25 August 2014

Street Food in Lewisham and Cocktails in a Job Centre

When my colleagues ask me on a Monday morning what I got up to at the weekend, it feels like I always give the following response: "I went to [insert street-food market] and then got some cocktails at [insert hipster/pop-up/ironic bar with unusual theme/location]." Saturday was one of those days. It started with a post-run bacon sarnie at St John on Maltby Street and a cocktail (mocktail in my case) at Little Bird, and ended, some hours later, in a less trendy part of London with more of the same. I am a creature of habit.

Lewisham Model Market is run by Street Feast — the same people who organised the Hawker House night market in Hackney earlier this year — and includes some of the same street-food vendors. It is based on Lewisham High Street in a former shopping arcade — the covered areas are useful for days when the weather isn't kind, but tonight the rain stopped just as I arrived.

We did a quick circuit of the market, eyeing up potential dinner prospects. While I pondered, I ordered a frozen tequila colada (£6) from one of the bars, which was just like an adult Slush Puppy. You could also order a sharing-sized serving of the cocktail, which came served in a coconut for £13, which would have been more enjoyable on a warmer evening.

Every time I see a Breddos Tacos stand or van, I am tempted to order some because they are awesome, but this time I wanted to try something new. Specifically, an amazing pulled pork bun (£7) from Smokestak. The meat was juicy and tender, with the flavour being set off perfectly by the honey mustard BBQ sauce. Finger-lickin' good.

Afterwards, I was stuffed, but my fellow street-fooders and I found room to share a portion of arancini (£5) from Cheeky Italian. They were good too, although would probably have worked better as a starter.

There was a really nice atmosphere in the market, and as many young families there as hipsters (and hipster young families). The earlier downpour also meant that the market was bustling but not too crowded, and the queues weren't too long. NB, you have to pay £3 to get in after 7 pm, so definitely try to go early if you can.

Too full to eat any more, we went in search of somewhere for a nightcap. We wanted to go to Little Nan's on Deptford Broadway, but when we got there, we found they had moved on to a new home. Instead, we walked up Deptford High Street and paid a visit to Job Centre. Yes, that's right: a bar in a former job centre. In fact, you might still be able to find a job there, as they have a jobs board on the wall near the door.

They also do a great selection of reasonably priced cocktails, beers and wines, in comfy, retro-chic surroundings. From the cocktail menu, I tried both the caipirinha (£7) with strawberries and basil, and the English Garden (£5) with gin, elderflower, mint and lime. The former was better—the basil was a nice touch—but the latter was good too and similarly refreshing.

If this bar was in Shoreditch, a) it would be rammed, b) you wouldn't be able to get a table and (excuse me for sounding old, but...) you wouldn't be able to hear yourself think, and c) the drinks would be double the price. In Deptford, however, there was a nice mix of people and the place had a buzzy atmosphere without feeling too busy. It's a great addition to a neighbourhood where there is a noticeable dearth of places to sip a good cocktail.

Lewisham Model Market. 196 Lewisham High Street, London, SE13 6LS (Lewisham DLR). Website. Twitter. It's open every weekend until 26/27 September.

Job Centre. 120–122 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 4NS (Deptford train station). Website. Twitter.

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