Established in 1974, to serve the then first generation of Bangladeshi, Punjabi and Indian immigrants working and living in London, Meraz Cafe is one of London's oldest and most respected Bengali restaurants.
Over the years, as the community settled and planted roots in London and as the reputation and awareness of "Indian" restaurants spread, the Meraz has seen its clientele blossom from young single factory workers hungry for traditionally cooked snacks, lunches and meals to today's multi-cultural, diverse and discerning patron.
Today Meraz serves customers from all walks of life, from keen connoisseurs looking for something more authentic to busyoffice workers in the City doing lunch at a place that they can rely on.
Meraz still retains an affection for its established customers, indeed they can often be seen sitting and enjoying the Meraz taste most days, as well as a deep interest in the community, working with local bodies to try and preserve the history and charm of Brick Lane as the Cross Rail project came into being.
The Meraz philosophy has not changed, it remains one of respect for cooking tradition, from which is born a consistency and an aversion to fads that is greatly appreciated by all. A respect for the patron's palate and comfort, innovating and striving to bring the best in service, atmosphere and presentation, and a passion for introducing Handi Cooked Foods to an ever growing audience.
Steer off Brick Lane for this bargain eatery
You’d be ill-advised to eat on Brick Lane, if you haven’t already been put off by the persistent touts who stand at the entrances of restaurants, whose purpose is to persuade naïve tourists to part with their cash for “Indian” food of questionable quality. Meraz Café doesn’t have this problem, as it’s on Hanbury Street (directly opposite the surprisingly still popular vintage boutique Blitz) and gets by without needing a tout. In fact, this Bangladeshi café was one of the first eateries of its kind to open in the area, back in 1974. It’s not an exaggeration to say that part of Brick Lane’s glorious reputation for Bengali food (which remained until the late 90s) stems from the opening of this humble café. It’s also seen incredible changes over the last 40 years, from feeding the first wave of Bangladeshi immigrants, who inherited the textile jobs previously held by the Jewish residents, to today’s fashionistas and City workers, who fill the streets like mist on a winter’s day. Meraz is cheap and cheerful, and with its plastic chairs and lack of embellishment it looks like a takeaway shop. What we eat is tasty, not to mention incredible value for money, as demonstrated by a generous plate of vegetable biryani which is just £4.25. The prawn biryani (£7.25) is equally filling, with juicy, garlicky prawns, fried onions and whole peppercorns that are mixed into flavoursome rice. The handi cooking technique is used here, where food is slow-cooked in a pot with a lid covering a narrow opening. This method dates back to sixteenth century India, and ensures that the food retains as much flavour as possible. There is hearty chana dall - split chickpea dal – and fragrant, subtly spicy sag aloo. We love the hot, fluffy peshwari naan, which is sweet and coconutty. The lamb tikka arrives sizzling on a bed of onion, and is the only minor disappointment as the meat is slightly on the tough side. They don’t sell booze but you can take your own, which contributes to keeping the cost down - we’re unable to finish our plates yet all this food comes to just over £20, one of the best bargains in the area.
Reviewed by Leila
on Oct 5, 2012
Published on Sep 10, 2020
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