L Randolfi's: East End stalwart still standing proud on the Roman Road

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Located at 508 Roman Road (the eastern end, where the street market begins), L. Randolfi's is a bruised peach of a place.

Other than the two excellent local Pie n' Mash shops, it's pretty well the only pleasant local eaterie left in a long, noxious stretch of sub-KFC, u-PVC outlets that are infested with whelping chav-scum.

It's easy to miss Randolfi's as you approach the grim tat of Roman Road market.

Its metal exterior is admittedly rather ugly (the frontage actually used to be a classic Pellicci-style Vitrolite job until a car accident decades ago necessitated a complete exterior rebuild), and the nasty early 70s logo is somewhat off-putting.

But ... on no account overlook this fine remnant. Randolfi's has been on this spot since 1906, and something of its early twentieth century ambience can still be conjured up over the constant flow of teas and coffees.

Though a sandwich/bagel only caff, the smart marble Victorian tables, magnificently worn Thonet chairs, Vitrolite-panel ceilings, early 20th century cabinet shelving behind the counter, and the brilliant shack-like rear-section are all worth closer attention.

This shack section is particularly remarkable: a spruce Formica breakfast-bar runs around flesh-colour painted woodpanel walls.

In the ceiling, an old winding-mechanism window splashes second-hand daylight off the period wall mirrors.

A dozen well-shined 1950s counter stools are bolted into the cracked marble floor...

In the main front section, some original coloured neon strip-lighting remains over the counter, and ice creams are still served from a front hatch onto the street.

The sesame bagels are firm and crunchy, and the lovely minimalist cup n' mug sets come in two exquisite non-standard sizes. What a treat!

Michael and Gino who run the ship (Linda on the teas has been a fixture for 15 years) maintain a friendly, happy, down-home gem of a place on the verges of the increasingly fashionable Bow Quarter. The house standard greeting 'yes, young man' always feels particularly welcoming.

Randolfi's: all local; all the time. And all the better for it.

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