london street food: golborne & portobello roads
I had originally planned to do a street food crawl across London but quickly realised that my stomach could not possibly process that much food at one go, so am instead breaking up the culinary exploration into bits. We began the food tour last Saturday by venturing onto nearby Golborne and Portobello Roads, a stone’s throw from our flat.
Golborne Road is like a Little Portugal and Morocco rolled into one, lined with Morrocan and Portuguese eateries and grocers. The pavements are dotted with makeshift stalls selling bric-a-brac, and a large selection of food stalls selling anything from falafel and kebabs to tagines and grilled seafood. The stalls here are not as bright and shiny as the ones found in portobello market and mostly serve locals rather than tourists, in fact many didn’t even have signs, leaving us clueless as to what they were selling.
We strolled down the road, bypassing the falafel stand, a mobile serving fry-ups and a group of Carribean women chatting in a stall, bare except for 3 covered trays (we assumed this was the Jerk Stand). Halfway up Golborne we found a kebab stand which is apparently popular with the locals and I had expected a queue but there was just one customer and a bored looking vendor.
Unperturbed we went ahead and ordered a lamb and chicken kebab in pita (there’s a choice of pita or baguette) with salad, a squirt of chilli sauce and a dollop of mayonnaise. It was messy to eat but very tasty – the meat smoky and tender. Having whetted our appetite with the shared kebab we wandered a bit further, past the vegetarian stall to the Moroccan Fish stall, drawn by the heavenly smell of grilled seafood.
The stall was a hive of activity, with groups of regulars huddling around the counters and chatting in Arabic. The two chefs were busy grilling fish but would occasionally join in on the conversation.
The seabass cooking on the open grill looked fantastic so we asked for one and it came with a side of chips, salad, baguette and a warm tomato and onion sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked, with soft, flaky flesh and crispy charred skin – a steal at £6. We will definitely be back to try their mini fish tagines, but today we had to press on.
With our appetites dwindling we decided to move on to Portobello Road, but not before getting a large flat white from the Australian-run Market Espresso stand serving smooth, robust Square Mile Coffee.
Once we hit Portobello Market the stalls become much flashier, and a whole lot more crowded. We knew we couldn’t eat much more and I had a hankering for the burgers at the German stall, so headed straight there. On the way we did pass a few enticing stalls, including one dishing up chorizo and bean stew, another selling hog roast, and the festive Jamon Jamon Paella.
After wrestling with the crowds, we finally got to the German stall. The queue gave us plenty of time to agree on what to order – we were torn between the grilled chicken leg (which I’ve had in the past and from what I remember, was pretty darn good) and the chicken burger that many seemed to be having and looked pretty amazing. We settled on the burger (top image) which, although flavourful and juicy, disappointingly a tad underdone. I think next time I’ll stick with the chicken leg.
At this point we were both pretty well-fed, but as always wanted to finish on a sweet note so backtracked to the Churros Garcia stall (next to Spinach and Agushi, made famous by Raymond blanc’s BBC series, The Restaurant).
The churros were delectable – crunchy, not too greasy and loaded with sugar. The hot chocolate it came with was only lukewarm and went cold really quickly, but I preferred it with just the sugar anyway so wasn’t that bothered. The perfect ending to our delicious afternoon of snacking!
More London Street Food: Whitecross Street