If you’ve been sticking around for long enough, you will know it: my blog’s a happy place, full of food I love and adventures I enjoy. However, as I keep exploring and experimenting, mistakes and misjudgments crop up from time to time. While it’s tempting to leave the sour notes out, it would be unfair to let you believe I’m immune to failure and dissatisfaction. This is why, before telling you about my latest lucky find, I have to start with the account of an experience I’d been long looking forward to, and found disappointingly overrated.
A Tale of Disappointment: KERB at Maida Hill Place
KERB is one of London’s best known street food hubs, famous for brightening up weekday lunchtimes and summer weekends in King’s Cross, and rocking Peckham with a pop-up evening event last July. As I haven’t managed to pay either location a visit, I was happy to hear about KERB’s new Saturday residency in Maida Hill Place, three tube stops and a five-minute walk away from my home.
Considering all the raving opinions I had heard, I wasn’t expecting to see my excitement turn into disillusion in the space of the first five minutes. Far from the abundance of a fully fledged food market, KERB groups together a meagre bunch of traders, fit into a rather tiny square; all around, the well known landscape of a suburban high street, packed with the usual array of anonymous takeaway joints and off-licences, doing as little to draw the interest of the occasional passer-by as KERB does to entice their appetite.
When it comes to street food, I appreciate variety as well as quality, and was disappointed to find such a limited choice of traders. Two adjacent stalls dedicated to burgers may make the day of meat lovers, but if your appetite’s more oriented to world foods and hearty feasts, you’ll find little to satisfy your lunchtime hunger. Passing by The Crumbery‘s stall and spotting the prettiest-looking macarons I’ve ever seen was no consolation: it takes more than eye-catching petit fours to compensate for the general lack of substance.
KERB may have brought a refreshing air of novelty to an otherwise featureless corner of the Harrow Road, differentiating it from other nearby high streets (the drab, chaotic Kilburn High Road comes to mind); however, it offers too little to the food lover in search of new flavours. As well-known hubs like Broadway Market or Partridges Market prove, there are many effective ways to make the most of limited space, and unfortunately, KERB hasn’t quite nailed the recipe for success in Maida Hill Place. That said, I’d still like to try the King’s Cross lunchtime experience, and grant KERB a second chance to persuade me about the concept. Perhaps this more established, tried-and-tested venture could wash away the bad taste from my mouth.
A Tale of Delight: Golborne Deli, Notting Hill
By the time my partner and I acknowledged the failure of our trip to KERB, another problem cropped up: a fierce, pouring rain that urged us to look for shelter. We headed towards Golborne Road, a short walk away from Maida Hill Place and Westbourne Park station, and sat at the last available table at Golborne Deli, on the opposite side of the road from the ever-crowded Lisboa Patisserie.
Our random choice, driven by the need to find comfort from the unforgiving weather, turned a so far unsatisfying Saturday into a good day. As we settled at the last available indoor table, perusing the menu in search of a suitably fulfilling lunch and trying to forget we were both soaked to the bone, the sun decided to make an appearance, and more customers started to sit outside, enjoying a privileged view on Golborne Road’s comings and goings.
Golborne Deli is the kind of place I’d have appreciated in my hometown, back in the days when weekend pleasures were as simple as sitting down with a friend, having a coffee and a slice of cake, and enjoying endless catch-ups that stretched into the early evening. The other customers, comfortably sat at their tables with big mugs and small groups of friends, seemed perfectly attuned with my impression. Catchy pop music, played at a borderline acceptable volume, created the perfect soundtrack for a merry get-together, perhaps slightly less suitable to any customers in search of a quiet spot to spend a hard-earned stint of alone time.
Casting a glance around, I noticed the tell-tale signs of Christmas preparations. Shelves were lined with boxes of authentic Italian festive desserts, sporting the logos of brands that elicited a stream of childhood memories: stubborn struggles to remove all candied fruit from my slice of panettone, smears of icing sugar and pandoro crumbs on my kid’s face, rowdy family gatherings, utterly delectable flavours. More Italian products were on display, such as the evergreen Amaretti (of the large, soft kind, infinitely more gratifying than the small and crunchy), and cans of Italian-sourced sparkling drinks you won’t find at your local supermarket.
The menu included both hearty Mediterranean choices, such as paella and lasagne, and British breakfast dishes and sandwiches, all priced within London’s lunchtime standards. I chose a warming beef soup accompanied by wholegrain bread, while my partner had a toasted sandwich with ham and melted cheese; both of us were pleased with our picks.
As we savoured our late lunch, people started to come in for coffee and tea. I saw many generous slices of cake being delivered to other tables, together with steamy, oversized hot drinks. That, and the friendly, laid-back atmosphere, convinced me that Golborne Deli deserves a second visit at breakfast time. Truth be told, I’ve already attempted to go back on a Saturday morning, but there wasn’t a vacant seat in sight. I’m not surprised, and will most definitely try again.
100 Golborne Road
Open 7.30am-6.30pm Monday to Saturday, 9.00am-5.30pm Sunday and Bank Holidays
Find Golborne Deli’s menu on Zomato.