Places To Eat In London: The Stable, Whitechapel
I have found my current favourite pizza in London, and it is not where you’d expect to find it: thin, crisp pizza base lovers this one is for you. For the two years of my university degree I completed in London, I lived in Mile End, which I really disliked, which was a short walk from Whitechapel, which I disliked almost as much. However, one of my old university friends and I (who I dragged back to our old stomping ground to find that rumors of gentrification had greatly been exaggerated) have found an utter gem in the form of The Stable, the London outpost of this West Country inspired pizzeria and cider-house which is both utterly unique, and the best reason to hop on the tube (or the 20 bus) to Whitechapel/ Aldgate East.
A former club, the space is huge, so you can be sure of getting a table. There is also a big bar at the back, so if you’ve got a bit of a wait for a table on your hands, you can grab a cider based cocktail while you wait. I had a cider based gin and tonic, garnished with lime and thyme, which was rather refreshing, and with just a hint of cider flavour – a great way to get a taste of the cider The Stable prides itself of if you’re not a massive cider drinker, like me (more on that later). My lunch date is always one for whiskey based cocktails, and I think he was equally as impressed with his apple heavy number. They’re both something different, and yet another reason to head over for a couple. I think I’ve said this recently, but as I write so many London food reviews these days, it takes something rather unique to make a place stand out for me.
With our drinks we went for a few things to share: Dorset cured meats (air-dried pork loin and coppa) with homemade cucumber pickles, and a round of garlic bread. The meats were good, and a nice thing to pick at if you’re a big group (order a couple of boards, perhaps including their West Country cheese board), but the star of the show was their garlic bread. Made on one of their crisp, light (but somehow also still soft) pizza bases, it was light, buttery and full of flavour, without being at all greasy, too strong, or too much. I’m usually not one to order garlic bread as a habit as I find it too much, but this one was just perfect.
So, onto the cider. Now, I am aware the fact that I don’t really like cider is somewhat sacrilegious. People cringe when I say it just tastes like gone off apple juice (which, let us be honest, it really is), and add to it that I’m from Kent, one of the homes of English cider it just sounds plain wrong. I’m typing this while on the train to Somerset, for crying out loud!
Anyway, in spite of my saying to our server I’m not a big cider fan, he insisted that we try two cider flights (they do them with different ciders each day, with five different 1/3 pint servings for £8), because I surely must find something I liked there. And, surprisingly, apparently I do like cider. I just only like certain types of cider. So, a few cider tasting notes for your visit to The Stable. If they have any of these on, even if you’re not usually a cider drinker, if you’re not brave enough to go for a flight, give one of these a try:
- Alton Keeved (4.5%): This cider is made like champagne, so bubbles pleasantly on the tongue.
- Beesting (7.5%): This is actually a perry, made with pears, so it is a lot lighter than a cider. It was my favourite of the bunch, very refreshing.
- Rapscallion (6.5%): For you if you like a sweeter drink, a bit more like a juice. Very fruity.
- Lilley’s Mango (4%): This one actually is fruity, because it is sweet mango flavoured. But, nothing like those artificially fruit flavoured, mass produced ciders I can’t usually stand.
- Cornish Blush (4%): Along with Beesting, the most drinkable of the bunch, very mild, slightly fruity, but not so light it does not have character.
Shall we move on to the pizza? Now, shoot me if you will, but when piles of salty anchovies and soft, fragrant cloves of slow roasted garlic are not involved, my favourite thing to have on a pizza is ham and pineapple. Okay, I said it. It’s been my favourite since I was a kid, it still is, so obviously I was pleased when I found a smoked ham and fresh pineapple pizza on the menu, with the option to load it up with avocado slices and chilli. It is not traditional, but it does not mean that it was not bloody excellent, perfect specimen of a pizza.
My date went for the special: The Ali Baa Baa, a Middle Eastern-inspired pizza loads up with tomato sauce, spiced lamb kofta meatballs, feta, oregano, red onion and mozzarella. It looked bloody amazing, and judging by this, the monthly specials at The Stable are well worth a shout. This months is called The Monk-y Business and the trailer for it on their Instagram is illustrated by a fish, so monkfish maybe?
I was rather full by this point, but both the staff and my companion insisted on dessert. He had the brownie, served with a choice of clotted cream and vanilla ice cream (I tasted a bit, warm gooey and perfect. The brownie was as perfectly executed as the pizzas), and I went for another pizza: who can resist a Nutella pizza? I’ve had a few of them in my time but this one had been really thought out with a balance of flavours in mind (rather than the usual method of loading as much Nutella onto a warm pizza base as possible!), the Nutella was drizzled, with spoonfuls of rich, light mascarpone dotted in between, with a generous sprinkling of chopped roasted hazelnuts. I managed about 3/4 of this myself before I had to give up, but seriously, even if you think you’re full by this point, order one for the table to share.
The Stable genuinely is one of the best meals I’ve had in London in a long time in the casual dining category, so I urge to to carve out an evening or a weekend to head on over. And, for my readers outside of the big smoke, seek them out in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth, among others. You can find a full list of their locations here.