I’ll always have a soft spot for Borough Market, but it really does need to up it’s game. It’s just too much of the same every week. It doesn’t attract the trendy food vendors that other markets in London get. There’s probably a good reason for this, like Borough Market might cost a bomb to set up stall. Or maybe it’s just too mainstream and not hipster enough for the sort of stalls you find at Kerb or Street Feast. Whatever the reason, it needs to do deal with it and add a few more exciting places because there’s only so many cheese and olive oil samples I can take.
Recently I’ve been heading further along the Thames to Maltby Street Market. This has a much more local vibe, and there aren’t too many of the bumbag wearing tourist that you find at Borough Market who take photos of just about everything. Instead there’s me, equally as annoying, taking exactly the same photos, the only exception being I don’t have the bumbag.
On my first visit here I was eager to try the famous St John’s doughnuts, but they’d sold out by midday. Today I rocked up at 11am, after refusing to be beaten by the tossers in charge of the tube who think nobody has any plans on the weekend so put those dreaded ‘planned engineering works’ on just about every line. So after an hour cross-city trek, and after braving three different lines, including the stinking old Bakerloo, I arrived there in desperate need of grub. I would have felt sorry for those at St. John’s if they’d had no doughnuts this morning because I was in no mood to be let down. Thankfully they did. Plenty of them as well. I was expecting just vanilla. But no, there was rhubarb, salted caramel, honeycomb, lemon curd and chocolate as well.
Not wanting to miss out I had one of each. They’re good sized things and they should be for £2 a pop. On my first bite I was expecting magic, and was let down when I didn’t ejaculate with joy. And so I wolfed that one. Still not convinced I had another four, and this made up my mind that they really are top notch doughnuts. It’s all about the filling, and they squeeze plenty of it in here. We also got a top notch loaf of white sourdough (£4). It was a huge loaf and easily one of the best I’ve had in London.
Not stopping there it was on to Monty’s Deli for a Reuben sandwich. I went for the £1.50 more expensive special, because it packs in salt beef and pastrami. At £9 it’s a hefty priced sarny to be eating on the go. It sure as hell was packed with meat though. Was this to it’s advantage? For me, it actuallly took something away from it. I wanted more of the cheese and sauerkraut and sauce. This just became a little top heavy on the meat, and because of that it was a bit dry. It just wasn’t as exciting as say the reuben at Mishkin’s is. This was a 7/10. The line of punters willing to wait 20 minutes for one shows that they must be doing something right though.
Then to clog my heart up a bit more a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. This tasted exactly like you’d expect. Supposedly this was Peckham’s version of a Mexican cheese, a fact which had one of the people queuing up literally in stitches as he came up with every Mexican joke he could. These were fatty, greasy and deliciously bad for you.
Then onto a little scotch egg shop. Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve become a bit too middle class, because these days I expect my scotch egg to be warmed up. Gone are the days of grabbing one from the fridge Tesco and wolfing it in the store and taking the wrapper to pay. I now expect a good sauce with it, and a runny warm yolk with a rich meaty coating. The haggis promised great things, but served cold it just didn’t reach those heights.
Maltby Street is definitely worth the trip. It’s not a place you can come and spend the day like you can at Borough Market, but with a couple of little restaurants and a nice bric-a-brac cocktail bar that does good Bloody Mary’s for £5, you can’t go wrong here. The food is a lot more exciting than the standard stuff you get at Borough Market and just like we did you can walk to both in the same day, and if you’re feeling extra hungry you can stop off on Bermondsey Street at one of the many great restaurants there.
Monty’s Deli: 7/10
St. John’s Bakery: 8.5/10
Maltby Street Market: 8/10