Address Book: Exmouth Market
Written By: Fiona M Symington
Exmouth Market is as local as it gets in London. This unassuming hideaway in Clerkenwell has all the charm of a small neighbourhood. Surrounded by Victorian housing estates, warehouse conversions and designer studios, it has retained its independence despite its gentrification in the 80s. Once a derelict street with a seedy reputation, Exmouth Market is now a thriving community of restaurants, cafes, bars and design stores.
In the seven years that I have lived in London, Exmouth Market has remained one of my favourite places. It’s a local’s place, friendly, and in London that’s unusual. On any given weekend, I can stroll from one store to another, explore an open studio during Made in Clerkenwell week, or simply enjoy this one of the oldest areas of London.
If I’m early enough, I’ll grab breakfast at newcomer Caravan, one of the new generation of antipodean coffee roasters in London. A hybrid bar, restaurant and roastery, Caravan’s fusion menu, superb coffee (roasted on site), and all around relaxed attitude has locals and food critics talking. Expect to queue – one line for coffee; the other for breakfast. If Caravan is too crowded, I’ll head to Sweet Boulangerie– this very cosy bakery explains away any indulgence with its oh so good patisserie and classic bakes. Post-noon, Morito is the place for a very modern tapas mezze. This more flamboyant sister of Moro continues Sam and Sam Clark’s famed love affair with Spain/ North African cuisine. Medcalf is another favourite for its informal dining and uncomplicated British menu.
New to the neighbourhood is The Quality Chop House- Butchers and Shop. The latest venture of its namesake restaurant and wine bar opened in December last year. Wicker baskets, vintage plates and platters, and displays of fresh produce make this a very welcoming extension of the restaurant’s larder. The seasonal jams and jellies, chutneys and mustards, hand-raised pork pies, parfaits, smoked and glazed hams are all made on site. Seasonal vegetables are displayed with pride alongside sweet pastries and London’s best sourdough bread – Elliot’s.
Once known as “little Italy”, Clerkenwell’s Italian past is still on display in its many delis like Gazzano’s. Everyone knows everyone at this family-run store. “Ring me next time and I’ll bring it over” is what I badly translate into English. “Try the Nodini d’Amore al Tartufo” (little knots of love made with black Italian truffle). I’m tempted but leave with the best Genovese sausages in London.
Photo Source: Fiona Symington
Many architects, designers and makers call EC1 home and every year this creativity is celebrated at the very popular Clerkenwell Design Week and Craft Central’s Made in Clerkenwell. An ardent supporter of young talent is Family Tree on Exmouth Market. Owner Takako Copleand is a maker in her own right, drawing inspiration from her Japanese heritage with her washi jewelry, lamps and more recently linens using wood block inspired designs. Expect the unexpected in her store like the curious and strange tea sets of Ikuko Iwamoto.
Exmouth Market is one of the most interesting and surprising little known streets of London. Refreshing independent, loyal to community, dynamic and yet steeped in history, it is a true neighbour.
Caravan, 11-13 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD. Tel. 020 7833 8115
Family Tree, 53 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL. Tel.020 7278 1084
Gazzano’s, 167-169 Farringdon Rd, EC1R 3AL. Tel. 020 7837 1586
Morito, 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE. Tel. Phone:020 7278 7007
Moro, 34-36 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE. Tel. 020 7833 8336
Medcalf, 40 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE. Tel.020 7833 3533
Sweet Boulangerie & Patisserie, 64A Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QP Tel. 020 7713 6777
The Quality Chop House Butchers and Shop, 92-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA. Tel. 0203 490 6228