5th June 2012
Eating out has taken on new meaning in the past two years, as an exhilarating street food scene has gripped the capital. The Good Food Guide went along to King’s Boulevard in regenerated King’s Cross on a rainy day in May to check out Eat.St, the original street food collective, indulge in a little curbside dining and find out more about the movement.
Co-founders Petra Barran – a street vendor herself – and Giles Smith launched Eat.St in 2009 with the laudable aim of giving food vendors on the street a collective voice and ‘driving street food forward’. Thirty-eight traders (and counting) have been carefully selected for their quirkiness and bravura, but above all for the superb quality of their food. Forget dodgy hotdogs, these vendors are selling far finer grub; budget friendly movable feasts from all corners of the globe.
At Eat.St’s permanent base on a brand new boulevard in King’s Cross, a rotating team of vendors pitch up four days a week. Turn up with a hungry belly and you might find Vietnamese baguettes made to order by the BanhMi11 crew; savoury or sweet ‘firebread’ pizzas from the two girls at Well Kneaded Ltd (how they fit a wood-fired oven in that van, we just don’t know); Korean Kimchi Sliders that have food bloggers and street food fans all hot under the collar; handmade churros fresh from the fryer with dark Spanish dipping chocolate, or a touch of southern comfort by way of Anna Mae’s Smokehouse - her pulled pork sandwiches are fast becoming legendary.
As they become destinations in themselves, the most successful of roaming vendors are seeking more permanent residencies, while established restaurants are in turn taking to the streets with their own brands of gourmet grub (Pearl’s Jun Tanaka and Bea’s of Bloomsbury will both be pitching up at food markets this summer). This democratisation of food culture, and an increasing sense of humour about what – and how – we eat, are beginning to make an indelible mark on the city’s foodie scene, with collectives such as Eat.St making eating out on the go an altogether brighter prospect – and a wholly appropriate and imaginative response to these tough economic times.
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