The Gastropub is a London invention. It is part of the upgrade from “wet” pubs which served nothing but liquids such as beer and whisky (and maybe a packet of crisps or pork scratchings or peanuts if you were lucky) to where we largely are today where most pubs have upped their food offering – sometimes just a burger in a bun with ready made chips (fries in American) – but especially in central London to something with gastronomic pretensions but at affordable prices (including pints of beer should you want). For the pub, food is also more profitable than “wet”.
We went to the Culpeper in Shoreditch. This is a much changed pub – originally it was the Princess Alice when it was very wet; then for a short period (of shame perhaps) it was The Darts. Now it is named after the 17th century writer Nicholas Culpeper, an astrologer/botanist best remembered now for his Complete Herbal. (or should that be Compleat?)
It’s a very traditional pub and has kept its ambiance – except it’s table service only now (thanks to Covid) – and the food offering is far from the norm. We went on a Sunday – you have to book especially if you are a large group – when the menu is dominated by the classic Sunday Roast.
We started with a plate of Artichokes (battered and really nice) at £4.00 and an Onion Bhaji at £4.50 (where they had kept the lattice work so it was not just a lump of onion infused batter as so often) . This was enough to share among five adults (plus two children who were more interested in eventually going to the nearby Football Shirt museum and shop).
Everyone opted for Sunday Roast. There was no children’s menu but the kitchen had no problem in dividing a dish into two.
The choice was limited to beef (£20) chicken (£18.50) and vegetarian (£15.50). So no pork or lamb but this place only serves what can be found locally and some meats are absent.
The dishes were served with loads of vegetables – cabbage, parsnip, carrot, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes – more than enough for almost anyone. These are included in the price – not some extra as in “better” restaurants. Everyone ate everything – it was excellent.
There was beer (at least four varieties about £6.00 a pint) and wine (around £8 for a glass that is one quarter of a bottle).
Because we were greedy (and in the interests of scientific research) we shared some puddings -(around £8.00).
The Culpeper also has an upstairs restaurant where some prices are a little more expensive.
Weekdays, the menu changes. It’s a short menu focusing on hearty dishes such as pies and fish and chips. But whatever day you go, it’s worth it. And afterwards, you can walk one way to the aforementioned football shirts or the other towards Liverpool Street and the cast elephants – all of whom (the real ones) were rescued over the past few years.
40 Commercial Street
London E1 6LP
Telephone 020 7247 5371
Nearest stations– Aldgate East/Aldgate/Liverpool Street.
Find out more details on the official website