Situated at the bottom of Columbia Road, the StringRay Globe Cafe, best known for its huge pizzas, offers filling, home cooked food in a laid back environment. Combine this with a trip to Columbia Road flower market for a perfect cheap Sunday in London.
The StringRay Globe is simply but cosily furnished, kitsch coloured glass lamps, tea lights on the tables in the evening and the heat from the open pizza oven in the kitchen give it a homely feel which offers a welcome respite from the harsh high rise council buildings outside. This could well explain the popularity of this busy cafe. In the summer they open up their doors and there is a good-sized terrace, perfect for people watching on a Sunday afternoon when Columbia Road really comes alive. The tables are small (it can be a fight trying to find room for the sizeable pizzas and drinks) but are not too close together. There is a large bar in the middle of the dining area which could be put to better use or to make room for much needed extra seating (as it always seems full).
Whilst a good half of the clientele represent this uber-fashionable part of London (although not quite as trendy as the Brick Lane skinny jean brigade) thankfully the StringRay Globe Cafe attracts an interesting mixed crowd. Alongside the cool kids are international students, local families, older customers who only come to this part of London for the flower market, and many regulars. What is refreshing is that StringRay Globe Cafe manages to cater for all of these groups perfectly and is unpretentious and welcoming – a lesson many places in this part of East London could learn.
The StringRay Globe Cafe seems to be constantly busy, making it advisable to book whatever time you wish to visit, especially on a weekend. On a Sunday the bustling crowds from the Columbia Road market often form a queue outside but even on a weeknight it is not rare to experience a fair wait. The service is friendly and warm, although they can be rushed off their feet in busy periods. They are happy to help with menu recommendations and the sizeable wine list, and will gladly box up your pizza if you can’t manage it all.
Perhaps as a symbol of the hedonistic pace of life in this trendy part of London, the StringRay Globe Cafe serves hearty, hangover busting breakfasts all day. These attract a young crowd who seem to figure that at these prices it makes more sense to come to the StringRay Globe Cafe than attempt to cook away their hangovers. The food is extremely cheap – their huge specialty pizzas range from £4.95 for a Margarita to £6.95 for a Pizza Bianca (generous amounts of Parma ham, gorgonzola and rocket). There are 19 different choices and all come with the perfect thin, crisp, and handmade unevenness that all pizzas should have. The toppings are fresh and the pizzas are not at all oily, reflecting good quality cheese and fresh cooking. You can see the pizza bases being made and toppings continuously prepared and this really shows in the food – everything is fresh and made to order, something that you won’t find in large chain pizzerias.
The Venetiana (£6.50) is a vibrant mix of mozzarella, smoked chicken, sun dried tomatoes (although it could do with a few more of these) and red peppers. The bases are thin enough to let the flavours of the toppings stand out. The pizzas here are huge, filling, and well made but simple – for under £6.50 you really can’t do better. The StringRay Globe Cafe also offers a large selection of a la carte and pasta dishes but judging by other patrons the main draw here is the pizza.
The StringRay Globe Cafe has a good selection, 26 wines from various regions, these are reasonably priced (£10.95 – £22.95) to reflect the price of the food and the casual environment. Alongside the wine list there is a good selection of beers, lagers, spirits and cocktails.
The Last Word
The StringRay Globe Cafe attracts an interesting, mixed crowd who are drawn here by the huge credit crunch busting pizzas and good atmosphere.