A blog embracing the open-air food culture, vibrant bars and markets of Camden & Shoreditch including an Alice in Wonderland themed rooftop bar and mysteriously located Magic Roundabout club event entered via a secret passageway in a London tube station.
The weather was beautiful in London this weekend and we even had higher temperatures than in Barcelona for a change, which is where one of my best friends now calls home and I’m always jealous of the seemingly never-ending sunshine. Those of us that call England home, know that we’ll only end up kicking ourselves if we don’t make the most of a sunny day as chances are it will be back to the glorious rainy weather we’re accustomed to before we can blink! With that in mind, me and my boyfriend Adam headed to London to explore Camden and Shoreditch. After seeing Craig David at KOKO Camden in March, we were keen to explore more of Camden and I hadn’t been to the markets since I was younger.
As soon as you step off at Camden tube station you are thrown into the buzz and eclectic culture Camden has to offer with its array of off-the-wall shops, stalls and bars. On a sunny day such as this, even when the market is busy it is still possible to meander the streets taking in all the smells of the worldly cuisine of street food and labyrinth of outdoor markets.
Camden really does have something for everyone and you are truly spoilt with the vast eateries on offer including Jamaican, Venezuelan, Polish and Indian dishes with many providing samples for you to enjoy whilst choosing where to eat. After what seemed like a lifetime, on our third loop around the food stalls we decided to opt for Belly n Bao, a cute stall with Vietnamese style lanterns and both ordered a sticky pork belly bun; which we devoured.
The Stables Market is a pretty outlet, great for hidden gems and I was chuffed with the selection of rings and unique clothes I purchased. I particularly loved the Turkish lantern shop and if I’d had my way we would have purchased the entire shop if it wasn’t for the pertinent issue of transporting the items home.
Cyberdog is a must for ravers with its UV paint and makeup, glow-in-the-dark t-shirts and looks great from the outside too.
After spending the majority of the afternoon browsing the markets we stumbled across Proud Camden and enjoyed some alcoholic beverages in their secret wonderland rooftop garden. The rooftop bar is decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme, complete with its own fake grass, rose bushes and staff in fancy dress. This unique bar had a great summer vibe with the Mad Hatter keeping the punters entertained while they were enjoying drinks including the £15 jug of pimms. The rooftop bar provided a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of the busy markets and is somewhere I would return on future trips to Camden, especially as they appear to have regular UK garage events. In all honesty we could have stayed in there all day…
We moved on from Camden to Shoreditch to check out the Urban Street Food Festival as well as the nightlife in this vibrant area. The Urban Street Food Fest was our first stop and was under a ten minute walk from Old Street Tube station. Similarly to the food stalls in Camden, an array of worldly cuisines awaited us and we opted for a Venezuelan chicken wrap which included spices mixed in with the chicken creating an infusion of different flavours. Before leaving to check out the events in Shoreditch we enjoyed a Nosteagia bubble waffle dessert with marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate sauce, which I can honestly say tastes as good as it looks!
Adam and I had dined on street food all day and the cost at around £30 between us meant that this was great for the wallet as well as our stomachs, giving us the opportunity to taste flavours from around the world and explore London without breaking the bank. Pop-up outdoor markets such as these enable London to embrace its multicultural communities and regional foods as well as act as great venues to try new things and socialise, particularly on warmer weekends.
On previous trips to East London, I have always ventured to the curry houses adorning Brick Lane when on a budget as many offer deals such as a main dish, a side dish, rice and naan for around £10 per person. If Indian cuisine is your food of choice, the curry houses are located around a ten minute walk from Shoreditch high street and I would recommend The Eastern Eye Balti house on Brick Lane as this restaurant not only has the £10 deal but also has a very cheap house bottle of red for the bargain price of £8!
Away from the markets and heading back towards Old Street station were a number of upmarket bars including the Hoxton, Shoreditch Grind and the Hoxton 7 which had a two for £10 cocktail menu until 8.30pm.
We were keen to check out an event we had seen on Facebook; Oscuro Summer Opening Party at The Magic Roundabout with the only difficulty being locating the secret entrance to the roundabout inside Old Street tube station. After circling the roundabout to check there was no access from the road and enjoying a drink at Shoreditch Grind, we finally managed to locate the entrance to The Magic Roundabout in a concealed passageway in the tube station. This open air bar located inside the busy Shoreditch roundabout was decked out in fairy lights with pallet decorated chairs and tables creating a rustic summer bbq vibe and despite the house music being played would be unbeknown to those walking the streets above. The drinks were more expensive than the prices we had paid throughout the day, which may make up for the obscure location though all in all this bar was a great find for our trip to the capital.
Well known for being the hub for music and art events in London, Camden and Shoreditch (Old Street tube station) are both Northern Line tube stops, offering a vibrant, eclectic, multicultural aspect of London with an array of unique bars, eateries and markets to suit every taste. Those who have read my London Lowdown review will be aware that I am dining at Gilgamesh located in Camden over the summer to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday, therefore check my blog for future reviews.