Cheap and very cheerful

Categories: News and previews

Borough Market’s Padella has been named the country’s best place for ‘cheap eats’ in the Observer Food Monthly awards

Words: Ed Smith

“I mean, I doubt it’s going to live up to the queue is it?” muttered the lady sitting down next to me just as I was about to pay. “It is just pasta after all.”

I smiled reassuringly, thoroughly sated and content after one my better lunches of this year. “Don’t worry,” I said. “It lives up to the hype.”

She looked at me, perhaps confused by the interaction as well as the statement (it turns out she was just muttering to herself).

“Have the cacio e pepe and the chicken liver pappardelle,” I said.

And with that, I scootled out, squeezing out past the next customers entering the restaurant, past the still long queue, and back into the bustle of Borough Market.

I should probably add “who knows whether she enjoyed her lunch?” Except I’m certain she did.

Best cheap eats
Padella opened at the end of March this year, nestled beside the Borough High Street entrance to The Market. It is just a pasta restaurant. But my, what pasta. Fresh, yellow, springy, flavourful pasta, as good as anywhere in London, made on site all day everyday by the team set up by owners Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda.

The plates come quickly—tagliatelle with nduja, mascarpone and parsley; ravioli of ricotta with sage butter; stracci with pesto. They’re keenly priced and you’ll want two per person—partly so you’re full, but mostly because they taste so good. There’s been a queue since day one, and Padella has been continually lauded by critics and punters alike.

Normally, well-received busy restaurants receive a Statler and Waldorf style backlash. But, seven months in, that’s yet to occur. The praise continues to be unanimous. In fact, the plaudits keep coming: this Sunday’s Observer Food Monthly magazine crowned Padella the best place for ‘cheap eats’ in Britain. It’s a brilliant achievement, given the speed of the restaurant’s success, that it continues to meet the high expectation that good press and long queues bring.

Friends of the Market
Happily, the OFM’s awards brought recognition for a number of other friends of the Market, too.

Recent speakers at Borough’s summer series of debates and interviews have included the legendary Pierre Koffman, who was presented with a lifetime achievement award, and Doug McMaster, who runs an extraordinary restaurant in Brighton called Silo, which was named best ethical restaurant.

The social media sensation ClerkenwellBoy was named as having the best Instagram feed (of course). Borough Market is working with him during November in support of his brilliant and much needed initiative #CookforSyria, which will raise funds for the country’s displaced children, in partnership with Unicef UK. More on this to follow over the next few weeks.

And the Market was really pleased to see Jamie Oliver named food personality of the year. His apprentices at Fifteen do just a brilliant job whenever they work and demonstrate at the Market.

Congratulations to all the winners. Borough Market was also named in the shortlist of runners up for [Best Market], absolutely something to celebrate, too!

No point waiting
There’s no sign of Padella’s lunch and dinner times becoming less popular. So if you haven’t been already, you should get stuck in—there’s no point waiting any longer. The queues move relatively quickly, and if you’re able to stop by after the key times of noon-1:30pm and 6-8:30pm, you’ll often slip straight in (I managed to slip straight in last week at 13:17 and 45 seconds, but I think that was a glitch in the system). It’s just a pasta restaurant. But my, what pasta.