I suppose I have to get past the fact that Borough Market is half underneath an overpass. I am not positively in love with the idea of cars driving over my produce, but I suppose that is all part of the Southwark charm. Traders used to set up shop on London Bridge itself, where they sold grain, fish, vegetables, and livestock. Two hundred years later, they moved to Borough High Street, and Londoners have been trekking south of the bridge for veg and bread ever since. As with any market, I like to visit early in the morning when the producers are still setting up. I stood by while a bread baker fastidiously stacked the olive and sun-dried tomato loaves in the photo above. I thought he was getting ready to play Jenga, and then I wondered which came first; the criss-crossed loaves or the Hasbro game.
For coffee, look no farther than Monmouth, which quite often has a line trickling from its open front starting at about 7:30. A young lady walks through the queue taking orders and reporting them back to the drip station. The morning croissants, baguettes, and assorted pastries are rustically presented on a wooden table, and patrons pay for one and then help themselves. I assume there is a great amount of trust built into this system. The space is anchored by a large, wooden communal table, where jars of jam are open and dripping, along with slabs of butter. I take my coffee and watch others break bread over breakfast chatter.
The atmosphere is a little different on Walton Street in South Kensington, where I found countless home decor stores worth popping into, as well as the new ‘posh’ restaurant Toto’s. I love the way the restaurant afronts a stone courtyard as opposed to Walton Street. It feels tucked away. The main dining room is beautifully lit, but I sat myself at the cozy bar for an early supper of spaghetti with lobster and pomodori. I have a strange feeling, as if I walked into someone’s private club, but it was lovely nevertheless. I also love Jak’s on Walton Street for a more casual, grab and go dinner in the company of thirty-something South Ken’s.
From South Ken, my legs took me to Chelsea, where I skipped the art galleries in favor of the side streets and alleyways filled with the neighborhood’s multi-hued homes. I wonder if one color is more in demand than others.
I can’t leave London without a healthy dosage of Ottolenghi, and dinner at Nopi did not disappoint. The sides were every bit as flavorful as they are at the darling cafe in Notting Hill, and I was pleased to conclude that the mains held their ground as well. I must say that if the waiter gave me nothing but their bread, endless slices of one of the most heavenly breads ever, I would have left the dinner with just as much satisfaction and joy.