Southwark Street, SE1 1TL
Tube: London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee)
Open: Mon-Tues 10am-5pm (partially open), Wed-Thurs 10am-5pm, Friday till 6pm and Sat 8am-5pm (full market)
It is hard to believe that back in 1994, Borough was a wholesale fruit and vegetable market where members of the public seldom set foot as the restaurateurs and caterers went about their business. Since then the market has undergone an incredible transformation, becoming one of Europe’s leading food markets with thousands of visitors each day and many fashionable restaurants, cafés and specialist food outlets with Monmouth Coffee Company and the Neal’s Yard Dairy establishing themselves in the narrow roads around the old market. The transformation began with just a few stalls offering quality food at the weekend. Pioneers such as the wild boar farmer Peter Gott struggled as the market found its feet but soon persuaded others to join them as the venture acquired momentum. In the years that followed, the trustees of the market developed and improved the site with the help of architects Greig + Stephenson while still preserving the Art Deco exterior on Borough High Street and the 19th century wrought iron structure of the wholesale market. The changes included the expansion of the market into a canopied area between Bedale Street and Southward Cathedral – enabling over 100 additional food stalls to do business here.
Borough has flourished into a remarkably vibrant food market with all kinds of retailers selling fresh food from around the globe. Here you can find meat sold direct from a single producer such as Rhug Estate Farm, as well as butchers like Ginger Pig selling high quality meat sourced from a number of farms. The cheese stalls are equally varied with Kappacasein Dairy offering their own London produced cheeses and yoghurt while the established Une Normande a Londres French delicatessen sell all kinds of cheeses, sausages and other produce. The fruit and vegetables are also exceptional with commercial greengrocers selling produce from around the world alongside specialist stalls. At a supermarket you might be lucky to find two or three kinds of mushroom, but at Borough there are over 20 types of fungi available from dried Ceps to the gigantic Puffball. Fishmongers are rarely found at most markets these days, but here there are several elaborate stalls selling anything from sea urchins and eel to more familiar staples like cod and salmon. Breads and patisserie are another of Borough’s strengths with big names such as Bread Ahead, Karaway Bakery and Olivier’s Bakery all regulars at the market.
The wine and beer traders include the renowned Borough Wines and Utobeer which offers over 600 different beers from around the world. Other traders just sell their own product including New Forest Cider. The one thing all these dealers have in common is the use of small tasters, which is the ideal opportunity to try before you buy.
The atmosphere at Borough Market is infectious with crowds milling from stall to stall, many people sampling the food and chatting with the stallholders. It’s now the unrivalled food market of the capital and one that appears to be going from strength to strength. It now produces its own magazine – Market Life – with features and recipes inspired by the market and its traders. Visitors should also look out for the Market Hall where there is seating to enjoy your food and regular cookery demonstrations by well known chefs. A great way to round off a visit to this incredible Mecca to food.
Eating and Drinking
In a market dedicated to food there are countless opportunities to indulge your tastebuds with the canopied market adjacent to Southwark Cathedral the best place for street food with anything from Koshari St, offering delicious Egyptian vegan dishes, to substantial meaty sandwiches from long established Borough Market favourites, Roast Hog. If you want to sit down and eat, there are plenty of great restaurants and cafés in and around the market with Monmouth Coffee Company on Stoney Street one of the best for coffee. Maria’s Café in the heart of the market is a great place to enjoy traditional British grub and watch the world go by.
There are all kinds of things to enjoy in the area with Tate Modern just a 10 minutes walk from here. On Saturdays you should make an effort to visit the fabulous Flea @ Flat Iron Sq.
This feature is taken from our forthcoming book:
by Andrew Kershman