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Summer Hangouts: Mare Street Market

Charmaine Leong

If you haven’t visit Hackney’s recently opened Mare Street Market, you’re missing out.

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Opened in March this year in a former Job Centre, the market houses a whole host of shops from food and drink spots, florists, vinyl stores to lifestyle pop-ups featuring independent fashion and jewellery designers. The market opens from 8am till late on weekdays, and from 9am on weekends.

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Set up more like a boutique mall than a street-food market, Mare Street Market is designed to fit the local East London vibe. Stalls in the Open Kitchen are set up in a grid-like fashion on an open plan space. With long rectangular tables filling the centre of the room and plenty of natural light cascading in during the day, it’s no wonder that this place is the chief go-to for many aspiring writers, students and workers. Worked a long day? No worries, there’s a bar by the side of the hall just a few steps away.

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In terms of the food, the market does not disappoint. Food writer and TV chef Gizzi Erskine, who is a huge advocate of innovative pop-ups and underground food scenes, took charge of Mare Street Market’s food offering. She runs the market’s main restaurant, The Dining Room, headed up by chef Tim Mawn (from Scott’s and Sexy Fish), which serves stunning wood-fired British food such as steak tartare and indian-inspired scotch eggs.

Described to be Brunswick House’s cooler East London sister, The Dining Room is furnished with unique chandeliers, pendant lights, stone busts and other bits and bobs from local antique dealers. Find a piece of furniture you like? You can buy it.

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Meanwhile, The Open Kitchen serves delicious modern cuisine. If you’re visiting for lunch expect to find jazzed up avocado and smoked salmon toasts. For lunch, the kitchen cooks up beautiful porcini pizzas, Wiltshire burrata salads, rotisserie chicken and wood-fired cauliflower with dandelion, grape, hazelnut and Gorgonzola buttermilk with hot sauces. If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely don’t want to miss their miso caramel banana split and piña colada sundae.

Other food concepts at the market include a raw food bar, a deli showcasing local produce and a coffee roastery called Flying Horse Coffee, named after the Flying Horse Inn founded in 1593 for travellers going through Hackney. According to Gizzi, Hackney really is the perfect place for a permanent market concept like this. "We have so many great ingredients in Hackney," she says, "I don't think people realise how much food is being produced in our area. There's Hackney Honey, Newton and Pott, the best smoked salmon from the Secret Smokehouse then there's great bakeries like Yeast and people like Lilli Vanilla and The Meringue Girls. So there's all this amazing food, but the only time you could ever get the chance to shop it all was on a market on a Saturday." This is something Mare Street Market definitely changes.

A particular stand out section of the market, which is sure to get a lot of use during the summer months, is the big outdoor terrace running along the side of the building. Fancy a mojito or a glass of watermelon juice? Not a problem at all. This summer the market will collaborate with Brooklyn Beer in the terrace, bringing barbeque into the alfresco dining area.

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Responses from locals to the new Mare Street Market have been overwhelmingly positive. The market’s opening weekend was relentless, with food flying off the shelves and in need of constant restocks. Some visitors have described its Sunday lunch as the best they’ve ever had: rhubarb crumble puddings had to be eaten in silence to fully appreciate its deliciousness.

So what are your waiting for? Go check out Mare Street Market at 115 Mare Street, London E8 4RT.