40 Maltby Street

April 7th, 2012

As a food lover and enthusiastic cook I am interested in all things gastronomic. Although I like cooking at home for friends more than eating out, as everybody is so busy these days, I get to do the latter more. A place where I’ve managed to combine the two for the last few years is Borough Market by London Bridge. Regularly on a Friday, I will trundle along to meet a friend for an early lunch at Brindisia; we normally talk each other through current projects, then I browse the stalls picking out whatever seasonal specialty catches my eye to take home and experiment with over the weekend.

Borough Market is no locals’ secret and acts like honey to the bee for tourists. In recent times, I have found the difficulty navigating through the crowds acting as a deterrent to having a real good root around. The popularity has also had a direct consequence for the traders, with increased crowds and growing competition leading to an increase in rents. Many of the original traders have decided to up sticks and decamp to Maltby Street, which is about a fifteen minute walk away in Bermondsey.

For months I’d been hearing about Maltby St Market and recently managed to make it along to lunch, where the traders set up in and alongside railway arches. My hoped for peaceful shopping was, of course, nothing but a pipe dream. This new market’s cover had been blown long ago. However, with an insider’s knowledge to get there early (before noon) to eat we headed straight to 40 Maltby Street and pulled up bar stools around a palette of wine cases acting as a makeshift table. We ordered a bottle of vino and most of the menu. One of my favourite things to do.

This is what the website says. I love how understated they are.

“Located in the warehouse of Gergovie Wines we sell wines produced by a handful of wine-makers who eschew the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favour of letting the land and the grape speak. At our warehouse you can buy these wines to take home or to drink by the glass or bottle at our bar. We have a small kitchen serving food through the evening on a Thursday and Friday and all day on a Saturday.”

The menu was what I guess you would call Italian Tapas. Served up with good Sourdough bread and cold salty butter. Lunch, the actual act of eating minus the waiting and wine drinking, lasted approximately five minutes. In fact I was annoying everybody as I made them wait extra seconds so I could take pictures of the dishes.

I’m not going to critique the food as I am all too aware of the armies of pseudo food critics out there doing just that right now. What I am going to say is that it was refreshing and exciting to visit a place that was just doing what it was doing really well. Making well thought out meals using the ingredients of the season. The tiny box of a kitchen at the end of the bar was quietly getting on with turning out dish after dish of excellent food to groups of people delighted to be getting it. The waiters and bar staff seemed to really care about what they were doing; our waiter was passionate about the wines they stocked and helped us make a really nice selection.

Egg Mayonaise

Romanesco and Parmesan

Smoked Cods Roe on Monksbeard and Bottarga

Spelt, Kid, Artichoke and Wild Garlic

Tongue and Lentils

Our happy table.

Afterwards, a little hazy after some pre-noon libation we wandered the rest of the market and took a look through Lassco which is also on the street. Definitely worth a repeat and further exploration.

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