40 Maltby (Bermondsey, London, UK)

Our last few days in London were primarily dedicated to knocking a few more items off of our to-do list. One of those has been on the list for a rather long time. Waaay back in 2009, I bought some tickets for the (long defunct) Menu For Hope blog fundraiser, and ended up winning a gourmet tour of London from a blog called Londelicious that I was going to do later in the year. Well, several things happened… First, Krista ended up moving from London back to Chicago, and several attempts for her to have someone else do the tour in her place fell through. Then, at one point I thought I might cross paths with her after she moved back to Chicago (and renamed her blog Passport Delicious)… at which point she then moved back to the UK. We basically just gave up on the idea, until last year, both her and I were both actually in London at the same time, so we managed to actually finally meet up. Since I rather like beer, she offered up a tour along the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

One of the more interesting things about London’s rail network is that several segments of it were done as elevated viaducts. Due to the stone construction, that means arches. A lot of arches. Originally, they were considered undesirable rental spaces, but they are in surprisingly high demand now, and in some areas, trendy. Like in Bermonsdey, where the Viaduct coming from London Bridge Station makes for several continuous miles of arches. Part of this is now the “Bermondsey Beer Mile”, since there are more than a few breweries located in the arches, including Kernel, Brew by Numbers, Southwark Brewing Company, and Anspach and Hobday. But another part of it is the Maltby Street Market; during the week it’s basically lumber storage, but on the weekends it becomes a hopping food market. Anchoring all of this is one actual permanent restaurant: 40 Maltby, where we stopped for snacks (and at that, it’s actually more “Wine warehouse” than restaurant, with most of the arch holding wine).

I’ve talked a few times about what draws my eye as I walk into a place (or often, actually draws me in off the street), and here at 40 Maltby, it was a simple thing: Right on the end of their bar was one of their daily specials: a large, nicely crusted, perfectly roasted Yorkshire ham. Even if this hadn’t been a specific destination for us, the ham looked good enough that I would’ve at least checked the menu to see if a small portion could be obtained to-go.

But we were here for a break from walking and beer drinking, so after settling down with a nice bottle of wine, we ordered up a handful of items from the menu. First to arrive was… the ham. Yup, fresh slices off that delicious looking ham. And I’ll have to say, this was a delicious ham through-and-through: a tender and still slightly moist pink interior, rich in smoke and pork notes and not excessively salty… shifting over to the delicious spicy crust. When I crave ham, this is the exact thing I’m craving, not the generic pink stuff in the cold cut case.

Next up: a nice plate of fried green tomatoes. I’m used to these primarily being a food item in the US south, but these were no disappointment: nice, juicy slices of fresh green tomato with a light and airy batter, making for a rather nice complement to the red wine we were enjoying.

Then, a surprisingly pleasing plate of onion squash (over here in the States I usually see these called kuri squashes), nicely roasted up as chunks with some roasted chestnuts and served with a nice dusty of grated cheese.

And finally, the masterpiece: confit pork belly with quince and fennel. This was several perfectly confited slices of pork belly served up with a nice glaze with some roasted fennel and quince, and this was exactly what I crave with a good pork belly: nice tender layers of fat and pork, a bit of salt, a nice crusty, and a little bit of glaze tying it all together.

Overall, I rather enjoyed 40 Maltby. Good wine, some great meats, and a nice selection of other nice light plates. I’ll certainly want to come back and check out more of their items, and some of the other vendors around the Market.

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