Much like its culture as a whole, British cuisine is a smorgasbord of influences from around the world. Street food is by no means an exception – the likes of Mexican-inspired tacos, Americanised beef burgers, and Indian roti are consumed on the streets of London everyday.
But with this grand tapestry of cultures comes one drawback – while there are some good examples, traditional British fare (think pies, pasties, and toad-in-the-holes) isn’t too well represented in the street food scene.
That said, London’s arguably Europe’s epicentre for street food, and has some of the best food you can find outside the restaurant to show for it.
BURGERS MEET FINE DINING
If that was ever hard to believe, have a look at what Duck n’ Roll are doing. Pascal Aussignac, chef-patron behind the fine dining Franco-oriented Club Gascon, wanted to bring his famous duck confit out of his Michelin-star kitchen and onto the streets.
While it may sound daring, it’s a natural evolution of what he does, and Michelin-grade food is that much more accessible because of it. Check out Pascal’s duck burgers for yourself at Duck n’ Roll’s Camden Market outpost.
Duck n’ Roll
As far as burgers go, Bleecker Street fairly unanimously do one of the best burgers in London, whether you’re in, or outside of, a restaurant. Much like the best fine dining institutions, Bleecker are respectful of their ingredients – they use rare-breed, pasture-fed beef, typically dry aged from 40 to 50 days.
What you’re left with is a rugged and intensely beefy flavour that, as many have said before, will ruin every other burger you’ve had.
Spitalfields and Victoria
BRITISH…WITH A TWIST
As noted earlier, British cuisine isn’t easy to find in street food. Though there are some notable exceptions. One of them is MyPie.
Chris, the man behind it all, learned his trade – and the skills that go with it – as a pastry chef in Australia, only turning down the opportunity to go Michelin-trained because it wasn’t sustainable.
Here he takes a British staple, applies classical French haute cuisine techniques to it, and dishes the results out the back of a former Bedford ice cream-style van.
Broadgate Circle and Paddington
The Roadery also lends classical British food a twist, but this one’s a bit different. Nose-to-tail cooking, as pioneered by the also London-based Fergus Henderson, is in full force here: take the ox tongue ‘braco’ (British taco), for instance, with its crispy sous vide ox tongue, clementine salsa, wild blackberry hot sauce, and foraged mint yogurt.
Or the pig cheek bun, with its West Country cider-braised pork cheek with pickled fennel and foraged nettle pesto.
Brand new to the street food circuit is Meat The Chef. Having spent 24 years in professional kitchens – and with 3 AA Rosettes to show for it – Christian knows more than a few things about fine dining.
Perhaps the beauty of Meat The Chef is their sheer versatility, with dishes from anywhere around the world, be it North America (Philly cheesesteak), China (Shanghai-style pork belly), or Morocco (Harissa-scented lamb).
Meat The Chef
HAUTE PATISSERIE ON THE STREET
Le Choux’s Abigail Scheuer has a background pastry cheffing at Alain Ducasse’s 3 Michelin star restaurant at the legendary Plaza Athenee in Paris. Now, she sells her ‘petit choux’ buns on the streets of London.
This requires hand-piping creams into each of her choux buns, as she would when she worked in a Michelin star kitchen, to help give her choux the aesthetic you’d expect to see at a fine dining establishment.