In his third instalment on London’s best budget restaurants and cafes, Tony Naylor goes west, in search of a great breakfast, superior snacks and unexpected gastronomic bargains
• See our interactive map of Britain’s best budget restaurants
• As featured in our London city guide
• If we’ve missed your favourite tell us on our blog
As you would expect from a graduate of Fergus Henderson’s St John, chef-owner Tom Pemberton specialises in common-sense cooking. His kitchen works diligently to extract maximum flavour from often neglected ingredients (skirt steak, mutton, mackerel etc) and Pemberton tries to keep the prices down accordingly. At £13, the two-course set lunch is excellent value, but with this feature’s self-imposed £10-a-head price limit in mind, the express lunch (£9.50 for a daily changing no-choice main course, a glass of wine and coffee) is an absolute steal.
Every May, Gypsies flock to the French seaside town of Saintes-Maries, for a festival in honour of a black Madonna – the Gitan Pilgrimage
Here they come now, two rows of men on white stallions, wearing black hats and carrying lances, providing a guard of honour for a squat statuette wrapped in gold cloth. Surrounding the horsemen are thousands of people, many cheering and chanting “Vive Sainte Sara!” Musicians play bursts of flamenco guitar or squeeze Hungarian melodies out of accordions. The horsemen and the crowd head towards the sea, seeming to move as one, suggesting a mix of religious procession and party. And that is exactly what this Felliniesque scene represents.
Every 24 May the small seaside town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer hosts the Gitan Pilgrimage. This legend of St Sara accompanying St Marie-Jacobé and St Marie-Salomé when they arrived here from Palestine (so giving this former fishing town its name) dates back to the 16th century and the pilgrimage is a unique opportunity for Europe’s Gypsies – largely drawn from French- and Catalan-speaking communities – to come together and affirm their faith and culture. And party hard.