There are few places more interesting for a foodie than Borough Market. It is one of the largest and oldest food markets in the world – celebrating its 1,000th birthday in 2014. The present market buildings date back to the time of Charles Dickens. Today – rather than touring the stalls and grabbing whatever takes our fancy, we are going to the Arabica Bar. The Arabica Bar & Kitchen serves Levantine cuisine in a cornucopia of dishes that can suit almost any palate – we arrive with great expectations.
As usual, my initial focus is on beer. I am delighted to find The Pale Ale from Anspach & Hobday – their microbrewery is sited in Bermondsey, near where Bill Sykes met a nasty end. We are being served by Yasmin who helps us to decide what and how much to order. We begin with kibbeh – one spiced lamb and one spinach. These are Levantine style bulgar wheat croquettes stuffed with onion, pine nuts & sumac. They are truly fabulous.
We have a fattoush salad – mixed winter leaves with radish, parsley, mint, za’atar, croutons and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Although it is far nicer than anything you might find on Miss Havisham’s wedding breakfast table, for a salad, it is very highly spiced and the numerous fried croutons make it seem quite fatty. The chicken & pistachio shish is spiced with cardamom and green chilli and sweetened slightly with honey.
However, the best dish of the day is the sayadieh….Lebanese-style roasted cod with black rice and tahini sauce. We both want to say “more please” – just like Oliver. I still find room for an Arabica affogato – Turkish coffee with cardamom and halva ice cream.
Despite the buzzy, bustling atmosphere, the service at Arabica is still excellent. Yasmin has looked after us very well indeed. This is somewhere we would recommend to our mutual friends and London food bloggers Tamarind & Thyme and Cake + Whisky – the food has been really interesting, with some great dishes and first class beer. Prices are very reasonable – though I’m not sure they are low enough to satisfy Scrooge.