One of my main aims, before I leave London (if that ever happens), is to make sure I’ve been to as many markets as possible. Of course, I’ve done the really touristy ones like Borough, Brick Lane and Portobello as well as some of the lesser known ones like Leather Lane or Maltby Street Market. But there are still so many to try.
So yeah, I’ve definitely been making my way around them. But I haven’t managed to find somewhere that I think I can class as my favourite. The one I’d go back to time and time again.
I have to say though, that Broadway Market came pretty close to being that one.
Broadway Market is a street in East London, between the Regents Canal and London Fields. It’s been home to market traders since the 19th Century. Unfortunately for me, its position in Hackney means it probably won’t take the coveted top spot as my favourite London market. I hate getting up to Hackney. I am a south of the river girl. Having said that, it’s nice getting out of your own pockets of London every so often. A trip on the overground once in a while never did anyone any harm.
Broadway Market has become the centre point of the debate about gentrification in Hackney. I swear I can’t write about a trip anywhere without mentioning that word, but here we go again. On one hand, it’s always a difficult balance to strike on my guilt on the whole thing. On the other, not all that long ago, Broadway Market had dwindled to a few stalls selling some fruit and veg. Now it’s thriving again. There are loads of stalls and independent shops along the street. We couldn’t move for people on our visit there.
There are still some nods to the old East End heritage of the market. At the southern end of the street, there is F Cookes, a traditional pie and mash shop which has been on the site since 1900. You can get your traditional pie and mash with liquor and jellied eels too. And if it couldn’t get any more East End, then it’s said that the market was the inspiration for the market in Eastenders.
We went hungry and in search of some serious food. And we weren’t disappointed. There was a ridiculous amount of choice for one street – including some stalls that I know you just don’t really get at Borough Market. We settled for the hog roast which came in a proper ciabatta bun. I will probably think about that sandwich for a long time to come. But it was a real debate between that and La Tua Pasta for me. The hog roast only just made it. We also picked up some gluten free sausages to take home from a different stall.
For a sweet treat, we were really spoilt for choice. I really only just managed to hold back on buying every single doughnut that Crosstown Doughnuts had to offer, and had to walk very quickly past the Violet stall, which was selling a very tasty looking lemon drizzle cake. I didn’t manage to exercise a great level of self-control when it came to the Meringue Girls stall. Their meringue kisses (something I’ve never been able to bake myself) and their mini pavlovas just looked too awesome to resist. Plus, when they’re that tiny and that pretty all in one go, it’s hard to say no and quite an easy treat to justify. There’s even a gin and tonic flavour.
If you get sick of the food stalls (pft) then you can always take a pit stop and check out the numerous arts and craft stalls along the route.
Unfortunately, it was raining on and off on the day we visited Broadway Market. Otherwise, we would have taken our food to sit in London Fields, which was incredibly close by. Instead, we ran off to The Hive, a local coffee shop to take shelter from the rain.