Review of 'Evening Standard Food Month: Night Market'

https://londonfoodmonth.co.uk/night-market/

I first was told about The Evening Standard Food Month when I, like many others, received a copy of the programme of events along with our copy the evening paper. In addition to a number of special deals at London restaurants in the guide was the signature event, the “Night Market” held in “Perks Field” (yeah, neither have I - the small field immediately to the north of Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens) over the course of several weeks in June (7th to 18th). I had been thinking of going because it is a new event and had some intriguing names in attendance so when offered a great deal off of the normal ticket price of £15 (adults; £8 children) I jumped.

Clouds in the sky

We visited on the last day of the market on Sunday, June 18th, arriving shortly after the 5:00 (pm) evening opening time (the hours of the market were Monday – Thursday 5pm – 10.30pm, Friday 5pm – 11pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm & 5pm – 11pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm & 5pm – 10.30pm). It was not really that busy and generally stayed that way throughout the time we were there.

Angela Hartnett Kitchen

The site was split in two with the one half near the entrance comprised of a number of fairly high profile food vendors including, unusually for an outdoor event, the Ivy, Fortnum & Mason, Angela Hartnett and Fortnum & Mason. The other half was mostly open grass area for picnicking or simply relaxing on but also had a large seating area under a transparent tent and an “Open Air Cinema” sponsored by Westfield shopping centre which showed films at extra cost (using wireless headphones so don't think you can catch the film by watching outside of the cinema enclosure without paying!).

Covered Seating Tent

Unlike Taste of London (which I can see as a direct competitor as it took place at the same time) all of the stalls took cash instead of tokens which made things a bit easier for paying. We decided to get stuck in and give some of the food a try so wondering around we looked for those vendors we don't normally see or have never tried before. Our first visit was to Kraw POW! LDN (not on the published vendor list) which served some interesting looking Thai food.

Kra Pow LDN

We tried the “KraPow Moo” (signature dish) half portion which was described as “Spicy minced prok and basil, stir-fry served on brown jasmine rice w/fried egg” (£5 half/£8 full) as well as “Gai Yang” - “Marinated boneless chicken thigh portions served on brown jasmine rice, with mint & cucumber salad, and our spicy and delicious Nam Jim Jaew dipping sauce” (£8). The Moo was absolutely delicious and rich particularly with the brown jasmine rice with wonderful sauces and spices. The runny drippy egg on the top added a wonderful richness to the dish. The Gai Yang was good and quite fresh with a very generous portion of flavourful vegetables.

Smokestak

Ok, Smokestak is not an unfamiliar site at these festivals but I could not resist their amazing smoked meat from their “Ole Hickory” smoker that they had on site. I eschewed the pork ribs which were merely barbecued on a grill and went for the “Beef brisket box, skin-on chips, pickles” (£12.50) which was delicious and just the right amount of smokey flavour - not too overwhelming. With the juices soaking into the chips this was absolutely wonderful.

Smokestak Beef and Fries

There were a large number of tables with comfortable seats under the tent so we used this for eating rather than sitting on the ground. A bonus was the tent bar also had a large number of cups filled with ice cold water available free of a charge set up on a table to one side. Nice to see this at a festival rather than having to pay a fortune for bottled water all the time.

The entire site had a very relaxed air with different seating everywhere - Bean bag chairs, beach chairs, etc - As well as other slightly quirky elements including ping pong and air hockey tables but even a piano set up under the tent.

Piano

We had passed by The Ivy stall to see what they had on offer. The staff were very smartly dressed up and we made sure to mention how much we really enjoy the restaurant (see my slightly short review here. Certainly their presence here was a first-class affair all the way with

The Ivy

We passed on their mains the first time we visited (“Crispy Duck and Watermellon Salad” £7.50 and “Shepherd's Pie” £10) as they had not really grabbed us but we returned later just before leaving to try their “A window to the ivy” (£8.50) dessert. A very pretty ice-cream-based affair with a slab of white chocolate on top decorated in the style of their iconic stained glass windows. It was presented so beautifully we had to take a picture…

The Ivy Dessert

Very tasty as well as delicious. It did not last very long…

As we made our way to the exit we stopped at “Angela Hartnett Kitchen” marquee as we could see they were using some unusual barbecue equipment and had a nice chat with one of the chefs about how it worked (it was a circular barbecue with a donut-shaped flat cooking surface surrounding it that was slightly sloped so the juices from cooking dripped onto the coals in the middle). He was not trying to sell us anything but just talking to us about his passion for cooking. This really typified our experience here – A nice, laid back festival with friendly vendors who are more than happy to talk to you about what they are doing.

The Night Market is not as intense as Taste of London but has a small, but good assortment of happy vendors. It does not have the same number of vendors as Taste but it is generally a much more pleasant experience. Despite the fact it was not really all that busy (perhaps not a good sign) I hope it was successful enough to return next year…

Stalls

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-06-18



Perks Field

Location: London (England)

Address: Perks Field, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, London ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Queensway TUBE Notting Hill Gate

URL:

Located immediately to the north of Kensington Palace, Perks Field is quite an unusual vendor and normally simply a field. Easy access to the site is from the paths of Kensington gardens and very close to Bayswater Road. A wonderful, open, green space hidden away in the busiest park in London…