Pop-ups are more associated with the ‘trendy’ areas of London such as Brixton or Shoreditch. These once not so well to do areas have become the center point for a new wave of trends. Until recently, I was one of those people who thought that Lewisham had little to offer by comparison, until I heard about a pop up ‘Model Market’ that was taking place and open every Friday and Saturday night from 5pm until 1am (free entry before 7pm thereafter it was £3… well worth it).
The market is described on its website as “South East London’s capital of street food, booze and vinyl-only grooves. It’s the strongest concentration of street food and vibes this side of ANYWHERE.”
Offering many different delicacies from around the world like sweet plantains from the Caribbean to the fragrant spices of Korean cuisine, the pop-up delivered on its promise.
Granted that at first glance of the outside it does not look like much but as soon as you walk into what used to be an indoor market, you’re welcomed with a lively atmosphere. Music plays in the background and rows of lights run above your head reaching from the bar to an area where you can stand and eat. People line up at various stalls ordering food, spoilt for choice or wander around the jumble of stalls.
The Model Market is open for all to experience a range of food, drinks and music. The market offers a place for families with small children, a different type of date night with your significant other or to unwind after a long week of work or studying.
I wanted to get a first hand view of what the model market was doing for the Lewisham area. I spoke to one of the vendors Da-Hae West, who turned out to be one of the founders of the Amerikorean style eatery named Busan BBQ (they do the best fried chicken wings). Da-Hea shared her opinion, she feels:
“The Model Market is bringing more people to Lewisham and showing them that there are things to do here.” She also shared her view that it is helping to lift the negative views of Lewisham and showing that it is more than what you may read or hear on the news.
The market is also providing a platform for business owners to be seen and get their food out to new places and people.
After speaking to Da-Hae I tried one of her dishes. The fried sweet-chilli chicken wings were arranged attractively. It was a visually pleasing mix of bright orange and fiery red that is given from the chillies, while the specks of green from the finely chopped spring onions contrasted vibrantly.
Its smell and taste were evenly matched and it had the right amount of crunch that you look for in fried chicken. It was bursting with flavour and while messy to eat, it goes to show just how much you are enjoying yourself with bright orange staining your shirt.
I was on a tight budget so had to choose my next dish wisely. I went for a dessert at the SE Cakery (South East Cakery). There I had the Salted Caramel Bab. A skewer of brownies topped with strawberries and marshmallows, which are then slightly toasted with a blowtorch. The rich chocolate taste, together with the salted caramel makes my mouth water just thinking back to it. I will definitely be taking a trip down to one of the many places you can find the SE Cakery’s products such as Cafe on the Rye and Rye Books which are located in Peckham and also the Red Door Gallery found in Greenwich.
This entire experience is allowing for an exploration of Lewisham and it does not stop with the Model Market. A full list of food vendors is provided on the Model Market Website so if you like what you see, you can go out and experience this wide range of vendors in new places.
The Model Market has now ended so I guess we can wait until next summer for another 25 week run or we can go out and see what else Lewisham has to offer.
One more thing if anyone wants to get a taste of the food that was on offer, you can find Da-Hea and Busan BBQ at Storeys in Shepherds Bush from 9 – 11 October.
By Zachery Hamilton