Sunday, 19 August 2012

Leather Lane Market - EC1

I have written before about two fine coffee establishments on Leather Lane in EC1 - Department of Coffee & Social Affairs and the mighty Prufrock - both well worth a visit and both making Leather Lane one of London's coffee destinations.  OK let's pause for one second - (i) wow - amazing to think we now have multiple coffee destinations in this town and (ii) do I sound like a complete wanker by using the term "coffee destinations"?  Anyway, moving on.  Visiting Leather Lane recently I realised it deserves a blog post all of it's own.  Not only because of the aforementioned caffeine possibilities, but also because it has some kick-arse food vans and street food and it manages to have all this whilst

 retaining it's character as a slightly down at heel, traditional London street market.  You still have the stall selling batteries and cheap cleaning products, you still get racks of sketchy looking clothes and the shops along the Lane are (thank God) only mildly "trendified" - and that is exactly as it should be.  How much better it is to find your gem of a cafe or street-food vendor in the middle of a normal street rather than be spoon-fed your culinary experience as part of some horrible artificial "artisan's enclave" (shudder).  So - on to the food options, in the past I had already tried the Lamb & Halloumi wrap stall at the top of Leather Lane which is amazing, so on my recent visit I reluctantly walked past it to try some of the others stalls.  I had been aware of Daddy Donkey for some time (how could you not with that name) and their Leather Lane van has been there for some years but I had yet to try them.  Their tagline is "kick-arse Mexican grill" and my burrito lived up to that description.  I went for the "Daddy D Burrito" with Picadillo (slow cooked beef in garlic, onion, spices, tomato and chipotle salsa - oh yeah) and it was a big helping of tasty, spicy deliciousness.  As I was with the other half we were able to get two lunchtime dishes and share them and we went from Central

 America to SE Asia and had a steamed pork bun from Kin.  Kin's stall sits in front of their restaurant - which I haven't been to but looks good and has that typical "pan Asian" menu that most westerners demand and which I always think is unfortunate as  it means the chefs can't concentrate on being really good at one particular Asian country's dishes. However I'm sure that Kin does all their dishes well and there were several things on there that I definitely want to go back and try.  The stall was manned (womaned?) by two friendly lassies who served us a pillowy steamed bun chock full of pork, herbs and chilli sauce.  This is one of my favourite dishes and whilst nowhere can match the brilliance of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York, this pork bun was pretty damn tasty and we wolfed down alternate bits of burrito and pork bun with great pleasure (don't judge and don't knock it 'til you've tried it).  Leather Lane market has been around for about 400 years and does not actually derive it's name from some past life as as the centre of London's leather trade (ooh-ah) but according to this fascinating site the name derives from one of the original traders, La Vrunelane.  This site also claims the market's origins came from the settling of a gambling debt of King Charles II in the 17th century, which whether or not it is true is a great story.  So whilst you are wandering the Lane munching on your burrito, lamp wrap or pork bun or whilst you are looking cool sipping your flat white or piccolo in Department of Coffee & Social Affairs or Prufrock, know that you are one of a long line of Londoners who have spent time on this slightly shabby but rather charming street in Holborn.


  1. Have you tried the Fast & Fresh Burger Grill? It's a burger van run by the Daddy Donkey crew - top stuff.

  2. Leather Lane is a delight!
    Daddy Donkey is a regular indulgence of mine - I like to take their burritos to Grey's Inn Gardens of a sunny afternoon, and try not to spill food down my front while I sit among the great and the good (nerd fact: the gardens were laid out by Sir Francis Bacon).
    You should try Craft beer Co, also on the Lane - it's a lovely craft beer pub, and they have other booze made by small distilleries and cellars too.

  3. Thanks Rebecca - for the info on Francis Bacon and the tip on Craft Beer Co, sounds like the perfect beverage to accompany a burrito!

  4. Good to see Leather Lane getting to recognition that it deserves.

    You may be interested in our blog which is focussed on trying to find the best falafel wrap on leather lane -

  5. What happened to the grime and the greasy spoons?

    What happened to the Italian sandwich "destinations"...?

    It's all gone to pot....

    London is now dead.