Next to the magnificent Toynbee Hall, on a busy corner of Petticoat Lane and Commercial Street, The Culpeper is a recent refurbishment of an old East End Spitalfields boozer. It’s now a brasserie style gastropub with stripped back oak doors, large industrial windows, reclaimed lighting, retro furniture, a long turquoise leather couch, and a zinc-topped central bar with ceramic beer taps – oh, and a rooftop veggie garden!
The chef Sandy Jarvis, previously at Terroirs has created a menu that’s a mix of traditional British and French, using seasonal ingredients.
We tried out the Sunday lunch this weekend after a shopping trip through Petticoat Lane market. Starting out with the complimentary sourdough and homemade anchovy butter, followed by a whole globe artichoke with a fantastic warmed crab butter to dunk the leaves in.
They only offer one Sunday roast – this week it was chicken served with red cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, roasties, a rich, fruity gravy and bread sauce (which I really can’t see the point of). The meat is from The Ginger Pig butchers – so, well looked-after animals and flavoursome meat, but I thought the portion was slight for £16 and would have been better value with some extra vegetables. There was one other meat dish and a veggie alternative.
The other foodie opted for the salt beef Pot au Feu (£14). We were expecting a rich meat stew having never had this dish before, but it turns out this classic French family favourite included 3 generous, thick slices of brisket with turnip, potatoes and spinach boiled in a light broth. It was served with a little pot of cornichon and fresh horseradish relish.
This is a lovely place for dinner, after work drinks, weekend brunch or Sunday lunch (you need to be early or make a reservation). It has a relaxed ambiance and efficient, friendly staff. There’s a couple of real ales on tap, a wide choice of bottled, local-sourced craft beers, and a long wine list but the soft drinks choices are a bit limited. The total lunch bill with drinks and service for 2 was about £50 – reasonable for the inventive cooking and the quality ingredients in this tourist-heavy area of the East End.
40 Commercial Street