Having promised ourselves a nice relaxing weekend of not doing all that much, when it came to finding entertainment, we decided to keep it local and go for a wander in Bermondsey. We’d been told about the Maltby Street market just a couple of weeks ago, by the lovely Pru from Sparrow Gin at the StockMKT night market nearby….. and we owe her a big thank you for the introduction!
Just a few minutes away from Tower Bridge, but far enough that you feel off the beaten track, a small community of foodies has been growing over the last few years. Under the railway arches in Bermondsey, a bunch of independent food and drink makers and sellers, have moved East from the over-crowded Borough Market, to create a hub of gastronomic treasures each Saturday morning. Buyers and sellers alike enjoy the space, lack of tourists and cameras, and the fact that repeat local business is not only just possible, but inevitable.
We found the market really easily, having taken the walk across Tower Bridge, down Tower Bridge Road, and hung a left just before the Premier Inn. The stalls collect each Saturday from 9am to 2pm, under the arches and along Maltby Street, against the wonderful backdrop of Lassco’s reclamation yard. It’s brilliantly theatrical, with coffee sellers in between racks of old radiators, and bakers nestled into arches filled with bamboo floor boards, not to mention the darling camels guarding the gate! We took a walk through the showroom first of all, and found stacks of treasures in the shape of roll-top baths, butlers sinks, piles and piles of ancient doors, and period costumes. Given space and a good budget, we could very happily buy up half the place!
From there we began to explore the stalls….. St John has recently set up a stall in front of its arch, selling incredible loaves and cakes straight from the oven…. their custard filled doughnuts are legendary, and immense! Neals Yard Dairy and Monmouth Coffee, two of my Borough Market favourites, have also set up in the arches, and open up to sell their incredible cheeses and the best roasted coffee beans in London on Saturdays. We fell in love with the Green Chilli Jam and Smoked Tomato Tapenade from Pink’s, and so bought up a stock to cook with at home. But it’s not all fancy luxury stuff though, as we found Booth’s arch filled up like a good old school green grocers, bursting with colour and smelling incredible.
Confused by too many coffee choices (there is also a Turkish coffee stall and several local roasters), we opted for gin instead….. We very much wanted to thank Pru of Sparrow Gin for tipping us off about the market, and once we’d found her we didn’t want to leave their glorious little space right in the middle of the action. Having set up a darling little cocktail bar within one of the arches, their retro melamine tables and mis-matched chairs now spill out into the market, creating the perfect place to kick back and people (and dog) watch.
With a larger cocktail list than we saw at the StockMKT, and their trade mark collection of vintage glass and service ware, I adored their set-up, right down to the vintage decanters filled with wild flowers, the piles of old books and the paper doilies each drink is served on. Oh, and the little bowl of water and sign for customers dogs is just darling…. we saw lots of super cute hounds in fact!
Each cocktail is based around something from one of the amazing sellers on the market….I opted for their version of the Bloody Mary, the Maltby Mary which is served with a divine black pudding, whilst Adam went for the Golden Nest which is mixed with a yummy cider. Mine was served in a handled jam jar, with a generous hunk of black pudding pinned to the celery stick with a beautiful silver Cockerel cocktail stick…… the black pudding was an amazing accompaniment to the perfectly mixed cocktail, and probably made it the best Bloody Mary I’ve had. Adam’s vintage cut-glass tumbler looked like summer itself, rammed with Pimm’s fruit, and gloriously golden…. it was plenty boozey but terribly easy to drink! And because we’ve developed a taste for the grapefruity gin, we couldn’t avoid buying a bottle to take home!
Having had my main course (a Bloody Mary can be classified as such, honest), we headed to the Eden Ice Cream stall for some of their very special chocolate loveliness. Using cream from the famous Roskilly herd in Cornwall, alongside Colombian cacao, fruits and panela, the ice cream is dreamily creamy, and divinely flavoured. All four flavours are reassuringly natural in colour too, and a percentage of the purchase price goes towards helping the Eden Project, so everyone’s a winner. Oh and I can’t not mention their darling little dog, Saucisse, a rescue dog from France, and certainly a highlight of our visit!
Not really a market so much as a fabulously convenient collection of delicious delights, each stall boasts a personality that I think has been largely lost at Borough Market. The emphasis is on all things local, the experimental, and a buzzing atmosphere that you just want to spend hours in. Dubbed the food market for Londoners, I know I’ll want to return again and again, comfortably free from hoards of tourists, cameras, the over-priced and samey-samey.
Before heading home, we took the opportunity to have a snoop about the two larger antiques warehouses very near by….. again, I know we could spend a fortune in these given the space to keep our treasures in! And if you fancy a whole day out in the vicinity, there’s also the Bermondsey Square Farmers market just a few minutes away to boot!
Viva South East London!