CHATSWORTH RD MARKET - SO WORTH THE SCHLEP
We fell on Chatworth Rd Market in Homerton by accident one Sunday, in the neighborhood and looking for one of those great little Turkish BBQ grills (as you do. We scored one immediately from the great fruit’n’veg shop there).
Loved it immediately; apart from anything else, it was our first exposure to the heroic Abiye and his Big Apple Hotdogs. Despite his increasing renown, he’s still there every Sunday, slinging his excellent wares down the necks of happy locals.
But since that first visit just a few months ago, the place has really taken off. There are crafts and vintage stalls, and a whole slew of interesting food snarfing opportunities. On a bit of a gorge, we managed flaky, buttery pies filled with Thai spiced chicken; a cinnamon and almond scented chicken b’stilla from outside the truly gorgeous deli, L’Epicerie; pumpkin and pecan brownies; and a whole load of Japanese goodies like freshly fried chicken karaage with sweet chilli and tempura prawn rolls.
Apart from Abiye, the two most interesting stallholders are Fumio at Sho Foo Doh who’s making gorgeously gooey okonimiyaki, glazed with his special sweet sauce and topped with spices, handfuls of spring onions and mayo. It’s a thing of squelchy, satisfying loveliness (and coincidentally the only half-decent pic above).
Then there’s What the Dickens, the tweed-clad natty chaps; ‘besuited and uncommon gentlemen’, they call themselves. Their short, bewitching menu offers kedgeree; rich, mustardy devilled kidneys; and a fat roll stuffed with their own-cured bacon and scallops. This is a Billingsgate workers’ breakfast favourite, and they figured - correctly - if done with superior ingredients it would be a hit. They hand-grind their own coffee, too.
But the Chatsworth Rd shops and cafes themselves are a treat: there’s a wonderful, almost sweet-smelling butchers where we pick up a vast ham for a couple of quid. The veg shops sells curiosities like fat, pickling cukes, and we got the finest doughnut peaches in summer. Cute little Creperie du Monde sells fine crepes and excellent coffee - staff are every bit as cute as the attractively distressed-looking shop.
And the latest arrival, punky, Manga-y Cakey Muto is a hoot. If you ever wanted to eat cakes shaped like octopuses while a stately marmalade cat watches you unblinkingly, here’s the place to do it. Pies, too, plus crumbles, cupcakes, brownies… the full sugary overload.
On a day when every street and market in London was clogged with grim-faced Christmas shoppers, elbows sharpened and radiating passive agression, Chatsworth Road was a gorgeous destination. The pop-up in the old dentists dispensing Bloody Marys and mulled cider was an extra little bonus. As was, um, the skiffle band. Top East London fun all round.