One of the most anticipated new deli openings in London this year, this beautiful shop finally threw open its doors last month. The two-floor venue is more than ‘just’ a deli though: it’s a cross between a smart food hall and an intimate village shop, where you can buy both hard-to-find ingredients and everyday essentials. It looks classic yet modern, with cool minimalist design, exposed brick walls, and chic industrial-style metal display units. Two staircases at either end snake down to the basement; and there’s a pretty garden at the back. It’s owned by Luke Mackay and his business partner David Turcan, who comes from a business and marketing background. Mackay himself is a chef and food writer; and before opening this shop, he was a demonstration chef at Borough Market. In his 16 years in the industry, he’s worked in restaurants, wine, events management, journalism, farming and retail.
It’s an idyllic space. At the entrance to the left is a fresh fruit and veg section, with exquisite seasonal items supplied by Natoora, that Mackay says “are as good as organic, just not certified as such”. They’re planning to stock organic, too, in future. We spotted fresh morel mushrooms (£11/100g), bull’s heart tomatoes (£6.95/kg) and pea shoots growing in punnets (£1.30). “Expensive and futuristic” Pendred Fogging Units have been installed to keep the produce fresh and hydrated with a fine mist spray.
Next to it is a small selection of breads and pastries from Boulangerie Jade — “authentically French for the local French population,” says Mackay. Over to the right, there are several shelves stacked with oils, vinegars such as Womersley strawberry-mint, pickles, chutneys from the likes of Rubies in the Rubble, a variety of peppercorns from Peppermongers, bacon jam, truffle sauces, and Scrumshus cereals innovatively packaged in jars. Sweet treats include biscuits, jams, honey, fudge, chocolate from Montezuma’s and Cocoa Loco, confectionery, and syrups such as Wild Maine blueberry syrup.
Someone here clearly likes hot food, because there’s a section devoted to chilli products, including wonderful African Volcano sauces (£8), chilli-chocolate sauce, harissa, Gran Luchito smoked chilli paste, and Mr Vikki’s chilli pickles. There’s another section dedicated entirely to quaint English products like The Pilchard Works tinned pilchards (£2.75) and Mr Trotter’s pork crackling.
Over at the fish counter, there’s sparklingly fresh fish from Newlyn in Cornwall: megrim sole (£10/kg), langoustines (£20/kg), brill, lemon sole, black tiger prawns, mussels, mackerel and palourde clams. “They come with the boat numbers on them,” says Mackay. “And we destroy any leftovers.” Next to it is a swish meat counter that displays oxtail (£10/kg), chicken supreme (£13/kg), T-bone steak (£25/kg) and beef fillet (£46/kg) which Mackay points out is “the same stuff as Harrods, but less expensive”. There are also smoked back bacon, sausages, chicken breast, rib of beef, rib-eye, rack of lamb and lamb chops. These are mostly from the Rare Breed Meat Company of Colchester, but some come from the south of France. You’ll also find Mr Duck terrines and pates, Cannon & Cannon charcuterie, and Brays Cottage pork pies, said to be the best in the country. There are also eggs from Fenton Farm.
Mackay has utilised his contacts from Borough Market thoroughly, so you’ll find Turkish delight from the Turkish Deli (£2/100g); plus meze, which friendly and enthusiastic young staff encouraged us to try. Saksuka (fried aubergines in chilli-tomato sauce) and yogurtlu havuc (caramelised carrots in yoghurt) are both delicious. Meze boxes are available to takeaway; as are made-to-order sandwiches, salads, pork pies and fresh pastas. Everything is prepared using ingredients they sell in the shop, and not from catering packs.
The pasta is from Lina Stores — “selected after many taste tests,” says Mackay — and includes fresh penne (£1/100g), and assorted ravioli stuffed with pesto, spinach and ricotta, or bolognese sauce. And don’t miss Rossi pesto (£4.25) — trust us, this delicious, highly acclaimed green sauce is one of the very best you can get in London, and has won major international awards. There’s also popcorn ‘hand-popped in Portobello’ from Soda, ‘Europe’s first popcorn boutique’ — peanut caramel flavour is our favourite. Nearby is a chiller cabinet full of soups, juices and desserts; plus a freezer filled with ice creams from the Ice Cream Union and Salcombe Dairy.
Downstairs in the basement, there’s more metal shelving containing top brands of pastas like Del Duca and Maiella from Italy, tinned tomatoes from Sardinia, French fruit and veg preserved in glass jars, pasta sauces, organic baby food, beans and lentils, mayonnaise, salts and seasonings, mustards, flours and baking ingredients. There are attractively packaged spices from Spice Mountain and a selection of chillies from Chilli Pepper Pete.
At the back, there’s a marble counter that keeps cheeses cool from the bottom up. On our visit, these included Golden Cross log (£6.75 each), Stawley (£7.50 each) and Old Smales (£23/kg). English cheeses are from Neal’s Yard, Irish ones from Sheridans, and the rest from the Fine Cheese Co and the Alpine cheese specialists, Mons. The Turkish Deli has also supplied the olives here. Sitting alongside is charcuterie from Burren Smokehouse, including black pepper and fennel salami, black chorizo sticks (£3.50 each), mortadella (£25/kg) and the intriguingly named ‘Jesus salami’ (£25.50/kg).
There’s a wine section, too, with drinks costing £7.95-£35, including lesser-known varieties from small producers. Supplier Neill McKenzie from Ellis of Richmond Wines was present during our visit, and recommended organic Falanghina (from an old grape variety from Italy), a full-flavoured wine that goes well with Italian food; English sparkling wines from the Bluebell Vineyard; and Piquepoul (from another old grape, from France) to pair with seafood. If wine’s not your thing, there’s fetching Pinkster pink raspberry gin packaged in what looks like oversized perfume bottles.
In the back garden there’s a wooden deck area, pots of fresh herbs and beautiful jade-green bamboo. More will be planted to create a ‘secret garden’ effect, where you’ll be able to sit down, read the papers, have a coffee (though it won’t be a café as such) and order cheese and charcuterie platters. How many food shops can boast a garden? Very few!
Mackay and Turcan visited all their key suppliers, tasted hundreds of products and carefully chose ones based on taste and not nationality. Many are popular artisanal brands that have won the Great Taste Awards, but some are not easily available elsewhere. Plans are afoot to deliver locally, using old-fashioned delivery bikes parked at nearby South Kensington tube station. Lucky locals will also be able to hold accounts here. And if an item you want is not in stock, they’ll try to find it for you, if possible, within 24 hours.
Mackay, with his chef background, is happy to guide you with cooking tips, and even write down recipes. Additionally, printed recipe cards and menu planning services will become available. Tastings and events will also be held in future, such as chocolate truffle making, and cheese and wine matching; and producers will be invited to come in and talk about their products. So although this highly ambitious food market already offers so much, it is only just getting started.
Brompton Food Market, 33 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HQ. Tel: 020 7584 4491. Please note that the website is currently only a holding page.
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Note: businesses featured in this series are chosen editorially, and not as part of a promotion.