There is much more than just a quick bite to be found at Giant Robot.
Street Feast’s Canary Wharf venue is not only its first all-week opening but is home to a variety of traders- each with stories to tell.
From a former racing car driver, to a half Japanese radio producer and a father-of-two who gave up his job in finance, we talk to the foodies following their dreams.
Owner Lisa Meyer has been with Street Feast from the start, when it was just a few traders in a carpark in Hackney.
“It has been great growing with them,” said the 33-year-old. “Canary Wharf is very different but this is a really iconic space and its very exciting to be here. It’s a chance for us to set down more permanent roots.”
Her Lunchtime Bun Box for £9 with tow rolls and salad is aimed at office workers who want “exciting food quickly.”
The Stoke Newington cook started the business in 2010 in Hackney and has branches at Street Feast’s part-time Hawker House and Dinerama venues in Canada Water and Shoreditch respectively.
“I saw the buns in a cookbook my brother bought me and thought they were amazing. I started a stall as a fun idea and it just took off and has had a life of its own, so I gave up my day job as a radio producer after a year.
“My mum is Japanese, although this is more fusion, and I have always loved cooking.”
Her milk-based steamed bread is served with pan-Asian fillings such as slow roast pork with hoi sin sauce, cod from Billingsgate Market with green chilli and coriander and lime samba and mushrooms with sweet miso glaze and toasted nuts.
“This will be a place we test lots of new buns and some new deserts,” said Lisa.
“We are going to try and develop our vegetarian and pescatarian offer as I think more people are looking for food like that.”
It was while racing around America Matt Harris first fell in love with barbecue.
He was trying to fulfil his dream of getting into Nascar but instead discovered the food of the Deep South.
After losing his sponsorship he returned home to England and recreating the meaty dishes with his own twists became an obsession.
“Basically my hobby of cooking barbecue with modern techniques just got really, really out of hand,” said Matt.
He started up BBQ Lab in 2013 and brought a food van to Wood Wharf two years ago.
He said: “That was intense but I have fond memories of it as it was the first day I could pay my rent through what I made.”
He went on to win WingFest 2015 with his fiery Chipuffulo Wings and decided to refocus his business to cope with a boom in their popularity.
He has relaunched in Canary Wharf as Thunderbird with a focus on their most popular dish – fried chicken with wings costing £8 and a big bucket £20.
The 30-year-old from Dalston said: “We have now come back focused on doing the best fried chicken we can, wings and buckets and taking classic inspiration and adding our own twist.
“I’m loving this venue so far. I don’t think there is anything like this anywhere.”
He plans to collaborate with British chef Gizzi Erskine on a limited edition wing later this year and will have a menu of dishes that changes seasonally.
Six years ago Rod Dann used to visit Canary Wharf in a suit for his job as an asset manager.
Now he is back-clad in an apron to launch the first permanent site for his burgeoning food business.
“The industry is my passion – at first I went back to New York to go to French culinary school but then came back to London,” said the American born entrepreneur.
“I set up Bedales wine bar and shop in Borough Market and the lobster came about as a craving I had from my time in New York and also to offer a delicious lunch that would air well with the 600 types of wine we had.
“My philosophy is great value ingredients but in a casual setting. Lobster is the most extravagant thing on most menus but I wanted to make it super casual and fun.”
The 34-year-old started Bob’s as a food van in Borough Market in July 2013.
He went on to add two more trucks, has hosted pop-ups at Ascot Racecourse, John Lewis, Taste festival and Lulu Guinness fashion shows and plans to open a permanent restaurant in London Bridge this summer.
In Canary Wharf you can buy dishes such as Baja Fish Tacos for £8.
But you won’t find a price next to the lobster roll on the menu, only the initials MP, as the father-of-two wants to educate people about the UK seafood industry.
“We sell at market price,” explained Rob who sources a lot of ingredients from neighbouring Billingsgate Market.
“Providence matters a great deal to me, 90% of seafood here goes overseas and I don’t think a lot of people know how good it is.
“So while it is in season we source it locally and price it to reflect the fluctuating market so we can talk to people about the industry.”
Spanish chef Jose Pizarro has opened his fourth restaurant here, serving up dishes that will be exclusive to the Crossrail Place venue.
They include an Ibérico Pork Meatball Sub with Manchego Cheese for £8.50, a crispy fried squid sandwiches with aioli for £8, spicy prawn fritters with lime mayo for £6.50, side dishes of patatas bravas for £4 and a daily-changing tortilla for £4.50.
José learned his trade at restaurants such as Eyre Brothers, Brindisa and Gaudi before opening his first solo restaurant José Tapas Bar in Bermondsey in 2011, followed by Pizarro Restaurant and José Pizarro Broadgate.
He become involved in Street Feast as he is a member of London Union, a company founded by Leon’s Henry Dimbleby and Street Feast’s Jonathan Downey to help food entrepreneurs.
Little José will also serve drinks including cava, wines, sherries and Jose’s perfect gin and tonic.
360 Island Bar
As well as serving drinks, bartender Angelo Fierro shows off some pretty impressive skills with a cocktail napkin, flipping it through the air and then gliding it underneath a Negroni Sbagliato
He worked in Covent Garden and Shoreditch before arriving in Canary Wharf.
“For me it is strange as everyone sort of looks the same,” he said. “But they are really nice and friendly.”
The 25-year-old from Stratford said the Paloma cocktail made with tequila and fruit juice was his pick of the menu as it had the most flavour.
Goose heads, superhero statues, gratified cans and 38 beers on tap can all be found behind the counter.
They include a Flatiron Red made by Fourpour Brewing co in Bermondsey.
But bartender Adrien Lameye said for him the Peanut Butter Milk Stout from Tailgate Beer in Tennessee was the most unusual offering.
“I have never seen it anywhere else in London,” he said. “It really does taste like peanut butter.”
It might not be the taste that makes your eyes pop though as a can of this will set you back £8.
Their strongest drinks is an 8.1% summer/blanc double sour from Chorlton Brewing Co.
There’s no name yet for this tiny hut where you can buy a choice of espresso for £2.20, Americano for £2.80 or tea for £1.50.
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