Archives for posts with tag: microtown


Many years ago when I was working at M&S in Lewisham, I would also relief manage the shop in Brixton. It was at the time of the riots and as someone who dipped in and out there, a lesson in dealing with shoplifters and community issues.

Rolling forward some twenty five or so years later I went back to meet friends and discover the burgeoning food scene in this neck of the woods. As I came out of the tube, M&S was opposite me with a new fascia but the same foundations underneath the railway arch. And the same can be said for Brixton itself which has now become gentrified to within an inch of its former life.

Brixton Village has long been a place of great food. Home of the first Franco Manca, the first Chicken Liquor and the first Honest Burger. It has a huge variety of cuisines reflecting the cultural diversity of this city of London. Brixton has long been part of the history of our great city from way back when and the markets here were central to that story. In 2009 the local traders and residents fought hard to stop the development plans that would have destroyed those markets and they were awarded with Grade II status that have protected them and supported them into becoming what they are today.

Mostly it is a story of the inherent community pulling together to protect their independence and build a Microtown that rewards not only themselves, but also everyone in London.


We started our Sunday tour with gin & tonics in Brixton Village made by a Spaniard who was doing much the same as we had in San Sebastian at the Gintoneria. We progressed from their to Pop Brixton which sits behind the Village as the newest addition to the area having opened in May 2015.


This community space houses Asian, Ghanian, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and much more set in a relaxed conglomerate of shipping containers cleverly decorated and arranged to create a fun space to enjoy. There are raised beds of herbs and plants, music stages, craft beers and many artistic stands that come together with a space on top to chill out.


After that we went back through the original market admiring the local produce and amazing fish stalls who would put stands at Barcelona’s La Boqueria to shame. Then one final spin around the enclosed units that house such diversity of food: cheeses, meats, BBQ, Champagne, cakes, crepes, seafood and much more, before grabbing a final gelato back in the Village itself.



All in all this is a great place to go, to chill and to admire what can be done with the support of all the wonderful young, passionate, driven people that want to do it. Go. Support. Enjoy.

There is no doubt that if you want to know what is happening in the burgeoning food scene in London you have to head East in much the same way that you have to head to Brooklyn in New York.

And Saturdays are a day to head to Broadway Market. It epitomises what my friend Howard Saunders, a constant source of controversial opinionated inspiration, calls a Microtown.

At the top end is the green open space of London Fields, The Cat & Mutton pub, Donlon books and the obligatory microbrewer: London Fields Brewery . At the bottom, just along from the canal which takes its waterway from the heart of London’s River Thames, is the equally trendy cycle cafe, Lock 7.

In between is the original F Cooke who are part of the history of the road, still selling pie, mash, liquor and jellied eels as they did in 1900. In addition there are all the traditional high street stalwarts that used to be prevalent before the supermarkets did their thing…

The Butcher – Hill and Szrok are a snazzy master butcher who also have their own cookshop where you can order your meat and then eat it there and then with a glass of wine. Apparently this was the 15th century inspiration for the restaurant scene, or so they say. Whatever it is, the meat is fab.


The Baker – Pavilion Bakery. They sell artisan breads, make amazing meals from them and showcase some of London’s best: Chegworth Valley juice, De Calabria olive oil and Newton & Pott jam, who incidentally produce very near to here and also attend the Saturday market. Their simple window which serves as stock, display and temptation into the brand is simple yet incredibly effective.

CQYRfEMWoAAJKieThe fishmonger – Fin and Flounder who retain all the values of a traditional fishmonger supporting anyone wielding a recipe or helping customers with how to cook their huge range of fish.


Alongside those, come a world of modern day retail classics and food or drink outlets, which start with the most important these days, a third wave coffee roaster and purveyor of a great cup of coffee: Climpson and Sons. I wrote about Climpsons last week after the Coffee festival so won’t bore you any more about their great coffee but believe me, the queue spoke for itself. Set in the middle of this thoroughfare it is the heart of all that Broadway Market represents.

And on a Saturday, the main street is packed full of the market itself which not only brings a snapshot of the best food and retail on offer but is also home for the day to stalls showcasing the many small food producers who are housed within this community. Alongside Newton & Pott are…


Violet Bakery is Claire Ptak’s fabulous cakeshop/cafe. She was previously pastry chef at Chez Panisse and started her business on the market stall here, growing into her own shop in 2010. Whilst she is best known for her American style cupcakes, I remember her for the best birthday cake I ever received and know her to be absolutely finger on pulse with seasonal inspirational baking.


Other producers in the area include the Meringue Girls, London Borough of Jam and Yeast Bakery who sell the best croissants in town (along with an impressive range of trendy Kouign Amann). Their hand crafted viennoiserie come from a team who set out to make the best croissant in London and I would argue they are there. In fact we sell them in Melrose and Morgan and it must be said our sales are stronger than ever.

There are many other shops and stalls to browse through with the extended market now in the schoolyard along with the Netil Market further up Westgate Street, just before the arches housing Yeast Bakery among others. You can have everything that you need to buy: flowers, cheese, meat, bread, fruit & veg etc. along with finding everything that is fashionable to eat: from Bao buns to pulled pork, southern fried chicken to cold pressed juices, toasted cheese sandwiches to salt beef bagels. Along the way are other local craftspeople making jewellery, clothes, accessories, and much more.

The whole area is thriving and is a great way to eat your way through a Saturday afternoon whilst getting a lesson in modern day community and retail. Forget Mary Portas and her governmental reviews, just head to Broadway Market which is estimated to be generating over £2 million annually and as such drives a thriving Microtown.  I highly recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the London food scene and wants to see the possibilities of modern day retailing.