Thursday, 23 December 2010


I cannot think of any other reason to visit Camden than to make a pilgrimage to Asakusa, the famed Japanese eatery for the majority of us with budget constraints. Alas, when attempting to secure a reservation at Asakusa, I’m either downtroddenly luckless or phone-ragingly impatient (with its constantly engaged lines), for I’ve yet to sup here. Apart from Drummond Street and of course Asakusa, Camden has little to offer in terms of joints offering a memorable meal. I might well be gazumped by some that NW1 offers more diversity and variety of restaurants than most districts in London, but the bulk of the newer places are annoyingly PRd for the wrong reasons and truth be told they end up confusingly forgotten before you even set foot in them! Was it ‘Made in Camden’, ‘Proud Camden’ or ‘Kentish Canteen’ (I know it’s in NW5, but for a Notting Hillbilly it’s still Camden to me!)? You’ll be forgiven for being baffled.

It was on an occasion I was turned away by Asakusa for the umpteenth time (You! One place…sushi bar and you, no win lottery…actually they were magnanimously more polite than that) that my Dining Companion and I decided to seek tummy solace elsewhere in the vicinity. Luck doesn’t always abandon me without a cause for I remembered reading the great Terry Durack’s review of Camden Market Market Camden Market Tydfil Shaka Zulu Market market summat. Off to Parkway we did.

I would without much R&D classify Market as Modern British but interventions on the menu like chorizo, risotto and onglet (hanger doodah FGS!) suggest otherwise. Market is thus a tad Modern European but without the straying into the bigos or pierógi territory. However the waitresses, who provide a decent service, are from the latter and they speak English miles better than Camden’s own N-Dubz. The ambience during dinner is particularly suited to those who are aversed to bright lights and conforming to first-dates rituals but not so for photography. FYI, the rendering of the photos shown took me a couple of days to make them vaguely presentable but the usual flawed text as with all my posts, never more than ½ hour.

The shot that did no justice to the bread served. I sincerely hope this was homebaked at the premises because it was one of the best I’ve had in memory. The butter accompanied was served at a perfect room temperature (rare and indifferently ignored at most places).

DC’s starter of chicory, beetroot, Stilton and pinenuts.

She was more than happy and I said thank gawd for the Stilton!

My first course came from the daily specials’ board. Ox tongue fritters and mustard mayo.

A wonderfully executed dish and beautifully seasoned. I love tongue dishes and this is in spite of a psychological trait to injure one’s own when eating them. These fritters put to shame to the ones I had at Peter Gordon’s Kopapa recently.

Fussy veggie DC’s mains of risotto, roast cauliflower and hazelnuts.

She was utterly praiseworthy of this dish and thought the chef deserved a triumphus like Cicero and Pompeius Magnus. I tasted a bit and concurred, but felt the rice was slightly undercooked.

My mains of confit duck, boulangère potatoes and red cabbage.

The duck was as good as it gets; crispy, tender and salty enough without the aid of the Dead Sea. The potatoes (think dauphinoise but baked in meat stock instead) were a revelation. The red cabbage, for once not over marinated in vinegar, was subtly sweet and heart-warming

A 5* dish.

The pudding menu is to all intents and purposes a British affair.

The shared poached pear and ginger ice cream confirmed that Market is serious contender for one of the better restaurants I’ve been to this year. The well-cooked fruit had the right amount of watery crunch that boded well with my elderly gums. And the excellent ice cream tickled imagination of strong ginger beer without ten teaspoonfuls of sugar and the fizz. Another 5* deemed.

Market is an overlooked and unheeded joint, maybe it should stay that way, at least you can get a table here without the fiasco that’s associated with Asakusa. Market is not entirely without faults, the coffee served was crap and the grim single page website is food and wine menu-less. But it’s still a splendid place. A big hearty recommendation is warranted.

43 Parkway


Mr Noodles said...

You old contrarian, I can't believe that you're blogging about a gaff that was vaguely fashionable a couple of years ago. Shouldn't you be chasing some place with a 50% discount on a soft opening or whose PR machine will see it reviewed in a multitude of both old and new media outlets?

Joshing aside, the non-veggie stuff looks top notch (not that the veggie stuff doesn't), esp the confit. Have a good one over the festive period!

Kavey said...

Vaguely fashionable a couple of years ago it may have been but I'd not heard of it, so thank you.

I agree that finding good food in the immediate vicinity of Camden tube station is difficult, harder than it used to be even.

I still like El Parador, round the back of Morington Crescent tube, at the top of Eversholt, though I haven't visited regularly since I worked in the Black Cat building late 90s through to early noughties.

But little else I remember from then remains...

Krista said...

Did you know that Market got a Bib Gourmand in 2009? I didn't until I saw the list of restaurants that got Bib Gourmands in Chicago and thought to compare the two cities. I thought Market was good for a neighborhood restaurant, but not particularly special.

bellaphon said...

Mr Noodles- you're ever so encouraging. As you know I can't keep up with all the new openings and there's the competitive streak amongst the newer bloggers to review them, which I’m not partial to.

Kavey- hi there and thanks for stopping by again. It’s funny that you should mention El Parador, it’s apparently the place to go to once you’ve been turned away by Asakusa.

Krista- Like Hereford Road I don’t think Market has the right stuff to convince the stuffy Michelin inspectors to award them more than a Bib Gourmand. The food served here is not pretty or Frenchy enough!