Two Brown Girls

Two brown girls, two countries, and two kitchens in which to play!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Where to Eat: London

A friend of mine at NYU in New York asked me to write a quick food-related london-focused piece for one of NYU's myriad student publications, and I thought I'd post it here too to make up for the lack of recent posting.

Where to Eat, London: The London Markets

Contrary to popular belief, London is actually considered one of the best cities for food in the world. Though “typically English” foods like fish and chips can definitely be found easily, equally prominent are curry takeaways (that’s takeout in American) and kebab shops aplenty. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of the London food scene, however, is the prevalence of farmer’s markets all over the city. Some follow the classic New York City Greenmarket formula (which will be familiar to those who shop in the Union Square Market in New York) – the stalls contain largely produce, with a few meat and cheese stalls and perhaps one or two stalls selling hot meals or cooked products.

In London, interestingly, many of the Markets are more or less a hodgepodge of clothing stores, record shops, handbag vendors, and tiny food stalls. That said, the Markets do have their individual personalities and reputations. Portobello Road Market (in Notting Hill) is known chiefly for its antiques and vintage goods, Spitalfields and Camden Markets (in the East End and Camden Town respectively) are known for their mix of eclectic small-scale goodsmakers and certain Markets (like Borough Market in South London) are more or less devoted to food (often artisan and gourmet foods in particular). However, one can be guaranteed a good, cheap meal at any of these Markets. Camden Market has some excellent ethnic offerings including Burmese and Indian for about £3 (or roughly $6.00) a meal, while Spitalfields not only has great specialty groceries offered at food stalls inside the actual market but is also adjacent to Brick Lane (the famous heart of Bangladeshi-London and filled with good, cheap restaurants). And though these are the major London Markets, be sure to look around for smaller local markets in whichever neighborhood you find yourself in. Around the corner from several of the NYU in London dorms, for instance, is the tiny Exmouth Market in which several of the vendors found at Spitalfields have smaller stalls with a range of products such as tarts, quiches, Spanish chorizo, coffee beans, and flowers. The Markets are truly a great way to taste London. And the best part? You can shop and eat at the same time!

How to Get There?

Borough Market
London Bridge Tube Station
Thursdays: 11am to 5pm
Fridays: 12pm to 6pm
Saturdays 9am - 4pm

Spitalfields Market
Liverpool Street Tube Station
Market Stalls:
Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm and Sundays, 9am - 5pm
Monday to Friday, 11am - 11pm and Sundays 9am - 5pm
Retail Shops:
Monday to Sunday 11am-7pm

Camden Market
Camden Town Tube Station
Hours vary depending on portion of market (some stalls, but not all, are open 7 days a week). Check website for details.

Portobello Road Market
Notting Hill Gate Tube Station
Every Saturday