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Restaurants, Cafés Whitechapel

Time Out says

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The outer edges of the City keep going up in the world – literally, if developers win planning permission for a new row of skyscrapers on the old Bishopsgate Goodsyard. But just a short walk away down Brick Lane there’s still grime under the fingernails of Whitechapel. Crossrail is coming though, and some reckon this’ll be the next bit of the East End to smarten up its act. The team behind Grounded must have their fingers tightly crossed.
On the ground floor of an ugly office building, next to a betting shop and a strip club and overlooking the rough sleepers in Altab Ali Park, Grounded is hardly what you’d call well situated. And yet it’s managed to turn a former wholesale clothes shop into a New York-style brunch spot. There are communal tables, bar stools and banquettes, wire racks full of deli items. Best of all, when we went at least, there was no background music. It’s a very nice place to be.
Sadly, the dishes didn’t quite live up to the aspiration of the interior. Poached eggs, sourdough toast and crushed chilli avocado came (in this order) overdone, over-tough and tasteless. Mushrooms on toast were only slightly better, though matters were redeemed a fair bit by the buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries and crème fraîche. Service could do with a rethink too: you have to order at the counter, but that isn’t made clear (the next table waited a good five minutes before being told by the waitress). Even then, things are slow. Our coffee had gone cold before the eggs arrived.
Style over substance? For now, yes – but the coffee’s good, and you’d have to walk a long way to find another café interior like this. We’ll give Grounded the benefit of the doubt, but if Whitechapel does start losing its edge then this little independent will face stiff competition from the big boys of brunchtime.


Address: 9 Whitechapel Rd
E1 1DU
Transport: Tube: Aldgate East
Price: Meal for two with hot drinks and service: around £30
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