Don’t you just love it when someone buys you a present and they then doubt themselves and then overcompensate with additional gifts? Well, sometimes I love it. Often it means receiving some body cream I will never use or a spotty notebook I will too embarrassed to be seen out with. However, it can work out. For Christmas my sister bought me a couple of great gifts, the mother of these being Thor on DVD (this is not a joke (I really like this film (I LOVE Thor))) and after much worrying she decided to treat me to lunch at Market in Camden to make up for it. I don’t mean a dodgy Chinese where the meat is more likely cat or human than pork from Camden Market, but a small restaurant on Parkway serving modern British fare with seasonal produce. At £10 for two courses during lunch times on a weekday, this was some rather inspired work from my sister (also known as Liza) – a restaurant I most definitely wanted to visit for the price of some utterly forgettable consolation present.
On a crisp day in January Liza and I joined forces on our matching day off and from different parts of London we headed into Camden, colliding outside the tube station. This is not entirely accurate as I was early and Liza was late and I had to wait, biding my time by painting my nails with all the tester bottles of nail varnish in American Apparel. The girl in the shop did not find me annoying at all, just like I wasn’t finding Liza’s inconsiderate tardiness increasingly frustrating. Because we are sisters I was very understanding when she finally decided to turn up 10 minutes later than originally arranged.
When we walked into Market a member of staff did that disconcerting thing of looking worried while scanning the room as a result of saying we had not booked a table. Now answer me this, why does this sort of response only happen when the restaurant is at most a quarter full and at a time where it won’t get much busier? This is not a criticism on the place because it seems to happen everywhere so there must be a reason. Right? So anyway, once she had found an empty table (if it were a competition, I would have won) we sat down and were promptly given the menus. My eyes went straight to the £10 deal at the top but it took a little longer for Liza to understand. I think because she didn’t want to give up on the idea of having absolutely everything on the main menu. Soz Lize, it is your own restrictions holding you back.
As there were two options per course I decided to order the opposite of whatever Liza ordered which meant that although I had to go for the cauliflower fritters, I did get to order the linguine with chorizo as Liza inexplicably went for the grilled chicken breast. As soon as they took our menus away she knew it was a mistake and I believe she was in a state of confusion for the rest of the meal. Imagine what she’d be like if she didn’t have someone like me to look up to? Eating cauliflower fritters as well as chicken breast I’d imagine.
We waited quite a while for starters. I didn’t mind so much as Market really is a nice restaurant to sit in. Cool, bright and casual and our table was placed in great viewing distance of the kitchen pass. This did mean that I received a constant reprimanding from Liza as I seemed to be concentrating on my food arriving more than our conversation. But it is so tantalising when you are so hungry and you see your cauliflower fritters that you were never that excited about waiting at the pass for ten minutes while your sister’s starter is sent to the wrong table. It all ironed itself out in the end and my fritters which were just a bit cold were finally put in front of me.
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed them. Despite their temperature they were crispy and light and the creamy mayo went very well with it. The mayo was especially delicious, being all genuine and olive oily. I was gross and ate the remainder out of the pot using my finger once I had run out of dipping appendages. Another surprise was how much the sprinkling of paprika really livened up the dish. Cauliflower seems to have such a bad rep as being the most boring vegetable in the world, but come to think of it, I really like it. I think I had been swayed by the opinions of others when I should have stayed true to myself. I love it when a meal leads to a moral lesson.
Liza’s starter was mushrooms on toast. Even with my new found love for the flower we call cauli, I cannot deny that Liza won the starter round. The mushrooms were rich, earthy and almost boozy in taste and the toast was crispy and possibly fried in the same pan as the mushrooms. It was so simple yet so ridiculously good – I like it when that happens. But I mostly like it when it is my starter and not someone else’s.
Despite the long wait for our first course, the main dish followed shortly after the starters were cleared away. This was good because I was still very hungry, my cauliflower fritters having opened my hunger gates even further rather than closing them. Luckily my relationship with pasta is that it takes very little to fill me up. Once Liza and I went to Florence together and we found a restaurant that sold spaghetti and nothing but spaghetti and that was wonderful. Not wonderful were the sporadic opening times that made no sense but we managed to eat there three times in 4 days. I tell you this because I think it important that you have an idea of how important pasta is to us.
This linguine with tomato and chorizo went down very well. As predicted, I filled up pretty quickly but it was so moreish I managed to finish the lot. The sauce was creamier than expected with a strong tomato flavour and a nice spicy kick from the chorizo. It wasn’t groundbreaking but it is the kind of pasta dish I wish I made at home rather than the usual dollop of pesto from a jar. I wish I had the foresight to keep some of the sourdough given to us at the beginning of the meal to wipe up the rest of the sauce.
I believe Liza was jealous, but as I have already explained, she only had herself to blame. Her chicken was nice though and it came with some wonderful crispy fried potatoes. When trying each others meals I think I was a little greedy with her spuds which I do feel bad about but it was a meal gifted to me so I don’t feel that bad. There was a bale of rocket on top of the chicken which was tasty but aesthetically it made my inevitably terrible photo look even worse. So that is my excuse.
I think you can deduce that for £10 this was a pretty successful meal. It really is astonishingly good value, especially in a place which is surprisingly devoid of good eateries. We decided not spend extra on pudding in favour of doing a bit of shopping and finally ending our day at Yumchaa for a nice cup of Earl Grey for me and a less nice cup of mulled tea for Liza which just tasted of mulled water. The banana and nutella bread was an excellent addition.
So I think it is only right that after Liza’s initial doubts that Thor on DVD would not be adequate present enough I should provide her with some words of thanks and support: Thank you Liza, for a delicious meal and your time and don’t stop doubting yourself for then you will never let me down.Market Restaurant 43 Parkway London, NW1 7PN http://www.marketrestaurant.co.uk/