Observer Food Awards

Observer Food Awards have been given away, and two of the winners are two of my favourite places in London.

Maltby Street, Best Newcomer 2011

We’ve discovered Maltby Street much like, I assume, most people have: by visiting Borough Market after a few months’ break and not finding the Booths’ Mushrooms stall – the best greengrocers in London. Them having been the main reason for visiting Borough, I did a quick google check on where the hell have they gone and why they have been replaced by the garish supermarket-style fruit&veg ‘vending space’ – and discovered their new location was some 15 min away on foot along the railway tracks from London Bridge.

There was much more than Booths on Maltby Street, however. Almost all my favourite Borough places have moved to the quirky row of railway arcades – Kappacasein, Mons Cheese, Topolski… the hub of it all is the Monmouth Coffee roastery, with throngs of hip-and-not-so-hip forming a long, orderly queue beside a lady selling home-made ice-cream from a piaggio scooter. Further along, beyond a warehouse full of old radiators and antique theatre equipment, fans of basque ham sit on wooden benches, drinking Kennel beer and organic wine from Auvergne.

What is the main draw of the place is the atmosphere, the community. This is guerilla gourmet war, fought among council estates, youth centres and disused railway tracks. The railway arches create a climate somehow reminiscent of 1950’s Akihabara or Shibuya, except with food instead of electronics.
If this is the future of London’s food scene, I’m all in.

Koya, Best Cheap Eat 2011

What can be said about this place that hasn’t been said yet? Everyone who needs to know, already knows about Koya Udon. One of the only two Japanese restaurants I know of in London which could seriously with the best Kyoto and Tokyo have to offer.

Congratulations to all the winners!