Camden isn’t exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to good restaurants. Aside from the chains, there’s Porky’s which got a decent review from Timeout but served me the worst excuse for a burger I’ve seen, there’s Made in Camden which has decent grub but feels like a school canteen and never has anybody in, and there’s Honest Burger which thankfully never fails to hit the spot. Then there’s Market which serves good British food served in a cosy little restaurant. Inside has the feel of a local restaurant, and the exposed brick walls are a world away from the trendy Soho joints. It has the feel of 10 Greek Street, and so does the menu which is made up of seasonal British ingredients simply cooked. To start I had cured mackerel with dill, Crème fraîche, capers and soured onions (£7). If you have watched Valentine Warner Eats Scandinavia then you’d know that this is right up his street. It was such a delicately balanced dish, and everything worked so well to give a fresh and extremely clean taste on the palate. It really needed the Crème fraîche because without it the vinegar from the curing would have overpowered it.
My partner had the pig’s cheeks, black pudding and peas (£8). It came in a small iron pot and was a generous starter portion. It was hard not to like this dish with these flavour combinations. There maybe could have been more flavour coming from the pig, but with good sourdough bread to dab it all up nobody was complaining.
So starters had gone well, and we were saying how lucky we were to have this place on our doorstep (which by London standards is still a bloody twenty minute walk). And then came the mains. How could beef onglet, fries and aioli (£15.50) go wrong? Somehow they managed it. This is one of the lesser used cuts of meat, but when cooked well it can also is can be one of the tastiest. Sadly though this was tough and lacked any real flavour. The presentation didn’t help things either, and it looked like the scraps from somebody elses plate had been piled onto mine.
My partner had the guinea fowl, leek and bacon pie with cabbage (£15.50). This was a real shocker. The crust was golden which seemed to promise good things. But as soon as you cut into it, the disappointment began. It was basically a soup with a crust on top. Although that’s being too generous. It was so thin that there was no way you could eat this without a spoon. A pie’s filling should ooze out, not be a thin liquid. To top things off it was both under-seasoned and also didn’t have much of the guinea fowl.
We passed on dessert, and with two sides- sprouting broccoli and fries (£3.50 each), both nothing to write home about- and a bottle of decent Malbec (£22.50) the bill came to £88 which was on the expensive side. I feel (and hope) we caught the kitchen on a bad night because the last two times I’ve been the food has been spot on and it always felt like I was getting a great deal. But tonight was really hit and miss, and for food that is this simply cooked, everything should be perfect. The service was fine, although we did have to ask for pretty much everything. I want to say I’d go back, but then again I’d much rather go to 10 Greek Street, which all in all takes about the same length of time to get to, is a bit cheaper and serves much better food.
Food: 5/10 (Starters 8/10, Mains 3/10)
Overall: 6/10 43
Parkway, NW1 7PN, Camden, London