Crispin, Spitalfields: Simple, Seasonal, Small Plates

where to eat in east london Crispin Shoreditch

It’s embarrassing but I managed to get lost on the short route from Liverpool Street Station to a birthday lunch with friends at Crispin in Spitalfields. I blame Google maps, which took me through multiple back streets then told me I'd arrived, when clearly I hadn’t. However, on the plus side I got to weave my way around one of my favourite parts of East London. It’s worth walking along Artillery Passage, a narrow 17th-century walkway so slender the houses nudge towards each other at the top, (then) you'll spot the all-day-dining cafe across the road from Ottolenghi's East London outpost.

 Looking like a sharp-angled gallery or groovy library, Crispin also celebrated its birthday (first, not 50th like me) and I can’t find a review that doesn’t salute the food or the attention-grabbing geometric glass and zinc building (the Gherkin, eat your heart out).

 Naturally, such an angular space isn't easy for seating 40 covers, so inside it’s a little cramped with Habitat-ish furniture and house plants, but if diners minded it wouldn’t be full on a Thursday lunchtime. I like space so I sat at one of the outside tables in the autumn sun waiting for my friends. 

The only near-complaint was the service, which began cool but warmed up. I don’t want someone fussing over me with a napkin, just friendly helpfulness. Although our waitress turned out to be charming, so I’m retracting the moan.

The small plates that crowded our table were chosen from a brief menu of simple-sounding dishes so full of flavour you wish you had ordered more. A lot of love is created by the bread, so unless you have an allergy, this is not the place to worry about eating too much. Doorstop-thick hunks from Dalston’s Dusty Knuckle bakery brushed with butter then toasted on the grill are a thing of pure joy. We ate them with everything, from prettily arranged slithers of smoked salmon with capers and dill, £7, to milky bulbs of burrata,  scarlet wedges of Heritage tomatoes, £9, and tortelloni filled with creamy asparagus and pecorino, £9.

My friends are generous women, even so we made sure to divide everything equally, three ways. With food this good, you have to. Puddings include tea-time cakes. We shared a well-made banana bread but the rich, gooey almond brownie was the winner hands down. Like Crispin, it was small but perfectly formed.

 * Crispin, Spitalfields, Pavilion on The Corner, White’s Row, London, E1 7NF; bookings@crispinlondon.com  Greater Anglia runs regular services to London Liverpool Street. Adult single fares from £5, children travel for £2 with an adult and under fives travel for free. Tickets can be bought online from Greater Anglia or via the Greater Anglia app.

where to eat in East London Crispin Spitalfields
Where to eat in East London Crispin Shoreditch