the word ‘meal’ and ended with ‘deal’.
A convoy of food trucks might roll in every couple of weeks offering fleeting respite from the grab-and-go chains, but no sooner had you queued for the better part of your lunch hour for an £8 falafel wrap and the trucks were headed back to Hackney, leaving only the lingering smell of chargrill in their wake.
But change is afoot in the City dining scene; Soho hotspots like Temper and Blacklock are establishing Square Mile offshoots, and the arrival of private members club The Ned in May brought with it no fewer than nine new restaurants to the old Midland Bank at Bank Junction.
This growing number of high-end dining destinations taste better when consumed on the company credit card, but your egg and cress sarnie is also undergoing some serious changes with the opening of a brand new pop-up food hub in Broadgate Circle.
Finsbury Avenue Square has become home to a stellar line-up of independent street food operators, which have taken up residence in purpose-built shipping containers. The pop up eateries, which will remain in place until late 2018, were brought in to inject new life into the windswept thoroughfare while British Land revamps offices at 1 Finsbury Avenue.
Alice Keown, F&B asset manager for British Land, said the hub was part of an effort to establish Broadgate as an emerging weekend and evening destination, capitalising on its proximity to the City and Shoreditch nightspots. “We are really excited that we have the opportunity to work with these young, energetic, creative operators at a relatively early stage in their development, and expect them to flourish at Broadgate,” she said.
Here’s your guide to what’s on the menu:
There’s always room for one more wolf in the City, particularly one spruiking the same all-day Mediterranean-style dining made popular by its Stoke Newington original. WOLF II starts early with takeaway superfood pots with quinoa and avocado, and ‘piggy sausage rolls’ with a parsley dressing; or you can dine in on wild boar waffles with fontina cheese. Lunch is fresh pasta and deserts, followed by plates of aperitivo from 5pm, including Fritto Misto with black garlic mayo and baked Fontina cheese.
Baba G’s Bhangra Burger
Burgers and curries have always stood on opposite sides of the household takeout argument, that is until streetfood stalwart Baba G’s brought them both into the same food truck. The Brixton-founded pop-up has won legions of fans with its Indian-inspired burgers and sandwiches, from the lamb jalfrezi to the chicken tikka masala served in a black onion seed brioche bun. Sides include pachos (popadom nachos) and masala fries, and there are also healthier veggie and vegan options like butternut squash and chickpea curry or pomegranate salad.
Yolk was born of what the owners call “a longing for the perfect eggs Benedict” for breaky that somehow evolved into a line of very non-boring baguettes and sandwiches for your lunch hour. ‘Perfection’ takes the form of poached eggs, 24-hour ham hock, hollandaise and cayenne pepper all wrapped up in a flavour-packed pot that is worth setting the alarm early for. Lunch brings with it the steak bearnaise sandwich with bavette steak, brown butter bearnaise, caramelised onions and rocket. Or the confit duck bun with applewood-smoked aioli and duck skin crackling. Or the parmigiana toastie with aubergine, mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, and roast tomato jam. Lucky there are five lunches in the working week.
If placing deli meats and cheeses between two slices of bread were an art form, then Sub Cult founders Ben Chancellors and Gaz Phillips would surely be rubbing shoulders with Picasso. The pair created the pop-up lunch spot in the noble pursuit of creating London’s best sandwich and have succeeded, according to Time Out, with their range of US-style subs. Signature combinations include the Skandi Sub – oak smoked salmon, peppered cream cheese, Parma beetroot kimchi, lemon, dill – Sub Contractor – smoked back bacon, white pudding, free range egg – and The Rodeo – rare roast beef, truffle mayo, Grana Padano, shallot jam, and pickled serrano chilli. As with all masterpieces, the secret to success lies in the perfect canvas; a soft deli-style roll, freshly baked to a secret bagel-brioche dough recipe for perfect consistency.
There’s plenty of fish in the street food sea, but crustaceans can be harder to come by this far from salt water. Claw is seeking to change all that, demystifying shellfish making it more accessible to the masses. Sustainably-sourced crabs and crays are stuffed into pillowy soft brioche rolls and drizzled with lemon mayo, while diced Hampshire trout comes in the form of a poké roll with horseradish créme fraiche. Go healthy with seasonal crayfish or lobster salads, or don’t and get stuck into a raclette cheese and crab toastie or crab-loaded fries.