Playful, exploratory and accessible – that’s how Petra Barran, founder of Kerb, wants people to experience its new permanent venture, Seven Dials Market.
The food hall threw open its doors on the weekend in the heart of London’s West End. It’s housed in Thomas Neal’s Warehouse, which was built in the 19th century, and was used to store cucumbers and bananas.
“People say there are a lot of food halls but there aren’t that many. We went to New York two years ago and there were 20 there, and there’s only five or six in London. We’re catching up with other cities and there’s room for more. It’s how people want to eat now, it’s more sociable,” CEO of Kerb Simon Mitchell told Food Spark’s sister site Big Hospitality.
Split into two areas, there’s Cucumber Alley with independent traders like Karaway, a bakery selling Lithuanian heritage breads and pastries and British charcuterie champions, Crown & Queue, which offer award winning salamis and scotch eggs. For those wanting to pick up a sweet treat, there’s Wheelcake Island, who’ll be cooking up their hot Taiwanese pancakes filled with creamy fillings in a variety of flavours including adzuki bean, chocolate, matcha and vanilla custard or Hackney Gelato’s small batch ice cream from the ex-Locanda Locatelli pastry chef duo.
Past that is a separate restaurant space called Banana Warehouse, which is divided over two floors with 13 traders pumping out food. Let’s peel back what’s inside…
Italian pasta bar Strozzapreti, from the original Franca Manca team, and MasterChef winner Tim Anderson’s Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban are the only two operators who haven’t previously traded with Kerb.
The three-course menu features a selection of simple antipasti and twists on classic Italian pudding ingredients, with fresh pasta made from durum flour and organic English spelt.
Highlights include the Strozzapreti Four Cheese Fonduta with herb infused oil, and the Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu and Marsala livers. The traditional ‘no cheese with fish’ rulebook is thrown out of the window with fresh mussels and creamy pecorino with spaghetti and yellow tomatoes.
The Japanese fusion restaurant from 2011 winner takes influences from Afro-Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisines for a melting pot of flavours.
Ramen lovers can slurp their way through a choice of three bowls, including the Dry Lamb Curry Ramen with padron peppers, tea-picked egg and an added British twist of Montgomery cheddar.
It will also serve two new weekly dishes inspired by the market’s Cucumber Alley produce, including a Market Ramen featuring rotating seasonal ingredients, and Market Hiyashi Chūka, a weekly cold ramen noodle salad.
Previous traders have bought in new concepts as well. Food Spark has already highlighted the world’s first cheese conveyor belt restaurant, Pick & Cheese.
Meanwhile, visitors can pick-up specialty coffee and sweet and savory donuts by Big Shot Coffee & Donuts, a collaboration between Insta-famous donut-maker Vicky’s and bespoke coffee service Coffee Space.
Truffle will be serving up a Seven Dials Burger with seven cuts of meat, including pigs head, tongue and bacon, as well as Yum Bun who have created the Bao-Wow as a Seven Dials Market exclusive - a Chang Mai sausage in a soft bao bun.
There's the likes of Club Mexicana with its Mexican-Californian inspired vegan street food. The menu boasts newly created dishes alongside existing favourites. There’s the Cheezeburger Taco filled with a ‘beef’ burger, red pepper queso, annatto mayo, pico de gallo and salsa negra; the Al Pastor ‘pork’ taco with shawarma style ‘pork’, charred pineapple, onion coriander salsa and pickled cauliflower; and the Mushroom & Smoked Tofu Taco with chipotle mushrooms, smoked tofu, and paprika and tahini salsa.
"I am really excited to unveil the new Cheeseburger Taco," Meriel Armitage, founder of Club Mexicana, tells Food Spark. "I launched VFC at Glastonbury this year, my take on the Colonel’s finest, it went down an absolute storm so I thought why not launch another fast food favourite. The vegan scene has exploded in London in recent years, before it was all hemp and chia seeds, but now it finally feels like there is a wave of truly exciting vegan options. Customers love innovative and exciting vegan options with big and bold flavours."
Plus, London’s favourite Jewish place Monty’s Deli will be bringing their Reuben sandwiches and New York-style egg creams, but new menu items will include open-faced bagels
Seafood restaurant Claw will be cooking up sustainable lobster rolls, while fried chicken experts El Pollote will bring their Venezuelan fare.
Chinese comfort food will come from Yin and Ink, which came from through Kerb’s incubator scheme, will offer its fritto misto platter among other food.