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.