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A classy food market has opened in a listed church in Mayfair. You should go.
At nine syllables, Mercato Metropolitano is a name that trips off the tongue about as readily as a bolus of extra-thick peanut butter. Yet the ethical food and drink market has had three years of success trading from a former paper factory near the Elephant. The brand has now moved up in the world, opening its second site in a converted church in Mayfair.
It's not the kind of place you just stumble into. The imposing ionic portico, the bagsearch bouncers, the lack of anything to say 'we're a lovely food market... come in!', and the simple fact that it's in Mayfair all make this venue a little bit more intimidating than, say, wandering into Camden Market. But wander in you should, for Mercato Mayfair is an absolute stunner.
MM inhabits St Mark's, a Grade-I listed former church (which puts it on the same heritage footing as places like Westminster Abbey and St Paul's). Despite the restrictions that come with a listing, Mercato have made the place their own. Two floors of food and drink await your perusal — but first you must wait for the rictus of glee to diminish, as you flit around the space snapping photos.
Food and drink in Mercato Mayfair
The numerous stalls serve everything from steaks to ice cream to gin to dumplings; something for everyone. Let's take the register:
- Badiani Mayfair (ice cream)
- Raw Bar (sushi)
- Steamy & Co. (bao/dumplings)
- German Kraft Mayfair (Teutonic beer)
- Italian Steak House (self explanatory)
- Cha Cha Mayfair (seafood and cocktails)
- Handmade Pasta (have a guess)
- Lala (Turkish pide)
- Fresco Mayfair (Neapolitan pizza)
Head down to the basement (crypt?) for a well-stocked wine cellar (seller?), and a stinky cheese shop. At front-of-house is a grocers, selling fresh vegetables, packaged foods and a curious range of alcoholic drinks (we noted a £30 bottle of gin infused with the taste of Douglas fir!).
What's Mercato Mayfair like?
It's a bloody marvellous spectacle, that's for sure. Even if food markets aren't your thing, you should still pop in to have a snoop around. You'll probably end up staying, as the space is so bewitching, and the food so tempting.
It's also pricey. A fun-sized bowl of gnocchi, while lovely, set us back almost a tenner but took only five minutes to eat. We don't begrudge paying a premium to dine somewhere so memorable, but we can't afford to do this every day. Maybe the good people of Mayfair can.
Mercato Metropolitano stakes its rather verbose name on its ethical principals, with all kinds of initiatives to improve the food industry. Ingredients are sustainably and locally sourced, as far as possible. The basement serves as a bit of a community centre, with events, classes and live entertainment. We were initially confused to receive plastic cutlery with our meals — the venue had claimed to be 'plastic free'. However, we later learned that they're made from plant-based PLA, a form of bioplastic that is certified as compostable. So green credentials are very much intact.
All in all, this is a rather special addition to London's unstoppable food and drink scene. It's the kind of place you'll drop into time and again to impress your friends... though you may want to split the bill. Watch out for a third site, opening in Ilford soon.
Mercato Mayfair is in St Mark's, North Audley Street (a little ways south of Selfridges). Open seven days a week from breakfast till late.