A Bloomsbury Life post yesterday about Denis Severs' house in Spitalfields brought to mind a WoI article of October 2005 about an East End of London cafe (pronounced caff) I've been meaning to visit since I read about it in WoI. We have a old friend living in Bethnall Green just around the corner from Columbia Market, who we have been staying with on visits to England these twenty years past and never once have we set foot in Pellicci's despite the number of times we must have walked past it.
The only reason I can think of is that we were either so focused on buying bagels in Brick Lane or finding Indian food down towards Spitalfields - the proximity of Spitalfields, when mentioned on A Bloomsbury Life, to Brick Lane is what brought this cafe to mind. I must tell you that the best bagels in world are not those from the 24-bakery in Brick Lane, though they are good, but from another 24-hour bagel bakery in Montreal which sits between the Hassidic and the Greek neighborhoods. However, the best Indian food, I would like to say outside of India but never having been there it would be foolhardy to make the claim, is found in Spitalfields - or at least it was. Food-faddies move around so much its hard to really care after a while what is the latest cuisine, what we used to call food. All migrants, don't you know, have certain dishes they must eat on returning to the homeland to retain a semblance of national identity: mine's pork pies and my other half's is fruitcake - this despite having a year-round supply baked at home.
I digress. Pellicci's which was founded in the East End over a hundred years ago has now got Listed Status, the equivalent of the Landmark Preservation Commission except that it has actual powers, and is one of only two caffs to achieve this. It is still owned by the same family, born above the shop, as it were.
The interior is covered in marquetry paneling which was made by a cafe regular, Mr. Capocci. He had presented a small marquetry panel as a gift to the then proprietress and from this gift came the notion of paneling the entire space. The paneling proceeded at a pace, enabling Mrs. Pellicci to make payment for each panel, apparently judged entirely by eye without first being drawn, as it was finished an installed.
On the menu when it opens at 6 am is full-English breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, blackpudding, strong tea with milk and bread and butter (at least, that is my estimation of what full-English means) and after breakfast steak pie, fry-ups and bread pudding amongst other delicacies. As I say, I've never been there, so I'm just romancing.
The inlaid linoleum logo in the floor.
Above and below, two archival photos of customers from the 1980s.
Behind the counter.
Catering licence from 1939 - the beginning of WW2.
Go here for more about this place.
Apparently, when first told of the Listed status for his establishment, Nevio Pellicci said, and I quote: "Fuck me, is that important?"
WoI photos by Tim Beddow.
B/W photos from here.