5 Meals For A Fiver: Bethnal Green
There’s imported formaggio, fella-filled cafs, and fantastic Bangladeshi food in Bethnal Green. Here’s how to spend £5 in E2.
A fiver, like Gary Lineker’s politics and 10pm bedtimes, tends to feel quite reasonable. Especially when it’s for a meal and not a sharing plate consisting of one borlotti bean that went to Steiner school. That’s why we’ve started a 5 For A Fiver. Because there are plenty of brilliant and generous eating options within the realms of £5 across London, you just need to know about them.
Bethnal Green’s 5 spots are around Cambridge Heath, along the Roman Road, and, of course, from the always-buzzing Bethnal Green Road. This is a bit of east London that’s as good for curries as it for heading to a jewellers and eyeing up something with carats. And until you walk up the Shoreditch end, there isn’t a Brewdog in sight.
Your £5 Options
Your order: Curry and rice (£5)
E. Pellicci is probably the Bethnal Green Road’s most famous eating landmark, but Indian Masala next door deserves just as much attention. A portion of homemade house ‘chicken curry’ with rice from this lowkey Bangladeshi restaurant is reasonable in cost and generous in flavour. The meat, moist and off the bone, is covered in sauce heavy with cardamom and curry leaves, and it’s a solid meal to have in or takeaway. Alternatively you can get a couple of vegetable curries instead. The only problem? Resisting the enormous tray of homemade bhajis and pastries as you order.
The Green Truffle
Your order: Panini (£5)
I hope you’re humming Panini by Lil Nas X right now. In fact I need you to, because that’s what I do inside The Green Truffle, an unassuming and brilliant Italian deli on the Roman Road. Most recently it was as I crunched into my scamorza, mortadella, and marinated artichoke creation. The lyrics went something like: ’Hey panini, you’re tasting pretty creamy, thought I wanted you to go but now I’m glad I ate you sitting.’. It’s not my best, I know, but the produce in here is. Choose from bresaola, multiple salami varieties, mortadella and a whole load of other meats to pair with smoked provolone, scamorza, and all varieties of formaggio. Choose wisely and hungrily, and get ready to fight the urge to come back here immediately.
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Your order: Vegetable and aloo-stuffed paratha (£2.50)
Pedants look away now because, yeah, Al Amin is technically more Cambridge Heath, but you should know that it’s worth walking for. It’s a cosy evening-only white table cloth Bangladeshi restaurant that you should really sit down in. But if you’re on the go, it’s well worth getting a paratha to take with you. A portion of gently spiced vegetable and aloo-stuffed buttery flaky flatbread will set you back a few quid. You can get keema as well, but we prefer the vegetable combination.
Your order: Chicken escalope sandwich (£4.20)
Like all landmark restaurants, E. Pellicci is split between old-school locals and nervously smiling newbies, the latter eyeing up dustbin lid-sized sandwiches with equal parts interest and terror. The hand-breaded chicken escalope one is our go-to. For starters, all its angles and measurements are on point. The chicken is often too big for the bread that’s failing to contain it, blobs of melted cheese hang down, and it is undoubtedly a two-hander. Whether you get tomatoes or peppers in is up to you. On a Monday lunchtime we’re partial to straight beige with a squeeze of ketchup on the side.
Your order: Bacon, egg, chips, and beans (£5)
A proper workers’ favourite, the Arches is a friendly caf tucked under Bethnal Green Overground that is seemingly required, by some unwritten social law, to always have at least two people eating a combination of pig and yellow runny eggs. And you should be one of them. Like any good caf, your choice is up to you, but being proud heathens, a plate of bacon, crispy chips, a pool of baked beans, together with a runny yolk is a combo we find hard to turn down.