If you’re looking for soya milk frappucinos or organic rye loaf, Queen’s Crescent Market is not your place. But for affordable, good quality fruit and veg, cheap-as-chips household goods and toiletries, haberdashery, Jamaican street food and a good dollop of earthy banter and humour, this traditional market can’t be beaten. On a typical Saturday, you’ll find the market gently humming, rather than bustling. Platinum blonde Donna on the flower stall (which boasts reasonably priced bouquets and a great choice of potted plants and shrubs) will be exchanging curses with Neil, the assistant from nearby Frank’s supermarket; the Jamaican food stall, which serves up piping hot curries, is pumping out reggae; whilst Jack who runs the veg stall will be beaming benignly at it all.
A popular kids stall sells stationery and children’s books at knockdown prices. Look out for the Bangladeshi-run haberdashers that glitters with sparkly bows, scarves, ribbons and fabrics but you can also find plastic bowls brimming over with kohlrabi, gourds, papaya, Thai aubergines, chillis and other Asian vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as kitchenware, bedding, shoes, clothes, luggage and bags. Several times a year it is also taken over by a visiting French market that sells fabulous cheeses, soaps and sausages. When hunger strikes, follow Grafton Road round to the eternally mellow Map Café, which serves up hearty soups, stews, cakes and all day breakfasts. Listen for the jazz musicians practicing upstairs – if you’re lucky you’ll even catch a concert.