I imagine that when most people think about food in London one of the first places that comes to mind is Borough Market on the South Bank with its resident food trader stands and pop-up stalls selling yummy treats to foodies from all over the world.
I am lucky enough to work just around the corner from Borough Market but those of you who have been there on your lunch break when you are not being a “tourist” know how absolutely packed it can be with dawdling sightseers. Not to mention that £7.50 for lunch every day does take it’s toll on your wallet.
That’s why I decided that I would do the hard work for you and scout out the best lunches at Borough Market than come in at £5 or under. It goes a little something like this….
Gastronomica: parma ham and mozzarella Panino sandwich – £5 hot/£4.50 cold
A little off the beaten track, this place is tucked in around the back of the market just north of tourist central where the massive trays of paella are – if you see the juice stand and the fresh pasta stall then you’re very close.
Gastronomica is a really lovely Italian delicatessen selling all types of fresh Italian cheeses, breads and charcuterie so it’s worth checking out just for that. They also serve hot or cold fresh sandwiches made out of super-long ciabattas that look like a giant’s picnic.
You can choose from meat, cheese or vegetarian fillings and they toast them for you while you wait. I opted for a parma ham and mozzarella hot sandwich with rocket. The bread was good and crusty outside yet with a lovely, soft inside. The saltiness of the parma ham oozed together with the creaminess of the melted mozzarella and there was a bit of rocket chucked in for good measure. It probably could have done with a crack of black pepper and some roasted peppers for me, but I was happy.
Next time I will let the fat kid inside me have the salami instead.
Wyndham House Poultry: chicken burger – £5
This place is slap-bang in the middle of the market but strangely seems to get overlooked a bit by the crowds passing by. People are stupid though because this place is great! They sell chicken wraps, chicken burgers or chicken wings all served with rocket, sweet chilli sauce, mayonnaise and homemade salsa. I opted for the chicken burger and was really impressed with how yummy it was – the brioche buns are nice and soft, the burger itself was great, really juicy and not dry at all.
Plus the accompaniments make the whole thing really drip with flavour. The burgers are served with a big old wad of napkins, mine had five (I counted) and they were all necessary. This was a delicious bargain and I will definitely be back. In fact, I have been, and it was just as good the second time around.
Ethiopian Flavours: Doro Tibs Chicken Combo – £4 medium/£5.50 large
In the heart of the market stalls along the back and next to the church you’ll find this little stand most days. I joined the queue one day on a whim and was not disappointed! I had the chicken combo which consists of Halal chicken breast cooked in huge pans right in front of you, rice, Injera bread and your choice of two sides.
The chicken was soft and juicy with onions, green peppers and tomatoes. The rice had little delicious hints of cardamon and the soft, spongy texture of the Injera bread was something I had never tried before but I really enjoyed. The sides I opted for were Atakilt Alich’a (cabbage and carrot in a sweet and sour stew) and Yekik Alich’a (yellow split peas in an aromatic sauce of onions, ginger, garlic and bishops weed) which were both as tasty as they sound. It was all super filling too, I couldn’t even finish my medium sized box!
Hobbs: BBQ Pulled Pork Bap – £4.50
Just on the other side of the road that runs through the market is Hobbs who specialise in hand carved roast meats and salt beef and things like that. I’m not a super massive fan of pulled pork normally but I know that a lot of people are, and at £4.50 it seemed rude to exclude it.
I was given a nice, soft bap filled full of soft, squishy pork coated in lots of yummy barbecue sauce. The pork was not dry at all and was slightly spicy but nothing too wild. Placed on top were some spinach leaves and a splodge of coleslaw, although this seemed to be just the bog standard ‘catering’ coleslaw that comes in those big, white tubs. I think it would have been a bit nicer if it had been some chunky, homemade coleslaw, and maybe some rocket instead of spinach for a bit more of a bite. For under a fiver though this was very tasty and definitely worth trying if you’re into the pulled pork type thing.
Horn Ok Please: vegetarian Indian Street Food – £5
There is always a queue at this stall which is normally a good sign. It’s no wonder really, not only because vegetarian options are still slightly outnumbered at the market, but mainly because the food served here is packed with tons of flavour. They serve Moong Dal Dosa: a spiced lentil crepe filled with masala potato and served with chana chaat (chickpeas topped with bits and bobs). There’s also some great cooking to watch during the preparation too, each dosa is cooked fresh right in front of you and the sides and toppings are added to your taste.
The result is a good soft dosa full of lovely warm, smooshed masala potatoes with mildish Indian spicing and mustard seeds, sitting alongside chickpeas with hints of turmeric; not too soft and still with a bit of a bite. This is all topped with chopped red onion, coriander, pomegranate seeds, some kind of green chutney and sev (a fried noodle made from chickpea flour) to add some crunchy texture. I think there is possibly meant to be a splodge of yoghurt but this was missed on mine. It was certianly not lacking though. The whole thing was very yummy and filling, I would definitely go back for more and I’m not even a vegetarian.
Roast Hog Roll – £5.50
I felt like I couldn’t do a lunch review of Borough Market without including some hog roast somewhere – this stall always draws a crowd, even if it is just to look at the entire pig they have on a spit.
I know this is also 50 pence over my £5 limit, but sod it! Here that extra 50p will buy you roast hog marinated with rosemary, fennel, garlic and spices served with rocket and apple sauce. Not bad eh? The rolls are nice, big, square ciabatta guys with lots of big trenches in them to catch those porky juices. They certainly do cram a lot of pork in for you and a good amount of crackling too.
Because the pork is served sort of ‘wet’ this was a fairly messy roll to eat as the juices collect at the bottom and start leaking out of napkins and running down your arm (I definitely had to wash my hands and face afterwards), but I felt like it was all worth it – a really delicious, juicy treat that makes you remember why you come to Borough Market in the first place.