Up Market

The Grainger Market in Newcastle is fast gaining a reputation for fantastic street food. Dean Bailey checks it out

FishIt’s Monday morning and I’ve been sent back through the doors of appetite HQ with a challenge – to eat my way around the Grainger Market. It’s a tough job, but…

The market’s come a long way from the place I remember as a kid, wandering the alleyways on a Saturday morning on our ritual family trip for a Sunday joint and, if I was good, a bag of bullets for the bus home.

Our family’s choice of butcher, Oliver & Eden, is still going strong, with third-generation Jerry Eden now in charge. Similarly, the fishmongers and fruit and veg sellers continue to thrive, as does the Kandy Box sweet shop, no doubt assisted by my continuing weekly pilgrimage in search of bullets.

In the last few years, new independent foodie stops have joined the market mix – making a weekly trip an absolute must for anyone whose Twitter profile reads ‘foodie’.

The traditional cafés remain – the fantastic Oliver’s is a must, and relative newcomer Wi-Fri is a great stop for breakfast.

For coffee, Pumphrey’s is among the best in Toon, while Fez Food’s owner Ferit Ozdemir recommends a Turkish, as he dons his black and white fez and dips under the counter. After a process that is far more intricate than I’ve seen from a teenager in a green apron, he produces a tiny cup of thick, chocolatey coffee accompanied by a cube of Turkish Delight and, for this fortunate writer, a large slice of baklava. My day is made.

A stand-out of an assignment which turns into lunch at the market every day for a week, turns out to be watching Lindsay’s To Go’s Paulo Gama cooking up noodles, chorizo, and king prawns fresh from Lindsay’s fishmongers across the alley.

It’s a substantial treat, but the carton is empty by the time I roll back down Grey Street.

What makes the Grainger Market special is the people. You’ll struggle to find friendlier folk, from Julien Poulalion of La Petite Crêperie and Marco and Augustio of Pizza by the Slice, to Jerry Eden at Oliver & Eden and Paul Fletcher at Lindsay’s. Everyone has time for a chat, a story, and the odd recipe suggestion.

Jerry suggests stir-fry made with his beef and veg from the J. Armstrong veg stall. Paul recommends pan-frying whiting, fillets he’s brought fresh from the Fish Quay at North Shields this morning, in butter. It’s a meal for two that’ll leave you with change from a fiver.

Back to in-market dining and crêpes are the order of the day on Tuesday. The only problem is, everybody in Newcastle appears to have had the same idea and the queue is enormous. Fortunately, the salted caramel ones are well worth the wait.

Back the next day, Julien recommends a savoury crêpe made with buckwheat flour, which makes it gluten-free for the sensitive and coeliac among you. The French classic Emmental, ham and egg variety is the daddy of them all.

Savoury crêpes will likely put you in the mood for something sweet and Pet Lamb Patisserie just round the corner is a cake-lovers’ dream. We can recommend the salted caramel brownies, carrot cupcakes, peanut butter brownies, vanilla cupcakes – you get the idea.

On a flying visit, we stop by and say cìao to Marco and Augustino at Pizza by the Slice to find a huge peperroni has just come out of the oven. One massive slice, it turns out, is ample for lunch on the run.

Meanwhile, the French Oven’s highlight of the week turns out be a chicken, chorizo and mozzarella panini recommended by manager Clement Fouquet. It’s a definite improvement on that squashed ham sandwich in your bag! The mince and mushy pea pies are also fantastic, but get in early – they’re really popular.

It’s a world away from any shop-bought sarnie, as are the giant rolls at Sloppy Joe’s, which are baked that morning and stuffed with mincemeat, onions and peppers with a variety of toppings, just like they serve in New York.

One week is hardly enough to get everything in, particularly when you factor in a visit to the excellent new Nan Bei Chinese dumpling bar, and an entire lunch hour spent browsing the huge range of food and drink at mmm… deli. But there’s always next week. Meanwhile, there’s that bag of bullets for the bus home.

Grainger Market
Newcastle, NE1 5JQ

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