Aug 23, 2010

Best London Markets - Portobello

Markets in London are a full on social occasion, and not just a place to buy parsnips. The intimidating metropolis remains somewhat of a country maid. Now a sprawling, gritty and slightly intimidating metropolis, London was once, not so long ago, a jumble of small villages living in relative isolation. Londoners still enjoy remnants of village life. Boroughs are still, somehow, small towns of their own, and people tend to centre their whole life, social and otherwise, quite close to home. London’s many markets are an integral part of this tradition. People go to markets to shop, but mostly to hang out, really, to meet friends, and get wasted (it s England, it s always ultimately about getting wasted).

Perhaps the most famous London market, and certainly the touristiest, is Portobello, which was made famous by Notting Hill, you know, that perfectly lovely little romantic comedy which just about ruined that side of town ( The market is still a great way to spend a Saturday, with plenty of shops littered with kooky antiques, vintage clothes, and food stalls and restaurants. Though I always tend to eat at the Sausage and Mash under the bridge near Lancaster Gate, at the end of the market, but that’s just me and I have no imagination sometimes. I can’t resist the diner vibe, the myriad sausage options, and the creamy mash, in plain or leeky version. And then there’s sticky toffee pudding for desert, in all its buttery, “molassy” decadence. Enough carbs to make your eyes roll back in delight intheir sockets.

S& M at Portobello, image courtesy of www.

But if you’re in Noting Hill and looking for top nosh, go to Assaggi, the Italian joint, undoubtedly some of the best grub in town. This is a truly elegant joint, with the finest ingredients this side of the Channel, beautiful, understated primi, lovely cuts of meat and fish, and delicate deserts. The ambiance is airy, classy and understated. The wine list is well stocked with Italian classics, and the waiting staff are a joy. The restaurant sits over a pub, so you can head down for a few extra drinks if you fancy. Do book ahead.


39 Chepstow Place
W2 4TS
tel.: 02077925501

S&M Portobello
268 Portobello Road
W10 5TY
Telephone: 020 8968 8898

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