Having free rein to eat whatever you like in a building packed full of some of London’s best street food? The excitement of the very idea is too much to bear, which probably explains why I was looking forward to Feast in the way that most children look forward to Christmas Day. Feast is, quite literally, a food bonanza. Held in the historic Tobacco Dock, a 19th century warehouse in Wapping with beautiful vaulted ceilings, it brings together both the great and the good of London street food, but also several London restaurants selling street-food versions of their best dishes.
We arrived on Saturday night and quickly started thinking tactically. Not only had we starved ourselves for the entire day to ensure we could eat as much as possible, we even took a tour around the space before jumping in and buying anything to figure out in which order we wanted to do this. You could say that we have far too much time on our hands, but eating without abandon is the main hobby in our household. After some drinks at the bar (a bottle of Meantime for Ollie and a glass of white for me) we had a plan formulated, so with stomachs rumbling and mouths watering, we were ready to go.
#1: Cheeseburgers from Elliot’s Cafe
We have been big fans of Elliot’s Cafe ever since it opened in Borough Market a couple of years ago – I’ve even had two of my birthday dinners there. What I love about it is that they seem to tap into the idea of seasonal food and rustic cooking whilst still making it spectacular. The majority of the food served comes from Borough Market and local outlets, such as Neal’s Yard cheese and New Forest cider. When Elliot’s first started making burgers, everybody went nuts for them, not just because they suddenly became the craze of 2011/12, but because they were outstanding. It is easy to see why they consistently come top of the ‘Best Burger in London’ polls. At Feast, Elliot’s were selling miniature versions of their cheeseburgers – a perfect appetizer to start the evening. High quality steak patties in a seeded bun with oozy cheese and amazing dill pickles. I could have scarfed about nine of them in one go. Delicious.
Elliot’s Cafe is situated in Borough Market and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
#2: Fish Finger Sandwiches from Fishdogs
I am no stranger to Fishdogs. In fact, I see them just about every Saturday morning when I am stumbling around Brockley Market looking for something to feed my hangover. They have taken the simple fish finger sandwich and pimped it to the max – breaded and fried local white fish in a sub roll with minted mushy peas and amazing tartare sauce. This will usually do the trick and have me feeling better within minutes. A couple of weeks ago, I tried their sweet offerings for the first time – interestingly titled ‘dog nuts’ are a small box of churro-esque doughnuts with a sadistically sweet salted caramel sauce. It was a pretty decadent thing to eat so early in the morning, but we loved it so much, we argued over who got to drink the last of the sauce. When I got home later, I found I had it in my hair and in my scarf. At Feast, we tried a miniature version of the fishdog – a sandwich so small and cute it made me feel like I giant. I devoured the whole thing in four bites but enjoyed it immensely.
I was so excited I didn’t take a photo – sorry!
#3: Nduja Pizza from Pizza Pilgrims
I have always thought that I will not be able to call myself a connoisseur of London’s pizzas until I visited Pizza Pilgrims. I have been to the good, the bad and the ugly of pizza joints in the city, but have somehow never made it to their spot in Berwick Street Market (probably because I work in the gastronomic wasteland of W12). As soon as I saw their van, I knew that there was no way I would be leaving Feast without a pizza. By this point in the evening, we were through the stage of eating mini appetizers and were now seeking some seriously sizeable food. Pizza Pilgrims were offering four pizzas at Feast: Margherita, marinara, nduja and artichoke heart. Ollie had long since been seeking a chilli hit so we plumped for the Nduja. Five minutes or so later, we were tucking in with gusto. The nduja was perfectly spicy and the tomato sauce so flavoursome we both agreed that it was one of the best pizzas we’d ever had – and we’ve both been to Italy several times. If I could have managed another one, I would have.
Pizza Pilgrims can be found at Berwick Street Market.
#4: Flat Whites from Caravan
After wolfing down mini burgers, mini fish finger sandwiches and spicy pizza, we decided that it was definitely time to break and have a coffee. I had spied and smelled the Caravan coffee stand on our first walk around and made a mental note of its location for my mid-way pick-me-up. Being from south-east London, most of the coffee I drink tends to be Volcano or Dark Fluid – it’s just what tends to be sold around here, so it was nice to branch out and have something different. Caravan have kitted out the basement of their Exmouth Market restaurant into a coffee roastery and roast small batches of beans daily to ensure their coffee is always fresh. I like the smokiness of this coffee, it had a strong flavour without any bitterness. Due to the size of the queue at Feast, I imagine I wasn’t alone.
Caravan has restaurants in Exmouth Market and Kings Cross.
#5: Five Spice Pork Belly with Warm Asian Salad from Miss Manchu
Now fully caffeinated, I was craving some vegetables. Most street food, in line with the gourmet junk food ‘trend’ often puts these quite far down the agenda save for some salad in a burger or cabbage in a slaw. Luckily, I had seen a rainbow of veg on offer at Miss Manchu, so this is where we headed to next. In amongst the fried meats and brioche buns, they had some delicious looking Asian salad ingredients which would be lightly pickled, and tossed together with one of three ingredients: Hainanese ginger chicken, lemongrass beef or five-spice pork belly. We made a beeline for the latter and perched ourselves down on a small table to clear out the box with our chopsticks. Deliciously sweet-spicy pork belly with shredded cabbage, coriander and some rather tangy pickled carrots. I loved it. The two ladies on the stall were so friendly too!
Information about Miss Manchu is available here.
#6: Chipotle Brisket Burrito from Luardos
As we walked into Tobacco Dock, Ollie declared that he would not be leaving this event without eating a burrito. Like many of our friends, he has a burrito obsession which, I think, stems from the time he spent travelling around the US. He is on a constant quest to improve his slow-cooked brisket and even has a burrito map of London. When we finally found Luardos nestled in amongst some other stalls, he declared, with a half-smirk that a burrito-loving friend of his would be “so jealous” and dug out his iPhone to take some pictures. Luardos is another Brockley Market favourite that I go back to time and time again. I get a little flutter of excitement when I see the bright pink van and think that they sell some of the best Mexican food in London – I am especially fond of their breakfast burritos. They had a number of options on offer at Feast including a five-meatball burrito, made in conjunction with The Bowler, only for the very ambitious or those that had not already devoured five other dishes. We opted for the chipotle brisket burrito with extra guacamole. Beautiful smoky soft meat, coriander, punchy salsa and delicious avocado. I ended up with burrito juice all over my jeans, but it’s not really any fun unless somebody gets a little messy.
Luardos can be found at Brockley Market and Whitecross Street Market.
#7: ’The Special’ from Meringue Girls
As stuffed as we were after eating all of this food, there was always room for dessert. Even if it meant that we would be spending the remainder of the evening laying down somewhere in a food coma, we were determined to do it. Dessert stands were not as plentiful at Feast as their savoury counterparts but it didn’t take us long to seek out Meringue Girls – they were right next to the band, after all. Some strange logic in my head told me that a meringue was perhaps the perfect dessert to have following the extreme overindulgence of the past few hours – something to do with the airiness, maybe? However, when they handed me a tray filled with meringues, marshmallow, chocolate, salted caramel, hazelnuts and pistachios, I knew I was completely mistaken. It was utterly delicious, a perfect combination of crunch and sticky sauce – if there was a way to end the evening, this was it. I would have liked to be able to buy some meringues to take home, especially their gin and tonic and hot cross bun varieties, however we had arrived too late in the day and instead had to be content with little tasters which, of course, were delightful.
Information on Meringue Girls can be found here.
As you would imagine, we left Tobacco Dock full and gushing wildly about everything we ate. It would never be possible to do so, but there were so many things I wish I had tried – the five-meatball burrito from Luardos, for example, and the lamb raan bun from the Dishoom stand – one of my favourite restaurants. I would have loved to have sampled the pimped mac ‘n’ cheeses from Anna Maes or the Reuban sandwich from Mishkins, and desperately wanted Ollie to sample the Tantamen ramen from Bone Daddies that I ate in their restaurant a couple of weeks ago. It’s not worth event trying to eat everything there, there is far too much and this food is London-based after all, so there are other opportunities to get hold of it, but it is worth trying as many things as you can. Go large or go home.