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Broadway is less a market than a meeting place for winsome young men sporting Lord Kitchener moustaches and fey-looking girls armed with the Saturday style supplements and the odd chocolate éclair. It’s notorious for its East End fashion kudos, but it’s the high-quality produce (Broadway is primarily a specialist food market), well-edited vintage clothing and independent boutiques that make it worth perusing on a regular basis.
It wasn’t always like this: after years of decline, in 2004 volunteers from the local traders’ and residents’ association set about transforming their ailing fruit and veg market. Now, Broadway is one of London’s most successful (and most gentrified) local markets with 80 stalls heaving with cheeses, meat and fish, cakes and preserves and a fruit and veg stall that’s traded on the market for the past 50 years.
Much smaller and less frenetic than Brick Lane, Broadway Market is also pleasingly eco-edged, with a ban on plastic bags and a stall selling souvenir cotton totes – perfect for the local trendies. Go to show off (and do your weekly shop at the same time).
The majority of Broadway’s cake stalls are excellent, from Violet’s cupcakes (www.violetcakes.com) to the Ion Patisserie, Georgeta Decuseara’s small stall near Dericote Street. Each pastry and cake is fastidiously made and her obscenely huge éclairs packed with vanilla cream are worth queuing ages for.
The impromptu tat stalls at the edge of London Fields selling scratched CDs; fashion students lolling about outside the Cat & Mutton still drunk from Friday night; the public toilets; trying too hard on the fashion front: it may be the closest thing London’s markets have to a catwalk, but you’ve still got to make it home through Hackney afterwards.
Try Australian-run café Climpson & Sons (No 10), the epicentre of the market (and a tangle of buggies and vintage bikes from noon onwards); the Dove (No 24) with its Belgian beers and portions of chips served in pint glasses.
Our insider: Fashion designer Geoffrey J Finch, whose label Antipodium (www.antipodium.com) is created in a studio just a few minutes away from Broadway Market.
When should you visit Broadway Market?
‘On Saturdays at around 9am – it’s quite civilised – but some stalls open earlier. It winds down about 5pm-ish but stocks may be depleted.’
‘I love Artwords at 22 Broadway Market – all the latest and rarest fashion and art rags and an inspiring selection of books: great for gifts and appearing in the know. The vintage men’s and ladies’ clothing stalls outside Artwords and The Dove are a must-visit. Look out for the grumpy stall owners and rakish customers.
‘The flower stall, outside the Off Broadway bar and café, is great value; I find a large, showy bunch of blooms makes a great accessory. L’eau à la Bouche at No 49 makes totally delicious salads, with cheeses, meats and poncey pink drinks from France. There’s a great vintage furniture store, The Dog and Wardrobe, owned by an interior design couple, on St Andrew’s Road, overlooking the canal. Finally, I love the reassuringly expensive gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cake stall that is conveniently outside Holistic Health at No 64. The perfect place for a smug, post-yoga treat.’
What should you avoid?
‘Beware of the buggies! The creative professionals have started breeding.’
‘Wilton’s (63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG) is a great local café and not usually as packed as Broadway Market’s Climpson & Sons, and you can walk off a coffee buzz by sauntering across London Fields to Arch 389 (Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PN), where you’ll find a selection of retro furniture and bric-a-brac.’
Broadway Market, E8 4QL (www.broadwaymarket.co.uk). London Fields rail. 9am-5pm Sat.