Wednesday 29 December 2021

Meals On (Two) Wheels: The Full Monty

A culinary wonder in London’s East End

It’d been a while since I’d gone on one of my long cycling jaunts around London. This time around, with the temperature reaching the late 20s (really, September? I thought you were supposed to usher in autumn), I decided to tour the Magnificent Seven. These are seven, Victorian-era cemeteries built on the outskirts of the capital to ease the overcrowding of the existing burial grounds at the time.

I knew I was looking at a 30-mile-plus journey, so stocking up on good, belly-filling food was essential. My first stop was at one of my favourite cafes in London, The Full Monty.

One of the elements The Full Monty (formerly known as The Workers’ Café) has in its favour is its location. It sits far enough from the overpriced restaurants and eateries in Shoreditch, Hackney and Hoxton. Yet, it’s not off the beaten track completely. Situated on Globe Road, it is right next door to the London Buddhist Centre. East End legend, Ray Winstone was born in nearby Plaistow. West Ham United Football Club’s London Stadium is roughly ten to fifteen minutes away on two-wheels.

I was feeling hungry. The ride from Abney Park (where I’d started my seven-cemetery tour) had worked up an appetite in me. I’d have usually gone for the full English, but this time I opted for the full veggie instead. I wasn’t disappointed.

A generous portion of mushrooms, with fried eggs and tomatoes, two hash browns, one vegetarian sausage and two pieces of toast was all I needed to refuel. I belong to the “really well done” brigade, so I chastised myself for not telling the lovely and smiling staff to cook my egg well. Still, it was nice.

Having lived in London for close to 24 years now, I’m always on the lookout for local characters. I’ve never been afraid to strike up conversations with complete strangers, especially when these interactions help me understand an area’s culture better. On this occasion a man turned up dressed in a suit, waistcoat, shirt and tie. He also wore smart shoes. Despite the already-rising temperature, this gentleman seemed at ease with his choice of wardrobe. The way he just strolled into the café, sat at a table and shot a cursory glance at the menu, told me he was a regular. Later on, as I was unlocking my bicycle and getting ready to go, I noticed that he, too, was a cyclist. His frame was parked next to mine. Although we did exchange a few pleasantries (he was having a smoke outside), only when I was riding towards Tower Bridge later on, it occurred to me that I could have stayed behind a while longer and found out a bit about his life.

The total bill at The Full Monty came at £6.50. A snip when you have similar establishments just a mile and a half away, on Cambridge Heath Road that will charge three or four quid more for a similar meal. Although I didn’t have any beverage this time, I’d strongly recommend the mocha here. I’ve had it before and it’s the way I like my mochas: strong (double shot of espresso) and milky. I’ll certainly come back to The Full Monty again. And this time, if Mr Dapper-Man-on-a-Bicycle happens to be there as well, I’ll have my phone ready. There are some stories that need to be recorded and told.

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  1. I am already looking forward to hearing Mr Dapper's story. Your breakfast sounds pretty good too - though it would be a big evening meal for my slothful self.

  2. Converting your £6.50 to Cdn is $11.22 which is cheaper than a decent breakfast here. I think I paid ~$15 recently, and then there is tax. In fact two takeout order of onion rings, not all that large, just cost me >$10.

  3. I would love to visit The Full Monty, if they have any vegan options, that is...

  4. And when I see the sign that points one way
    The lot we used to pass by every day
    Just walk away, Renee

    Whoops .... sorry, the sign distracted me and I was trying to be clever ....

    Interesting observations, CiL ....

  5. Hi ACIL - what a great cafe to know about ... though when I'll get to London town again is another matter. I do hope you can catch your 'regular' once more and tell us his story ...

    Those graveyards did not match up - eventually they built Brookwood cemetery - from Waterloo where The Necropolis Railway company ran its trains out to Woking and the cemetery ... the golfers hitched a lift - cheaper tickets! I wrote about it in 2011 - cheers Hilary

    Happy New Year and all the best for 2022 ...

  6. That meal seems a good price, and it looks good :)
    My good wishes for 2022, hard to believe that it's already mid-January.

    All the best Jan



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