Restaurant Review #4: El Ganso

Broadway market is undoubtedly the best place in London if you want to see people with turned up trousers, taking photos with vintage films cameras that they cannot afford to develop.

These aren’t to be confused with those that wear defunct cameras around their necks as jewellery, but you can see them too. I once saw someone taking a cat for a walk and I was not surprised. Which was more than I could say for the cat.

This was the setting for my next culinary conquest. If you have ever lived in Hackney then you will know that if you have a baby, or a dog, or a haircut, you must take it for a walk down the Broadway. The numerous restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating provide an audience for your spectacle. The people are nice and the homeless are some of the best in the country. One particularly stand-up homeless chap who goes by the name of Jimmy, starts every gambit with ‘don’t worry I’m not asking you for money’, yet somehow always ends up with at least 4 of my pounds. Homeless people, it turns out, are not like hookers — they do not leave when you pay them. Jimmy had in fact been squatting in my friend’s boat and despite accidentally breaking a window, my friend forgave him after he returned a radio which had previously gone missing (presumably he’d stolen it in the first place). Their friendship is temporarily on hold again until the engine of the boat is found.

To celebrate being one day closer to death, I booked a tapas restaurant called El Ganso, which is almost definitely Spanish for something. They would not let us book the incredibly en vogue tables outside on the path, so I got there early, as is my custom, to reserve. Unfortunately, a man the size of a shopping trolley was having drinks by himself, and had taken up a table for 4, literally. He was so large in fact I found it difficult to imagine him getting up without help. We ordered a bottle of white wine, and once I had glass in hand, I perused the ‘tapa’, gradually, then suddenly. The food came and we ate it. I had no complaints other than when my friend Peter sneezed and something of it went onto the food. I managed to guess the total bill to the closest half pound and explained my strategy to the waitress, whereby I multiplied the amount of dishes by the average cost of dish, but used the mode instead of the median to gain a more accurate representation of the disparity of the price between meat and non-meat dishes on our bill. She was professional and did a convincing job of looking unimpressed. I left her a generous tip but then realised that it was already included on the bill so I quickly took it back.

The sun was still out when we finished up and eventually a table freed up outside. We took an aperitif in the fresh, summer evening air, and contemplated calamari. We had all been very impressed and all agreed wholeheartedly that the food tasted exactly like tapas. After a quick cigarette we went to leave and were accosted by a homeless man. He was trying to shift an engine. An incredible coincidence, I thought, and I told him I had a friend who was looking for just that.