I always know that I’ve been to street feast after that distinct feeling of having an empty wallet, half empty stomach and being high on the fumes of hipster pretentiousness. Street feast, a night market which has spread across London, provides a marketplace for new vendors to sell their food and booze. I’ve been to a couple of the street feasts before but never made it to Hawker House, which is situated near Bermondsey/Canada Water in South East London.
After arriving at Hawker House we avoided entry fee (£3 entry after 7pm) and after what seemed lie 5 minutes of walking through narrow pathways and far too many security guards (along with smattering of barrel fires) we made our way in. We were then dazzled by the lights, the beats and the people who looked much cooler than us.
We started asking ourselves questions like, why didn’t we come here before? And isn’t this awesome? We then proceeded to look around the different stands. Being a taco lover, my eyes drew to the Mexicana Taco stand. I scanned through the menu and was wondering why they had quote marks around the words that sounded like meat. To my absolute horror I realized that it was vegan tacos. 🙁
We looked around and shortlisted four options: Up in my grill, a promising looking steak option, epic looking burgers at burger and beyond, ribs at Hot Box and chicken at mother clucker. We decided on the steak at up in my grill.
The initial signs were promising, a choice between the standard steak plate for £10 or the prime steak plate for £16. I asked the server what the difference really was between the two and she said, “oh uh, the steak is better”. I pressed further, so what kind of cuts are you using, “oh, uh better cuts, like uh rump?”. I shrugged and thought what the hell, they probably just don’t know what they are doing.
I then waited a long 20 minutes in front of the grill. The reward for waiting was watching some pretty sloppy food prep. The guy running the grill would use his hands to grab raw meat and throw it onto the grill, then transport it onto the chopping table. On the chopping table was chunks of discarded meat, blood and dirty plates. The grill chef would then chop the meat using one hand to hold the steak and the other to chop it. It looked like he burned himself on the steak at least four or five times while I was watching (they need to look no further than Hot Box’s set up at Hawker House to learn how to handle food properly). The cooked steak would then be transported either by hand (which resulted in more steak being left on the floor) or on the dirty plates.
Tired of waiting I prompted them for my food, I then had the joy of watching the food being prepared and transported by hand across to the table where the steak is combined with salad and chips. It then lay there for awhile as the guy who was preparing the salad was distracted. I very passively aggressively sighed loudly and finally got my food. While not entirely without merit, the food was pretty shit. There were a couple of tender pieces of steak but much of it was very chewy. On the upside the steak was cooked medium rare. The chips were cold and the salad, well it’s no more than a token gesture and not one I’m here to talk about.
With my stomach about half as empty as my wallet and with a twinge of regret at not going for one of the burgers at burger and beyond I left and upon leaving stumbled upon the most mangy fox that our heavenly father put on this planet – that prompted me to blurt out a few lines from the classic “what does the fox say”.
There isn’t a lot to recommend for up in my grill, other than my recommendation for up in my grill to up their game. Their product knowledge is poor, their food prep shocking and their core product is either disappointing or double the cost it should be. But if you strip away the chic set up, the ‘cool vibes’, then Street Feast really is just a bunch of small fries or in the case of up my grill, amateurs, selling overcharged food in an old warehouse to a bunch of aging hipsters.