Tuesday, 19 December 2017

London: Leadenhall Market - History or Pizza or Both

I was recently invited to try out the Pizza Express in London's Leadenhall Market in the East End.  The event was a pizza making evening with a group of bloggers and we made great tasting individually personalised pizzas.  I was really happy with the final result of my pizza
and along with delicious and famous dough balls
+
for starters and a glass or two of chilled Prosecco had a really fun evening.

Pizza Express was first started in Soho in London's West End in 1965 on Wardour Street.  Founder Peter Boizot never realised how popular this endeavor would be and I am sure he never envisioned one of his restaurants being in the historic heart of the East End of London - Leadenhall Market.

From the outside the Pizza Express looks warm and cosy but doesn't look like there is a lot of dining space however downstairs they can seat 125-130 people (covers) in the recently renovated basement area. The space is spacious with lots of little areas that can be quite private if you wish. If the weather permits there is also seating for another 22 outside.
Parties are well catered for and there are sofas and booths to give a new cosier atmosphere.
The renovations were carried out with extreme simplicity and care.  The building is a Grade II listed building which means no structural alterations can be made and anything done must be done with utmost care. In many cases removing old lighting and repositioning it highlighted the beautiful brick arches.
The walls have photos and memorabilia from the days when Leadenhall Market was a poultry and meat market as the photo below shows rows of turkeys and chickens hanging up for sale.
On the ground floor there is a beautiful wrought iron spiral staircase which leads upstairs to a private meeting area perfect for a lunchtime business meeting!
The spiral staircase is quite narrow however due to the Grade II listing they cannot change it so they keep this space for the meeting room.
Looking down stairs from the open wrought iron railing the decorations are simple but inviting you to keep looking around.
I love to be a fly on the wall looking at fellow diners and wondering who they are, what their relationships are and why they are here the same time as myself!
Around every corner there is something to catch the eye, something to make you stop and spend a moment or two to enjoy.
Leadenhall Market has a lot of history - owned and managed by the City of London Corporation since 1411 and was an important market to many of the East End residents.  Although originally a Roman settlement it wasn't until 1411 that Dick Whittington (remember Puss in Boots!) acquired the lease of the building quickly leading it to become a major meat and fish market.

After parts of the market were destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 along with much of the city it was quickly re-built. In 1881 the stone structure buildings were replaced with wrought iron and glass and given the Grade II listed status it still holds today.

Today Leadenhall Market is a popular and modern retail centre - Pizza Express opened it's doors there in 2001.  Original features of the meat and poultry market can be seen outside the restaurant.  Samuel Pepys, who also frequented the market area said "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life." This is how I feel about London these days and I really appreciate the chance to discover these areas and facts around them.

I was invited to review the Pizza Express at Leadenhall Market. I was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photographs are my own.  No photographs may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

My friend and fellow blogger Nayna from Simply F00D was with me at the event.  Read what she thought of it by clicking here!

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