Poppies  (9384 views)

When Rossi's café in Hanbury Street - longstanding purveyor of Anglo-Italian carbs - closed in 2010, it seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of the Spitalfields that was. The market now looks like a PFI elementary school; porters have been replaced by hipsters; and it's easier to get an artisan sourdough loaf than a full English round there. But Poppies is shaping up as a worthy replacement for the East End caff that preceded it. Unlike many restaurants in the area, Poppies isn't a concept dreamed up by a branding exec in Hoxton; it's run by Pat 'Pop' Newland, a time-served fryer who began salting and battering in Roman Road in 1953. He's come out of retirement to launch this venture, and with its location, design and food, it skates a perfect line between pukka and posh. There's nothing to alarm the traditionalist looking for a no-frills fish supper, but the carefully considered '50s interior will appeal to local trendsetters seeking an authentic backdrop for their haircuts. A wallpaper border is decorated with translations of Cockney phrases ('apples and pears: stairs', etc). No sign of 'Berkeley Hunt' or 'cobbler's awls', though - perhaps they're behind that restored 1958 jukebox. Ignore this cynicism. What is good news for East End incomers and incumbents alike is the fish fresh from Billingsgate (cod, haddock, rock, scampi, halibut - all sustainably caught, we're told), the perfect batter, the hand-cut chips, the free-range chicken, the home-made tartare sauce and mushy peas. You can sit in - table service is provided by sharply dressed, authentically amiable Italian chaps, although on our visit they could have been a bit sharper in performance. Further incentives: there's wine by the glass, Meantime beers and Fentimans bottled soft drinks, if a cuppa doesn't do it for you. Prices, too, are decent given the quality of the food. Poppies is already busy, even midweek, and rightly so. It's a Spitalfields restaurant and takeaway with heart, and anywhere that helps rescue East End fryers from the horror of spicy wings is to be applauded.
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Location of Poppies
6-8 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
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