If you’ve ever been in Duke of York Square on a Saturday you will’ve discovered the amazing array of street food stalls that make up Partridges food market. Now more than ten years old, the market is a great platform for new artisan food traders to get their name out there, as well as being a staple in the weekend calendar for locals to get their lunch time feed and dinner party supplies. Startisans (a mash-up of ‘start-up’ and ‘artisan’) run the market and are sister company to Patridges, the Royal Warrant-holding grocery store.
We caught up with John Shepherd, owner of Partridges, the family-run Chelsea institution and one of the few remaining independent, family-run food stores in central London to find out his 5 favourite food markets and the standout traders at each.
Contemporary Italian Sweets
This is where we started running markets 11 years ago and originally thought up the Startisans concept. Every Saturday we invite 70 start ups and artisans onto the square, attracting upwards of 15,000 customers each week. We have so many great traders attending from award-winning Fins and Trotters (fish and chips) to oysters and sushi and great bread from Wapping Sourdough, but one of my favourites that started at the market is Lavolio. Lavinia Davolio has created the most amazing contemporary Italian sweets made in the traditional way. It is a real blend of creativity and heritage. This Great Taste Award winning company has also really caught on with the customers in our shop so is one to try!
Every Saturday 10am-4pm.
Gourmet Bubble and Squeak
The forecourt of this beautiful church had been long established as a craft market throughout the week when we were invited to bring our lunch market on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s such a tranquil area and only yards from Piccadilly Circus and the reception we’ve received from the community around this iconic location has been amazing. One of my favourite traders here is Bubbleand, run by husband and wife team Rupert and Marita Smith. Rupert, a highly skilled chef, has turned the traditional British Bubble and Squeak into a gourmet classic with a number of interesting options including vegetarian. My favourite is the Classic Squeak. Delicious, filling and very good value.
Every Monday and Tuesday 11am-3pm
Paleo Food and New Drinks Brands
This former warehouse at the back of a building in Covent Garden has been transformed into a space which allows start up businesses to sell their food direct to the public. It also hosts the VBAD drinks market every Friday evening, VBAD meaning Vintners, Brewers and Distillers. The event aims to celebrate the great revolution in new drinks being made and developed in London. During lunchtimes one of my favourite traders here is Feed Me Primal run by Gemma Callander and one who has helped make Startisans a real destination on Mondays and during the rest of the week. Gemma sells paleo food which is grain free, gluten free and extremely popular! A unique concept. The building also has a great roof terrace in the summer. Two other stalls that deserve a mention here are everyone’s favourite Souvlaki Street aka Conor and Evi who make the best Greek wraps in town and Bad Brownies who make the baddest, most delicious brownies. Despite achieving great success on Dragon’s Den, Bad Brownies are true to their roots, still trading at Startisans.
French Caneles by the Tower of London
A great location for a market, Tower Hill Terrace is nestled in between the Tower of London and All Hallows by the Tower. It is one of those unknown and underused spaces of London that comes alive every Wednesday when 20 food traders sell their food to office workers, tourists and local residents. It is our newest market and we so are still in the process of building it. One of my favourites here is Babelle run by Nicolas Swetter who makes and sells the most beautiful caneles – pastries originally from Bordeaux with custard in the middle wrapped in a caramelised crust. What confirms Babelle’s genius are the amazing designs that make these the perfect gourmet gift. Truly stunning!
Every Wednesday 11am-3pm.
It is very difficult narrowing the choice down to 5 but for the final choice I have gone for somewhere that should be a World Heritage site. We run Guildhall Yard market monthly, perched above the Roman Forum in the heart of the City – a great use of a historical location. We bring 20 traders here on the Thursday of the month when the Court of Common Council is being held, the haze of tradition and pomp hovers over the market. The trader I would like to mention here is Deeney’s. Carol Deeney has created her own brand with Deeney’s Haggis Toasties. Not only do they fly the flag for Scotland among all the other foods from around the world but they are absolutely delicious, especially on a chilly day. When the toasties are being made it is one of the most unforgettable scents and causes immediate hunger pangs (at least in me). The smart money goes for the Macbeth; hot haggis, cheddar, caramelised onion and rocket.
Penultimate Thursday of the month, 11am-3pm.
If you want to explore more markets, Expedia have created the ultimate guide to London’s street food markets. Filter by ‘open today’ or use the interactive map to discover traders and a bit about the history of each market. See it here.
Check out the traders mentioned above: Lavolio at Duke of York Square, Bubbleand at Piccadilly Market, Feed Me Primal and Bad Brownie at Startisans, Babelle at Tower Hill Terrace, Deeney’s at Guildhall Yard.