Listen to this article
Borough Market, in the heart of London, will be open for its first weekend of trading since the London Bridge terrorist attacks.
The Financial Times’ headquarters is next door to the market, and over more than a decade I have passed through the market on the way to work, returning to it for coffee, lunch and yet more coffee.
My mental map of the market marks out a network of treats, from the simple pick-me-up of apples and flat peaches at Ted’s Veg to the pesto-gnocchi at La Tua Pasta, thick slabs of ginger cake at Bread Ahead, spicy hearty pulses at Koshari Street and a hit of melted cheese at Kappacasein.
More temptation: the chips and aioli at Elliot’s Café, the pappardelle with ragù at Padella (if you can get through the queue), the croquettes at Lobos and, if you are a cook, the copper pans and Japanese mandolins at Borough Kitchen.
The market’s identity lies in its history. Nicholas Lander, the FT’s restaurant critic, notes that 2,000 years ago it was a market for trading geese. And it is still changing, now home to established restaurants, up-and-coming stalls and experimental efforts by young chefs, such as the pop-up Eighty-Six List at 1 Cathedral Street.
After more than a week of suspended trade, workers returned and the market reopened on Wednesday after the horror of the attacks, in which eight people were killed and scores injured.
Large crowds have already visited in solidarity and here, FT journalists and friends have shared their favourite haunts and hidden tips in support of the traders and businesses that call Borough Market home.
John Ridding, FT chief executive
The Ridding Smoked Mackerel pâté has been on the menu of Wright Brothers for several years now — a mark of how much I have consumed and the fact that I do a lot of meetings there.
But — an important but — Wright Brothers is one of three regular restaurant haunts.
I alternate with Brindisa (Spanish food) and El Pastor (Mexican tacos) for my Monday pre-board meeting lunch — I always eat alone on Mondays to prepare. They serve different styles of food but what they have in common is exceptionally nice people.
No morning can start without a macchiato from Monmouth. Apart from the best coffee in London, they have also provided support for the FT pricing strategy. When they put their prices up, there is zero impact on the long queues (probably the longest queues for coffee in London). If you have a great product, coffee or journalism, people are willing to pay.
Tim Hayward, FT restaurant critic
For me, Borough was the epicentre of what we glibly call the “food renaissance” in the UK. It’s been part of the capital’s food history for as long as anyone can remember. Pioneers such as Monmouth, Brindisa and Neal’s Yard chose it as a base when it still felt like a frontier. Since then, it’s been through the same mad phases we all have, sometimes cutting edge, sometimes old school, sometimes geekily specialist, sometimes so populist it’s hard to move. Borough is like family — inspiring of fondness and love, and irritation, always there and always “home”.
The attacks shocked us all, but what I am beginning to hear are stories of heroism among my industry that frankly leave me floored.
Most of these people are kids, working insane hours and taking home fairly average wages. It takes a very special kind of person, someone who lives and breathes “hospitality” right down to their guts, to step into a situation where knives are being waved in defence of customers. That is pretty much the ultimate definition of hospitality — come in to my space and I will look after you, come what may.
I do not think most people will necessarily recognise this, and I do not think all of these stories will get the coverage they might deserve, but nothing has made me as proud of my industry as the events at Borough have.
Martin Wolf, chief economic commentator
I have two favourite places. The first is Roast, an excellent restaurant, perched above Borough Market in a huge greenhouse, which offers thoroughly English, yet imaginative, food.
My second favourite is a florist, Chez Michèle, which offers a large variety of elegant and colourful arrangements at all times of the year. Whenever I think I should give my wife some flowers, that is where I go.
Lionel Barber, FT editor
I like The Ginger Pig, where the pork is spicy and the prices are right.
Robert Shrimsley, FT editorial director
Forget the delights of the upmarket restaurants, my true taste of Borough Market has to be the £6 prawn wrap from Applebee’s (although the bacon sandwich from Maria’s market café runs it a damn close second).
The fresh prawns are griddled in front of you, wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce and a piquant sauce. Applebee’s has a fine fish shop and restaurant too but the queues outside are all for the stall selling the prawn wraps. Buy a fresh juice from the stall by Roast in the market, sit in the sunshine near Southwark Cathedral and round it off with a coffee from Monmouth — and maybe a Boston Brownie (with cranberries) from Konditor and Cook.
Roula Khalaf, FT deputy editor
I will not forget that awful night at Black & Blue but I am glad to be able to reclaim my favourite spot on its sunlit front terrace.
Crispin Somerville, co-owner of El Pastor
Richard Haward’s Cherrystone clams are consistently perfect.
My all-time favourite pint is Harvey’s Sussex Best at our neighbours, The Market Porter (the landlord once told me how much they get through, which accounts for its vibrancy).
My current cheese obsession is the texture and bite of tyrosine crystals, often found in some of the aged Beauforts and Comtés available in the market, and I’m unable to walk past Bread Ahead’s doughnuts without accidentally gorging on one, regardless of time of day.
James Lamont, FT managing editor
The fish are half-price at the fishmonger’s on Saturday afternoon at about 5pm, and good gelato at 3Bis, an Italian ice-cream parlour.
I also love the smell of the different street foods on the way to work along the market side of Southwark Cathedral, especially the Ethiopian food.
Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca
Borough Market is a leading light for British food culture. It started with truly enlightened thinking, supporting small businesses and resisting the easy lure of big businesses with deeper pockets. The result is an extraordinary mix of independent food businesses, one of London’s leading tourist attractions and a model that people have attempted to copy across London with limited success. To wander through the market is to have your senses assailed with glorious, carefully tended ingredients — it is bliss.
Farhana Yunis, FT executive assistant
Did you know the location of Bridget Jones’s flat in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary is above The Globe pub?
Ben Hall, FT world news editor
At De Calabria, a stall in the central covered section of the market from Thursday to Saturday, you can buy grassy olive oil, aromatic honey and spicy ’Nduja sausage.
Jancis Robinson, FT wine correspondent
The toasted cheese sandwiches sold at Kappacasein epitomise all that’s great about Borough Market for me: innovative, fresh and delicious. Nourishing in every way. Long may it thrive.
Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Honey & Co, restaurant
It is very possible that the reason we moved to London was a visit to Borough Market. Seeing all that incredible produce, the careful producers and fussy importers, the people milling about looking for a culinary discovery or treat, waiting in line for their chorizo sandwich, the place always feels like a celebration of good living.
We love Neal’s Yard and never leave there without a tub of their excellent yoghurt, we always stop at the two girls who sell swiss cheese cut from massive wheels — we call them the Gruyère sisters, and we adore Elliot’s, a place that serves the kind of food we always want to eat. Our favourite place is above the market, at Roast. We come early on weekends and have the best English breakfast in town and watch the market fill up through the big beautiful windows.
Isabel Berwick, the FT’s assistant features editor, and David Firn, weekend news editor, take a look at the mood in Borough Market after its reopening
Hugh Carnegy, FT executive newspaper editor
My top tip is the Wild Highland venison burger at the Furness Food Hut. I defy you to find a more delicious takeaway burger anywhere. Just watch out for the juices which can all-too-easily escape down your shirt.
Jonathan Ford, FT City editor
My discovery is Padella, the pasta joint owned by Jordan Frieda, the son of hairdresser to the stars, John Frieda. Short menu, buzzy atmosphere, but mainly mind-bendingly good rustic Italian pasta dishes — in my book the ultimate comfort food.
The main drawback is the secret bit; for a hidden gem it has become depressingly well known and you have to get there about midday if you want to squeeze along the zinc bar or behind one of the subterranean tables.
Dear readers, if you have any tips, please add them in the comments . . .
Get alerts on Southwark when a new story is published