Thursday, July 28, 2011

5 things to do around Borough Market - there is more than just the market itself

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You have planned to spend your entire Saturday at London Borough Market (yes, Saturday is the best day of the week to be there) and you are pretty certain that the weather's going to be brilliant. You know what you are going to do. Besides getting some fresh produce from the best farmers market in London, you would probably having your breakfast, lunch and even dinner there if you got half a chance.

Of late, there are concerns about the eventual demise of the Borough Market with the impending development of the railway, the unreasonable increase in rents that is driving out independent businesses and tourists who are more interested in photos than spending thronging the Market. The advent of online buying didn't help either (you could even buy pork online now). Believe it or not, during a recent visit, I actually overheard some students commenting about having skipped breakfast and planning to eat their fill just by stall hopping for food samples. The cheek of them! Then again, I might even be one of them when I was that age; when money's tight, what's there not to like about free food?

Then again, it's a zero sum game and things don't come free. For the rest of us who can afford to spend a bit more, please do so that the Borough Market that has been around since 1756 could still be there for some time.

While the food and grocer stalls in Borough Market itself could very well keep you occupied for quite some time, there are some other shops at its peripheral that are worth a visit and here are five of them.

1. Paul Smith outlet
13 Park Street, London SE1 9AB. Tel: 020 7403 1678

Unknown to many, tucked at the end of Park Street (just round the corner at Monmouth) lies a very small Paul Smith outlet, which has been there since 2006. This indiscreet store is rather unlike the other outlets found in London. You would have mistaken it for a curiosity shop when you first step in because of the eclectic items on sale at the front end of the store. The proper Paul Smith items are placed towards the end of the store bathed in natural light from a skylight above.

2. Neal's Yard Dairy
6 Park Street, London SE1 9AB. Tel: 020 7367 0799

I immediately thought of Neal's Yard Dairy when attempting to recreate the four-cheese laksa that I had at Singapore Takeout. Once you turn the corner at Monmouth, let your nose be led by the smell. Oh, the lovely overwhelmingly pungent smell of cheese. Greeted warmly at the entrance, get enticed into sampling a small slice of blue cheese offered by a smiling staff. Apart from the cheeses matured in Neal's Yard Dairy's very own maturing room, the store offers a huge variety of cheeses sourced all over the UK.

3. Feng Sushi
13 Stony Street, London SE1 9AD. Tel: 020 7407 8744

For those hunting for great sushi in London, you are at the right place at Feng Sushi, which is literally right across the street opposite Borough Market. Featuring ethically sourced fish with a tinge of modernity, Feng Sushi would be a welcome change from fish & chips and roast beef bap. Who could say no to some healthy sushi, which much care is put into not only the taste but presentation as well? It does get a bit busy during the evenings so you might wish to get a reservation beforehand. With six restaurants dotted around London, Feng Sushi is one of the few restaurants that does sushi catering.

4. Tapas Brindisa
18-20 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TJ. Tel: 020 7357 8880

One of the hot favourites for fans of the Spanish tapas in London. Period. It's not just the food, but also the staff wearing aprons rushing around, high tables on one end and regular coffee tables on the other. It's the bar where one can just down a thick sweet wine and some sliced chorizo. It's the alfresco dining when weather permits. It's having to stand in line just to get a table. It's the whole buzz that make this place so special. I shan't bore you with details here but check out Tapas Brindisa's review for more.

5. Fish!
Cathedral Street, London SE1 9AL. Tel: 020 7407 3801

I'm a bit hesitant putting this one in as Fish! is technically within Borough Market. But I quite enjoyed the meal when I was there and I'll indulge myself. A full service restaurant serving, well, as the name implies, fish! Monkfish, skate, red snapper, wild seabass, swordfish and sardines just to name a few, grilled or steamed with your choice of sauce? Sounds good? It gets better. Fish! is housed in a pseudo greenhouse structure and that ensures that the entire place is always amply lit by natural light in the day. Looking for just a quick bite instead? Just go for the good old fish & chips at the Fish! Kitchen - a takeaway chippy that the restaurant runs located just beside it.

Have I missed anything? Anyway, for those who loves maps, that's the locations of all five of them below.

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