Lunch in The City Part 1: Verde & Co.

In the wasteland that can be The City lunch experience, I have discovered a few choice locations to help ease the monotony of Prets and EAT.

The first is Verde & Company in Spitalfields, conveniently located about a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station at 40 Brushfield Street.  It makes for a nice little walk to clear your head from that stale office air and fluorescent lighting.  From the outside, it’s not entirely clear what it is – gourmet food shop? chocolate store? maybe possibly some lunch? – but with a line out the door you know it must be good, which is how I discovered one day back in February, wandering the neighborhood in search of something from a non-chain restaurant.  I’ve been a convert ever since.

Verde specializes in salads and sandwiches – the menu is the same for both, it just comes on top of a green salad with sunblush tomates, or between two pieces of bread (brown, white or baguette).  Depending on size and ingredients, they run 5-7 GBP each.  You can also mix and match ingredients to make your own.  Highlights include suckling pig with piquillo peppers, bresaola (which I usually pair with fresh mozzarella) and smoked chicken with guacamole (and bacon if you’re lucky!).  The salads are served with vinaigrette dressing ladled out of a large olive oil tin with the top cut off.  They also serve two homemade soups every day – recently tomato and piquillo pepper served with fresh basil and parmesan – and mini-quiches, as well as an assortment of Bakewell tarts, brownies and other goodies.  There is also a fridge with Pellegrino and Panna water and a selection of fresh juices.

bresaola and mozzarella sandwich

Most people get it to go, but you can also eat in at the handful of high chairs dotted around the tiny interior of the shop.  And if the weather’s nice you can sit outside on one of their bench seats with convenient little table-trays built in for your lunch or coffee.

Pretty much everything you see in the store is on sale – the homemade marmalade on that shelf over there, the fresh pasta in the window, the wooden tea caddy, even the silver teapots.  There’s actually a good selection of specialty and gourmet items – mostly Italian – and they usually have some fresh produce for sale.  The cherries and peaches in the summer were to die for.

The seating area

Jam for sale

But best of all is the Pierre Marcolini chocolate.  If you’ve never had it, you are in for a treat.  Based in Brussels, he makes a range of yummy truffles as well as sinfully rich chocolate plaques (they aren’t really bars) that come in all different chocolate flavors (Zimbabwe, Cosa Rica, etc.) They don’t come cheap but they are worth every penny.

The Chocolate

And to fortify you for the long afternoon at the office that now lies before you, grab one of their fab coffees on the way out.

Vital Statistics:
Location: 40 Brushfield Street, E1 6AG London
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
Prices: £7-10 for a salad or sandwich and a drink

Check out Lunch in The City Part 2: Street Kitchen