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Borough Market [London]

We will be in London in late May. We want to hit the Borough Market. What things there cannot be missed. I have read about Grilled cheese and a chorizo sandwich??? What else. We want to do lunch. What is nearby Tate Modern?

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  1. I wouldn't worry about what not to miss. Wander around and you'll be fine. If you're staying in a self-catering flat, be prepared for great temptation -- and you might want to plan on getting things for a lovely picnic that evening or the next day.

    Neal's Yard Cheese Shop (not the body shop around the corner -- I forget what it's called) is generally considered a must-see, but I'm not that impressed. Good cheeses, yes, but there are good cheeses in the market. And, of course, now that Neal's Yard has gotten in bed with Whole Foods, you can get the same stuff back home.

    1. The Tate Modern itself has some nice food and good views. And just a reminder that the Borough Market is open Thurs. through Saturday but Thursday a lot of the stalls aren't working. If you want a sit-down lunch at the Market, Brindisi Tapas has very yummy food but go early to get a table. There's one place selling salt beef sandwiches (corned beef), but that wasn't my best choice. How can one eat corned beef if it's not on rye bread?!?!

      1. I'm a periodic Boroughist but have never quite found the grilled cheese. Can anyone help me to locate it? Last weekend I saw a toasted cheese sandwich, but suspected that was not the same. I did however succumb to a wedge of Comté, which was so perfect that I ate it on the spot.

        Thanks, BB

        5 Replies
        1. re: bombaybeauty

          You may have seen The Real Thing, BB. Isn't "grilled cheese sandwich" American for "toasted cheese sandwich"?

          I can vouch for the chorizo sandwich from the Brindisi stall - chorizo, rocket, roasted peppers, good bread, oil. Fab.


          1. re: bombaybeauty

            I think the toasted (Grilled) cheese is the same stand that does the raclette. From what I remember, it's easier to find if one enters from the cathedral side of the market. I'll probably try that next time I'm there. To me, toasted and grilled are the same when it comes to cheese sandwiches... bread that's been under a grill or toasted in a pan.

            1. re: zuriga1

              Brilliant, that solves it then. I saw the toasted cheese next to the raclette. Still adapting to British terminology, but for me a toasted cheese sandwich would imply toasting the bread and then inserting cheese whereas grilling involves putting the whole combination on a grill or press. Have the aged M and P visiting this weekend. Will have to try to persuade them that their adult child desperately needs a toasted cheese sandwich or will burst into tears...

              The sandwich I'm currently obsessed with is from Fernandez and Wells on Beak Street. I had a toasted (grilled) mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich there which was first rate, but the one that has been haunting my memory is a toasted croissant sandwich with cheese and tomato. Coffee is excellent as well.



              1. re: bombaybeauty

                Fernandez and Wells sounds like just the spot for a lunch after going to the new Banana Republic on Regent St. I've missed that shop! One of my favorites is brie, walnut and cranberries... haven't seen that yet in London.

                1. re: zuriga1

                  They also have a jamon / prosciutto / cheese/ wine place around the corner on Lexington Street which looks excellent, but I've never managed to walk past those sandwiches without going in... BB

          2. The 2 items that are must haves are the toasted cheese sandwich and chorizo sandwich at Brindisa. Check out some recent pictures I took from my trip to the market.

            1. The L'artisan du Chocolat stall sells bags of random loose pieces for £2. A v good deal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: limster

                Since I don't go often enough, I find things one time and not the next... But these two spots I think I locate now. The grilled cheese looks death-defying and delicious. Being of the vegetarian persuasion I'll pass on the chorizo -- exactly why the toasted cheese is so exciting. Cheers, BB

              2. I rarely go to Borough these days (too busy and full of tourists), but I used to be a regular - how I yearn for the days when it was only once a month! However, I still make an occasional pilgrimage for a jar of Mrs Bassa's garlic pickle - whole garlic cloves in spices. She does some other good chutneys and pastes too.

                I also like the French cheese stall and the fish and game stall (right in the middle of the market). If you've never had potted shrimps, grab some as they're delicious on hot buttered toast.

                Heresy I know, but I find Borough market both overcrowded and hideously overpriced these days. A lot of the regulars like myself, who shopped there rather than grazed, have gone elsewhere.

                10 Replies
                1. re: greedygirl

                  Indeed, I tend to frequent my local market on most weekends, but for the occasional trip Borough is wonderful place. BB

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    I go for corn tortillas and and a loaf of challah. If I wanted to wrestle my way through a crowded market, I could go back "home" and trip over tourists in the Pike Place Market.

                    1. re: nanette

                      I've found challah at the Marks & Spencer in Weybridge... maybe not as good as the Market. I don't think I've ever bought it up in London. I didn't realize you were from Seattle. My younger son has been there for about 17 years.

                      1. re: zuriga1

                        I'm a bit further West of Weybridge, perhaps the challah stops there! I'm going to have a look this afternoon though and see if it makes it past Woking.

                        Yeah, just another transplanted yank on the board! Your son must enjoy Seattle if he's been there that long!

                        1. re: nanette

                          A challah border... could be! I found it in a Tesco once, too - maybe the Weybridge branch which might mean something about that neighborhood. :-)

                          As for my son... you can guess who he works for.

                        2. re: zuriga1

                          Waitrose in North London, eg. Temple Fortune, Brent Cross, Finchley Road, sell challah bread. Do you have a Waitrose near you?

                          1. re: cathodetube

                            Yes, but the ones down in Surrey don't often have challah. If I do ever buy it (for a mushroom bread pudding I like), it's usually from Marks & Spencer. It does the trick - also good for eggie bread aka French toast.

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              Waitrose in Sunningdale usually has challah. I'd be surpised if Weybridge didn't too.

                      2. re: greedygirl

                        If it's the stall I'm thinking of, they are from my part of the world and the shrimps are Morecambe Bay ones. Great as you say, or just as is (with some nice soft bread and even more butter). Also very nice to melt a tub into pasta - needs no more than a grind of pepper and squeeze of lemon.

                        1. re: Harters

                          Indeed, after promising to be brave about the crowds, I found it such an ordeal to get through. I did buy a few hot cross buns, and a perfectly ripe Comté cheese, which I ate on the spot. I did manage to find the toasted cheese, but had just lunched with the parents at the Tate. At least now I know where it is for next time!


                      3. I haven't really detected any diminution in quality at BM although yes the prices have gone up and it has been totally discovered by locals and tourists alike. But the same goes for good markets and food stores the world over, the trick is to know when to go to beat the crowds and what the better value items are.

                        For BM, you need to get there first thing in the morning (9am on a Saturday, I think midday on a Friday) to avoid the mayhem. Personally I'm not there for ready made food (always grab a Monmouth coffee mind and if hungover a sausage/bacon sarnie from one of the hole in the wall places), just for ingredients. Fishmonger is good, so too the French traiteur. Also like the greengrocer opposite Brindisa, in season they carry Sicilian toms and muscadet + strawberry grapes from France and Italy respectively, not sure where else in London you can find these items.

                        Btw has anyone tried Shipp's Tea Rooms on the market fringes? As a board, we get lots of queries about BM and where to do afternoon tea, if it's any good, seems like we could recommend killing 2 birds with one stone.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: oonth

                          I agree that you need to get there early. However, I don't see why I should get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning (and the buggy brigade are already there with a vengeance at 9am) to source ingredients I can generally buy locally.

                          I used to like the whole leisurely Borough experience - including a drink in the Market Porter - but it's just too crowded now. No wonder, when a trip to Borough market is among the top ten things for tourists to do in London.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            I tend to agree with you, the real charm of the place is long gone and I'm no morning person :-) I used to work nearby so could do a relatively painless Friday lunchtime run but that's over 3 years ago now. I don't live in London full time these days so only go once or twice a year, partly nostalgically and partly to get the items I mention which I can't find elsewhere. I spent part of last year living in Barcelona and went to the Boqueria 3-4 times a week to stock up and that is nightmarish on the tourist front with people more interested in taking multiple snaps than buying anything. As with BM, I worked out not only when to go to beat the crowds but also how best to navigate the market (which entrance/exit, which channels to use etc).

                            Out of interest, which local markets do you frequent these days?

                            1. re: oonth

                              Co-incidence you should say that about the Boqueria, oonth. I've recently posted something similar on the Spain board - place isnt what it was 10 years ago.

                              I guess Borough is suffering from the same thing. I've only been once, as a tourist, a few weeks back and, whilst it was unpleasantly packed as the morning wore on, folks' accents confirmed they were not locals. Nor, it seemed, were too many people actually doing any "real shopping".


                              1. re: oonth

                                I don't, really. I live near Brixton, but don't tend to buy much veg in the market - I get a weekly box delivered. For meat I use my local butcher, but unfortunately he's closing at the end of the month. We're lucky in that we have lots of places to buy fish and a couple of great delis. I do miss the cheese stall, but I only tend to buy fancy cheeses when we have guests, because Mr GG isn't that bothered about cheese. If I really want the farmer's market experience, there's one on a Sunday in Clapham that's not bad.

                                For me, Borough was at its best a decade ago when it was a monthly treat. I used to mosey on down there with my foodie partner in crime, and we'd have breakfast in the Park Street Cafe (closed down now, although Maria does now have a spot in the market), followed by a good browse for lovely things to eat. *sigh*

                              2. re: greedygirl

                                I think that is the way it is with a lot of open markets. I love BM and a trip to London is incomplete without a chorizo sandwich. i do not go to our local farmer's market very often. In our small city it is crowded and tourists come to it too. It is also a main social event on Saturday AM's to go. If you want to get up very early and go you can get what you want with relative ease. As the day goes on there are more and more people who just want to stand and chat and the aisles get crowded and clogged. I'm not a morning person so some time's DH goes without me. I go when there something special I can't get elsewhere

                              3. re: oonth

                                Someone here recommended Shipp's Tea Rooms - maybe a month or two ago. I wrote down the name because a friend was coming and we were meeting in that area. We ended up with tapas, but the website made it seem as if Shipp's is a pleasant place. I only go to BM at about noon on a Friday. People always think I'm a tourist and try to help me out. I guess that will always be the case. I don't buy much as I take the train and don't like to schlep.

                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  I think a friend of mine went there a while back. She said it was expensive, but appropriately twee.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    At least I now know what twee means. Five years ago, I probably would have needed the dictionary. I don't know the prices, but Shipps sometimes has a minimum charge of £6.50. I don't like when places do that. I found Bea's muffins and cupcakes in Holborn very tasty and probably a normal cost for London, but to me they seemed expensive. I guess it's all relative.

                                  2. re: zuriga1

                                    Think Shipp's have closed down now. Last time I went to Borough they were selling off all their china and teapots. That was a Friday, and I got there at about 2 pm. The crowds thinned out considerably after that. It was a half term and full of kids. Don't think I would ever go on a Saturday. I first went there in 98 and it was much smaller.

                                2. There is an Argentinian stall selling empanadas, dulce de leche, yerba (for mate), alfajores de maizena and other Argy delicacies for those who are interested.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Paula76

                                    Hi, where abouts is this stall as I'm desperately trying to find some Yerba mate

                                    1. re: dehaz

                                      It seemed to me that things at Borough have been moved around and I felt a bit lost a few weeks ago. There used to be a map on their website that showed where stalls are, so maybe there's a new one now and you could check.

                                  2. I would like to add a wonderful cake shop into the mix.. You will find this within Borough market on the way towards the Thames. The shop is called Konditor and Cook and there are around 5 in London i believe. Have a Google search as they make delightful cakes for desert.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: BeefeaterGin

                                      Tried Konditor once and have to say I wasn’t too impressed. The cakes were very dry and covered in icing which seemed to be made out of granulated or castor sugar. The texture certainly wasn’t to my liking.

                                      TBH, unless I’ve missed something cake baking in standards in Borough market are a bit poor – there’s a lot of stalls selling brownies – but honestly brownie isn’t exactly hard to make. Plus there’s another stall which is usually opposite the barber shop (don’t worry you don’t end up in the pies) – their cakes are always collapsed in the centre – I’m sure they taste great, but if I want cakes that have collapsed I can do that in my own kitchen (not that my cakes collapse).

                                      1. re: grobeaar

                                        I agree with you on the brownies, I don't get it, they aren't that good and people rave.

                                    2. Yes, I have to agree that Borough Market is pretty overwhelming these days. I was there a few weeks ago and nearly had a panic attack it was so crowded. I was trying to do my normal shopping there and ended up coming home with a range of complete impulse purchases and nothing that I had meant to get!

                                      In terms of what you can't miss, I don't think there's any one thing. Wander around and try the free samples of everything. There are a lot of places selling small snacks and it's worth trying as much as you can stand. I had a scallop thing that was amazing. Found a picture of it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xwelhami...

                                      1. Where would you recommend for breakfast in the area?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: veryberry

                                          Depends on the day of the week & what you want.

                                          Cup of coffee & all you can eat bread/butter/jam at Monmouth Coffee Mon - Sat
                                          Spanish breakfast at Tapas Brindisa Fri-Sat
                                          Maria's (inside Borough Market) for full english, bubble & squeak etc Wed - Sat
                                          Pastries from Konditor & Cook.
                                          Rabot Estate if you prefer chocolate emphasized breakfast.
                                          Flour Power City for an almond croissant that will immediately stop up your arteries.