Well well, the area around Maltby Street near Bermondsey has certainly levelled up since the last time we visited. Now christened The Ropewalk, it’s more like a mini food market, with the suppliers in the archways spilling onto the narrow lane to feed the through traffic. From wine bars to coffee, cocktails and local cheeses, it’s a great place to hang out on a sunny Saturday lunchtime.
Much as I love the range of foody goodies on offer at London Bridge’s Borough Market, it’s just too packed out on a Saturday and often ends up being more stressful than fun. Much more relaxing is a stroll away from the crowds, past the massive queues for the London Dungeons and across a quiet council estate, to the lovely little local food suppliers tucked under the railway arches in an area known as Maltby Street.
On Druid St (yes, confusingly most of the stalls aren’t actually on Maltby Street), Booth’s sells a huge range of tempting fresh fruit and veg. It’s where I picked up the samphire and courgette flowers for last weekend’s cooking exploits. They also have a good range of Asian bottled sauces, herbs and spices, and Italian storecupboard supplies like pasta and polenta. Also on this street you’ll find Neal’s Yard dairy and bakery, and the amazing La Grotta ices.
Just around the corner on the actual Maltby Street, Monmouth coffee is sold ready to drink or in takeout bags of beans, with none of the queues always found at their spot opposite Borough Market.
Rope Walk is home to The Kernel‘s HQ, a craft beer brewery who produce limited runs of outstandingly good pale ales, stouts and porters. You can buy bottles to take away (Josh always stocks up) or crack one open and enjoy it at the tables set out nearby.
The Lassco wood salvage yard stores a lot of their stock under the next-door arches, and while they aren’t officially open on Saturdays you can poke around the stock.
Intrigued by a Time Out feature on new London markets, we headed over to Chatsworth Road on Sunday. It’s an up-and-coming area wedged between Clapton and Homerton, fast on its way to gentrification judging by the gourmet coffee shops, French delis and vegan cafes that are popping up along the street.
I was particularly taken with Creperie du Monde at number 51. They rustle up fresh waffles and omelettes alongside the namesake crepes, with a wide variety of delicious-sounding sweet and savoury fillings. Wash it all down with a Climpson & Sons coffee from nearby Broadway market. The little caff is a model of industrial-chic decor, plus it smells amazing from the constant supply of fresh batter being cooked up right at the counter. It was bustling and busy, spilling out onto the pavement outside — a perfect Sunday hangout spot.
There’s plenty more food and goodies on offer from the market stalls running down the street: everything from Japanese okonomiyaki to the now-ubiquitous cupcakes, plus hand-ground coffee and Persian mezzes. (Josh got an Indian Karachi wrap which came with free channa, above.) Plus it looked like some opportunistic shop and cafe owners had got in on the act: one had set up small barbecue for to-go burgers, and a lady was selling handmade sushi plates outside a newsagent. A little ramshackle, in the nicest way.
The main drag’s stalls are mostly foody, but tucked off a side road opposite the creperie there was small vintage and homemade market set up by Hackney Home. Lovely laser-cut jewellery from Chalk‘s stall was tempting me.
The Chatsworth Road market is on every other Sunday, with the next one on May 1st. Make the trip out there if you can, I reckon it’s worth it.