I turned a corner near Borough Market last Saturday afternoon and thought to myself, London doesn’t get much better than this! The sun was out, highlighting the bright red berries in the autumn trees and every passer by had a pleasantly satisfied expression on their face. Hand in hand with my darling husband, we wandered, stopping to listen to musicians or taste some morsel of street food. After battling the crowds at Borough Market (I hadn’t seen it quite that packed in ages), we emerged with plump scallops and a rib of beef for 2. The anticipation of a gourmet cozy night in made being out that much more fun.
Our day had started on a somewhat skeptical note. I had heard about a new place called the Skymarket not far from Borough Market. It sounded like an interesting collective of chefs cooking seasonal produce in constantly changing ways. When we showed up on the rooftop of an office building that felt more like being inside the bird house at the zoo, all netting and bamboo, than a restaurant. My husband looked at me very skeptically but I thought we should perservere. Once we sat the waitress told us what five items were available out of the many on the menu (another bad sign) and she then ran off to attend to someone else. We happened to visit while the restaurant was serving dishes from Indonesia, North Africa and the Caribbean – none my favorite (and that’s being generous).
We ordered four of the five items available and a fruit punch and sat back to wait. It was an odd experience sitting and waiting at picnic tables, somewhat enclosed on this rooftop. The sun was warm but the chaos of the service all around us was unnerving. However, when the food finally arrived I was incredibly pleased. These were dishes like I’ve never really encountered in London. It felt like I had happened upon someone’s home kitchen and they offered me whatever they happened to have, and what they had was delicious.
The Gado Gado vegetable salad with spicy peanut sauce was divine with a thick sauce covering crunchy peppers, snap peas, green beans, cucumbers, and cabbage. Nanek’s beef rendang curry was full of complex spices, the beef cubes falling apart and melting in my mouth. This was served with steamed jasmine rice (hardly another dish, but there you go). Finally, we had cassava chips with spicy peanut sauce – sort of a blend of a potato and plantain deep fried and topped with the same peanut sauce as the salad.
All of it was truly yummy and I went up to the chefs in the open kitchen just behind our table and told them I thought so. Initially I was willing to cut the service some slack because I thought they had just opened but when I asked the manager how long they’d been open, he told me three months! For being open that long, the service was truly terrible….
I don’t know that I’ll be back to Skymarket but I would love to spend a day in the kitchen with these talented chefs, learning how they so delicately mix their spices and utilize new ingredients. However, if you’re looking to try something completely different (and maybe my opinion would be different if I was currently into the whole tiki bar cocktail scene that they heavily promote), this is the spot for you.