What: So it turns out that Camden Market is much more than a thriving metropolis for overpriced goth wear, dubious looking drug alternatives and cheap fast food. Not only have their food stalls improved overall, from which they are part of 1000 plus stalls, but the vegan offerings are plentiful and varied.
New? Hardly, Inverness Street in Camden Town started selling local foodstuffs from the beginning of the 20th century. It expanded in 1974 to include a small weekly crafts market that operated every Sunday near Camden Lock which then developed into a large complex of markets that over a quarter of a million people visit each week.
Where? Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF www.camdenmarket.com
On the menu: Being an alternative hubbub, Camden has made leaps and bounds when it comes to vegan food. Not only are you not limited to any kind of health conscious or raw bar type options but there is loads of indulgent junk food all in one place, from pie and mash at Young Vegans to hash potatoes at Hashgreen. More recognisable names like Voodoo Ray’s and Crosstown Doughnuts have a home in Camden too with vegan choices like the ‘Queen Vegan’ pizza, made with artichoke hearts, green olives, red onion, sun blush tomatoes, tomato sauce and green sauce, and strawberry and elderflower doughnuts.
The Look: It’s Camden Market so it’s stalls galore, mostly in a partly covered labyrinth that at first seems overwhelming but eventually you get the knack of it. If you’re lucky the food stall will have a few spare seats but if not, all the food is made ready to take-away and there is seating in the courtyard.
What We Ate: I’m not usually a big veggie burger fan, I find the idea of the usual bean patty unimaginative and an odd choice to put beans between bread, mostly because it tends to be quite dry. With that in mind I was excited to try the seitan schnitzel at VBurger which is a thin slice of deep fried and breaded seitan served with chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, dill gherkins and red onion. It’s one of their most popular items which makes sense as seitan is a lot more exciting than a bean burger but the first bite was mostly the crispy edge and a lot of bread so I was slightly concerned. A few more aggressive chomps and I had gotten to the good stuff; fried seitan, moistened with the mayo and juice from the gherkins and tomato – juicy and original. The up-beet burger made with slow roasted British beetroot and quinoa patty, smoked tomato relish, lettuce, tomato, dill gherkins, sliced red onion, and topped with a garlic and chive aioli was personally recommended and another highlight. Their garlic mayo is very garlicky and I adored it, for my taste nothing can be sweet or garlicky enough.
After a wander round the eclectic market enough space was made to make a visit to Young Vegans, a vegan pie and mash shop serving pies like sweet potato, curry and the breakfast pie which was sold out. My favourite was the seitan and ale pie served with mash and gravy; I don’t know the secret to how they got their pastry so buttery and flaky so I’ll just put it down to special vegan magic.
We didn’t have a chance to try the Osu Coconuts (waistline was not permitting) who make pancakes with coconut water but they smelled amazing when we walked past. Crosstown Doughnuts has an ever-expanding range of vegan doughnuts on rotation at the weekends including Chocolate Truffle, Strawberry & Elderflower, Vanilla Glaze and Yuzu & Matcha but be warned, they are very, very popular and tend to sell out by lunchtime.
What We Drank: You don’t come here for the drinks as options are mostly bottles for take away like water, Innocent smoothies and juices.
Go With: Your vegan friend, but the fun one that still wants to stuff their face with delicious food, not the health conscious one that keeps harping on about the dietary importance of alfalfa sprouts.
Final Word: It’s not Michelin-star food that will blow your ethically sourced wool socks off but nor does it pretend to be, it’s simple fast food and for what it is I think it’s delicious. Vegan food is fast becoming a mainstream requirement that restaurants and food suppliers are taking note of and it’s great to see such an abundance at Camden Market.
Like this? Try these: Find all of the vegan food vendors in Camden here
Camden Market: Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF www.camdenmarket.com