I think Maltby Street Market might be my new favourite market. This little market is located just over Tower Bridge in Bermondsey and is only open on Saturdays between 9 am and 2 pm. What had motivated me to finally get down there was Time Out's description of St. John's custard doughnuts which they advised go quickly. My friend at work had also sung the market's praises. I intended to get down there at about 10 in order not to miss anything but well, it's a Saturday so that was always going to be ambitious.
I did manage to get there before 11 though and at first I was rather underwhelmed. There's not much to it. But then I thought, well, how much do you need? Probably two cheese places, tops - a couple of places that do meat, a bakery, and a few options of food to eat on the go. Maltby Street Market provides all this with the added bonus that the hordes that crowd Borough Market just a stone's throw away still haven't discovered it. I was really surprised that there were so few people here. What it does mean (I felt) was that, unlike Borough where you can practically go there for lunch and have your fill by grazing on all the free offerings, here I felt I could really only try if I was serious about buying.
The market isn't a traditional market of makeshift stalls - a lot of the vendors have permanent pitches within the railway arches. If you're a foodie then there are a few familiar names - Monty's Deli, Speckmobile and Sorbitum. And also Bea's of Bloomsbury's and St John's bakery have arches on the other side of the tracks on Druid St as opposed to Maltby Street proper. But it all counts as the same place. There was an amazing looking bakery with both sweet and savoury stuff but I didn't see what it's name was, and had already bought my delights from St John's so couldn't allow myself something from there as well. If anyone knows it, please feel free to leave a comment letting me know. And there were a few unfamiliar names to me - somewhere doing Latin American type food (mental note made to go back to try their cheese bread), a Turkish place serving coffee in little copper pots lovely enough to make me wish I drank coffee and a sweet-looking little gin bar, but it was a little early in the day to try them out. There were also a couple of grocery stalls, one boasting it supplies top London restaurants. But I wasn't there for healthy stuff.
So I went round to St John's and bought myself a custard doughnut. I also succumbed to the lovely looking mini Eccles cakes and bought one of them as well. I must confess I had no idea what an Eccles cake was although I did suspect it would have raisins in it as all English 'buns' and 'cakes' seem to have fruit in them. Sadly, this was the case, but happily, they were just one big ball of them so I just picked off the incredibly delicious pastry around them.
The custard doughnut was also pretty good, although I don't know if it's worthy of a Time Out 100 Best Dishes. I needn't have worried about them selling out - there was practically a full tray of them. The custard was admittedly fabulous - so light and with just the right hint of vanilla. But the doughnut pastry I found only so-so.
As you walk into Maltby Street market there's a garage dedicated to Porsche's and round the corner there is an antiques store. And as you go in, there seems to be a stall also selling antiquey bric-a-brac. I saw this: