So, summer is finally here in London, which can mean only two things. First, wherever you look there are locals burnt to a crisp (having convinced themselves that 12 hours on Primrose Hill in a bikini would be a good thing). Secondly, and more importantly, we see the advent of outdoor events. Experiences usually firmly ensconced within the confines of four walls, hit the great outdoors for a summer of pop-up cinemas, music festivals and our particular favourite: food extravaganzas. Last weekend saw the opening of Street Feast London, which is arguably one of the best food festivals on offer. And the good news? It’s open for another eight weeks.
Street Feast London launched in May 2012 and this year moved to its new (and dare we say improved) location of Dalston Yard. Dalston Yard offers an urban, industrial home to Street Feast, with the unique venue creating an inside-outside feel to the event. The walls, covered with incredible graffiti, enclose the space whilst the roof is long gone, leaving only the metal skeleton as a reminder of its former life as a Merchant’s Yard. As a venue, it creates a certain Brooklyn vibe and adds another dimension to the event, creating a space that you want to spend time in, where you can relax and catch up with friends over long, lazy drinks, rather than simply eating and running.
This inside-outside theme is continued by a clever use of eclectic furniture, which creates separate enclaves within the space without physically partitioning areas (thereby maintaining the expansive feel of the Yard). Visitors can choose from long communal tables that give a street party vibe, or prop against reclaimed wooden planks set on old oil barrels. Two large areas offering more traditional, individual tables and chairs create outdoor restaurants whilst a relaxed lounge is established through the use of old leather armchairs under the mezzanine. Ah, the mezzanine, an early favourite according to twitter, the mezzanine offers a place to sit back, relax and watch the festival unfold below you. More accurately in our case, it enables you to be tempted by “just one more dish” as you watch the vendors create their magic, notwithstanding that you have by that point already eaten enough to sink a small battleship…
So, to the food. Is it worth the hype? Value for money? Worth a visit? In short: yes, yes and thrice yes. What is particularly good about Street Feast is the array of food on offer: much like the furniture, there is an eclectic mix meaning that there should be something for everyone. As the website says, Street Feast can cater for vegans, meat-eaters and those simply on a liquid diet … Also, whilst there is a stable core of offerings it seems that different vendors will be at Dalston Yard on different days making a return visit more of a must rather than a monotony.
The stand out thing from all the food that we tried was the sheer passion of the people behind the product. Without fail, everyone we spoke to had started their food business out of a genuine love for their craft. Particular favourites were the (vegan friendly) Dosa Deli (twitter handle @DosaDeli), the fried plantain from Mama’s Jerk Station (twitter handle @mamasjerk), the (not-so-vegan) beef tacos from Breddo’s Tacos (twitter handle @breddostacos) and the incredible lollies from Ice Kitchen (twitter handle @theicekitchen). A word on the latter, typically we’re not ones to get excited about ice lollies. However, these are incredible. If we had to play favourites the pineapple and coconut would win out but all were amazing (we tried a few…).
This eclectic, high quality, food festival with a Dalston meets Brooklyn vibe gets a big thumbs up from us. We will definitely be back for repeat visits over the summer and, if we’re being truly honest, we went for lunch on Saturday and returned for dinner….
The facts: the Street Feast website is here (twitter handle @StreetFeastLDN) and the festival runs from 5pm until midnight on Fridays and noon until midnight on Saturdays. Dalston Yard is on Hartwell Street E8 3DU.