Borough Market – London

On a recent trip, I had a stopover in London. Looking for a place to eat, I consulted Holy Grub. Of the recent places in London they had been to, I settled on Borough Market. At the market I found over a dozen places serving food, all looking fantastic.

Borough Market is an outdoor food market, the kind of which you will find all over Europe. Borough is in central London not too far from the Tower of London, just across the river Thames. In fact, the closest bridge over the Thames is the famed London Bridge.

Hot Food

Hot food seating area
Hot food area, from the top of the staircase used for dining

In addition to groceries, the market has plenty of booths with hot food available. Unlike many markets, there is space to sit and eat. It is located in the area where most of the hot food vendors are, and is essentially a wide staircase.

I arrived at the market late morning, not long after it opened. As I had not eaten breakfast, I was quite hungry. The food options are plentiful. Just about every imaginable type of cuisine is available — Arabic, Greek, , Iraqi, Italian, Israeli, Indian Street Food, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish (in the form of Paella, and Thai — you name it they have it. They even have Gujarati street food. Gujarat is a state in India. (I had to look it up.) And, of course, there is British food.

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So what did I end up eating? I wish I could say that I visited all the booths and picked what I thought was the best. But I was hungry and I ate at the first food booth I saw. My excuse is that it is one of the few meal serving booths in the grocery area and I encountered it before discovering the plethora of booths in the hot food area.

And this booth was was selling Wild Mushroom Risotto. I had not heard of this kind of risotto before, but it must be common in the UK because after I got back home I found a British Pub in DC that has it on the menu. The Wild Mushroom Risotto booth in Borough Market had a bit of a line but it went quickly. And while you wait, you can watch them cooking the risotto right there.

Wild mushroom risotto

Before too long, I got my bowl of risotto which, after being asked if I wanted it, was topped with a generous amount of freshly grated cheese. The risotto was creamy, delicious, and filling. My appetite was satiated. Which was too bad, because I soon discovered lots of food that I wanted to try.

But I did have room to eat a little more. Learning my lesson, I spent quite a bit of time walking around looking at all the booths before ordering more. Despite all that, I settled on the very second booth I saw. A booth called ShellSeekers that claimed to have the finest venison burgers in London.

Venison burger

Even after looking at all the other booths, I still wanted to try that burger. Was it the finest in London? I can’t say, as I have not had it at elsewhere. But Shellseekers’ burger was excellent. I am always a bit wary of ordering burgers made from exotic meat, as they tend to be lean and therefore dry. Not so here. Shellseekers is smart enough not to overcook the burger. In fact, it was cooked rare. Perfect for this type of meat!

After eating the burger, I wanted a dessert. I was tempted by the Bath Dairy, which was selling ice cream. But there was one place that my eye kept returning to. A place called Humble Crumble.

I had no idea what a crumble is, but they were advertising “Hot Apple Crumble” and had consistently long lines, so I figured it must be good. So what is a crumble? A crumble (at least, the crumble they serve) is hot fruit mixed in with short bread served in a cup and drizzled with hot custard, along with a small choice of toppings. The special of the day had it served in a pumpkin. And that is what I got.

Crumble in a pumpkin

Turns out, the size of the pumpkins varied a lot. And I got one of the bigger ones. It was a lot of food. But absolutely delicious; well worth standing in line for.

I did make a mistake by ordering both the hot and frozen custard. As the frozen custard would have melted immediately if put on the crumble with the hot custard, the server decided to put the frozen custard in a cup. This provided me the opportunity to try both custards. So which custard was better? The hot custard, by far.

I also had something to drink. The day I was those was cold and rainy. So when I saw a stand selling hot mulled cider I realized I desperately needed it. It certainly warmed me up.

Grocery Vendors

But the Borough Market is primarily a food market. I would be remiss not to cover the groceries that are for sale. There are a lot of bakeries. And plenty of wine vendors and the cheese vendors. Also of note are couple of olive oil vendors. One place I spent quite some time in was the spice store (Spice Mountain). I ended up buying some hot pepper powder as a gift for a relative who likes spicy food.

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On the sweet side of things, all sorts of things can be found: fudge, biscotti, cookies, and chocolates. On the more exotic side is a booth selling Arabic dates and another one selling truffles. Ethnic food vendors include Croatian, French, Italian, and Turkish. If you are looking for high quality ingredients or hard to find pantry items, Borough Market is the place to go.

One tip I do want to relate is to get there early. I got there around 11:00 and it was not too crowded and very easy to walk around. By the time I left a few hours later, the place was packed and movement was much slower. Regardless, I highly recommend going to Borough Market whenever you are in London.

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