I’ve ventured into London a few times recently. Trains are running as normal, and as long as I choose my timings to avoid any form of rush hour, the carriages aren’t too full and everyone is wearing masks. It’s only a short journey in from St Albans – 18 minutes to St Pancras, or an extra 10 to Blackfriars. I can also go in from a nearby station, Watford Junction, and be at Euston in 15 minutes. That means I can keep my transport risk to a minimum, and then use good old Shanks’s pony to explore.
So come and join me as I go for a food and drink walk. In fact we’ll do two walks in one, one night and one day, so there’ll be a good choice of edible options.
After a good 10 mile wander on a cold and damp Saturday, I was ready to eat by early evening. Weighed down by pangs of hunger (and my camera backpack), I headed eagerly to Borough Market. I hadn’t booked anything, but I was there by 18:30, armed with a new app, WalkUp, that lets you add yourself remotely to a queue for a table and then be notified when to turn up. We’ve got far too much remote and contactless service these days, but I have to say this tool was handy.
One of my favourite places, Tapas Brindisa, only had a 20 minute queue showing so I added my name and wandered that way. I’m only eating outside these days, and I got a great table, under an umbrella, from where I could watch the passers by. Cold and windy it was, but I couldn’t complain about the ventilation! And the food was as great as ever.
Energy levels revived, I was off to investigate so I’d know what to expect on a future, possibly more organised, visit. And I was walking fast – those fingers and toes needed circulation to warm them up!
Borough Market is a vibrant place during the day, with a vast array of fresh food stalls, and plenty of places to grab a snack or meal. The stalls close at night, but the market is surrounded by some excellent eateries. I knew that at least one of my favourite restaurants, Wright Brothers, had opened tables under the market covering in the evenings to allow better distancing and ventilation, so I headed into the market area to see what was happening.
As expected, the normal food stalls were closed but quite a few extra tables had popped up, and bars and restaurants were buzzing, especially around the edges of the market.
Even at 20:00 they were still setting up extra tables outside and my only problem was that it was hard to tell which tables belonged to which restaurant: several of the restaurants had used the same idea of boosting their distanced capacity by spreading outside.
The following day, the sun shone early morning and there was even a hint of warmth, so I was back in London with my camera. I had a lovely walk on both sides of the Thames and then Borough Market summoned me again.
Needless to say, the sun now went into hiding and the wind picked up again, but nothing gets in my way when food and drink are at the end of the path.
My first stop was a wine place that I had spotted the night before. Bedales has tables inside the market area, but it also has a couple of seats at the front, well partitioned from passers by. A Lebanese rose tempted me and was a great companion to my nosy street watching.
Bedale Street, London, August 2020
Now, time for food. I had spotted a little place, Elliot’s, on Stoney Street, with a few tables out front. I could see some salads and pizzas being devoured by those already there. It turned out they have a bigger area across the road, marked by their bright orange chairs, that I had actually seen being set up the night before. They have called this area, Ell Fresco, and it will be operating until the end of September.
I sat at the back of the Fresco section, hoping for a bit of shelter from the wind, and then struggled to choose from the menu – so much temptation! But courgette flower pizza won.
And more temptation followed. I succumbed, purely to have something to go with the hot coffee that I now needed, of course. And I just remembered to grab a photo before it was all gone. Delicious!
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 31 August 2020
Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walks