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Monday, 5 May 2014

London Food Markets #1 - Borough

I've decided to set myself a challenge. My challenge is to visit every one of the main food markets in London and then to report back to you on my findings in a blog post. 

Borough market
Ok, ok, I'll admit it, it's not really so much of a challenge as a massive treat. This idea was spawned from my recent visit to Maltby Street Market (view my post here) which reignited my passion for street food markets. On my hit list are the following:

Real Food Festival (Southbank)
Borough Market,  (obviously, Borough)
Urban Food Festival (Soho)
Street Food Union (Soho)
Partridges Foods (King's Road)
Brockley Market (Lewisham)
Broadway Market (Hackney)

First on my list had to be Borough Market as I spent a considerable amount of time there a few years ago, working on the Ginger Pig stall.

Borough market is probably the best known of the London Food markets. It attracts tourists from all over the world armed with their massive SLR cameras. This certainly has the advantage that no one bats an eye lid when you try to take a photo of their wares. However, it does mean that, unless you're super careful, in practically every photo you have someone's hand inadvertently photobombing it.

So let's start with the positives. Borough Market is arguably bigger than many of the other other markets on my list. This automatically means that there is more on offer, and for someone hunting for something a little different, there's plenty to pick from.

Lunch options are a plenty. You can buy everything from ostrich burgers to oysters, toasted raclette cheese toasties to bubble and squeak baps. These can be followed with dessert from any one of the plethora of stalls selling sweet options. 

As well as food, you can find lots of other treasures on offer, including this beautiful lavender.

Borough Market's unique positioning also adds to its appeal. It is situated under railway tracks so there's the constant wail of trains going overhead. They've kept many of the original features the same, but also included some newer arty touches.

Including these amazing umbrellas!

Some men with their horses also came straight through the middle which earned many surprised looks.

Despite all of the above, there are a number of negative aspects to visiting Borough, many of which are caused by its overwhelming popularity. Firstly, Borough Market is on the expensive side of things - huge demand means prices are elevated. Secondly, and for me, most irritatingly, is that it's just too darn popular for its own good. I visited on Saturday at around 3pm and it was still ridiculously busy.

It's impossible to get anywhere near the stores and to see what's actually being sold. Coupled with this, you have someone either standing on your foot every couple of seconds or prams being crashed into the back of your calves. Certainly not my idea of a good time. If I was less of a grumpy old woman I'd probably appreciate the 'lively' atmosphere, but I'm not.

To summarise, Borough market is definitely worth a visit, but just bear a couple of things in mind. To avoid the crowds, avoid Friday and Saturday, otherwise go very early or late (don't do what my friend Abby did, and turn up on a Sunday, as it's closed and you'll be sorely disappointed). Finally, despite the misleading name, the closest tube to Borough Market is London Bridge, not Borough. M and I made this mistake the first time we visited and ended up walking much further than we should have.

Borough market is open everyday apart from Sunday. For specific opening times, see here. Follow Borough Market here

P.S. Please let me know if I've left any markets off my hit list - it's in no way exhaustive!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for a nice report from the London market crime scene. A pram in your loins or being back stabed by one is no fun indeed. Contradictions as we seek the buzz but not the fuzz. Looking forward to the rest of your yourney, specially Broadway market which I visted myself. Read about it on