I was challenged to write about a unique cultural experience in my hometown of London. I chose to visit Maltby Market, which is being hailed as the capital’s latest foodie destination…
Maltby Market is a place I’ve been hearing a lot about recently and curiosity finally got the better of me. I wouldn’t exactly say my London friends were shouting about it, more of a whisper of ‘I know this great place but don’t tell anyone in case it gets too busy’. It’s sometimes labelled the new Borough market but people-in-the-know tell me it’s a quieter and more personable foodie mecca now its predecessor has become too popular for its own good. The market is held every Saturday and Sunday and although Sunday is the less busy day to visit, on both days long queues are rare and the stall owners actually take the time to talk to you about their produce…or so I heard.
The market is located in Bermondsey – an up and coming area of South London which is not yet too cool for school but is home to more than a handful fancy loft apartments. It’s a pleasant 15 minute stroll from London Bridge underground station and as I approached I noticed how surprisingly quiet it was, perhaps I was expecting I don’t know, a little more hustle and bustle? This is one of Europe’s busiest capitals after all. Maltby market (situated along Ropewalk) seems like it’s in its own little bubble – a backwater oasis of gastronomic delights surrounded by a sea of silent grey streets and the odd railway arch turned antique shop.
Ropewalk is an avenue of handsome Victorian railway arches, strewn with colourful bunting and now housing an eclectic range of trendy pop up eateries; from Spanish tapas hero Pizarro to Zucca which serves up Italian fayre in stylish surroundings. Alongside these, there is a farmer’s market selling high-quality fresh produce, artisan food and the odd BBQ grill preparing a pesticide-free brunch for hungover hipsters.
On a Sunday the vibe is very relaxed with outdoor seating and musical accompaniment in the form of a mellow live band. The stall owners are friendlier than average and are clearly passionate about their products, tasting is also actively encouraged so we sipped, slugged and grazed our way down the street. There were around 30 stalls in total selling everything from hearty waffles, global cuisine from all over the world, homemade chutneys, a stall dedicated to delicious avocado-based dips, an organic wine bar which only serves natural and organic alcohol (without additives or sulphites), and even a stall selling giant Scotch eggs (stopping at this stand I opted for a tasty gluten-free vegetarian scotch egg made from vegetables, organic free-range egg and a little nutmeg).
Other stand out eateries include an American style Bea’s of Bloomsbury with their array of cakes and fancies and St John’s Bakery with their famous vanishing doughnuts (you have to be an early bird to catch many of them). Apparently flavours rotate on a weekly basis, but try their classic vanilla cream doughnut with a hint of lemon zest. Also prepare yourself for a little afternoon drinking – the gin cocktails at the pop-up Sparrow Bar put on by boutique London distillers Little Bird Gin are not to be missed!
I recommend you go now before everyone cottons on to what is arguably London’s best-kept secret. Maltby Street is home to one of the best up and coming foodie scenes in all of London and definitely worth the trip on a Saturday morning or a relaxed Sunday afternoon.
All words and photos by Becky