London has the reputation for being home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. In order to have achieved this height of culinary cuisine the capital’s eateries have looked long and hard throughout the United Kingdom to find the specific products that they want to cook in their kitchens.
Within the capital there are major suppliers that feed the major restaurants every day. This is a great example of one business feeding off another. If the restaurants are doing well, so are the suppliers who provide them with their fresh produce. London for years had three famous markets for restaurants and that was Smithfield for meat, Billingsgate for fish and Spitalfields for fruit and vegetables. It is still the same today although the New Spitalfields market is located in Leyton just outside of London, and Billingsgate is now to be found on the Isle of Dogs in Poplar.
These markets are massive and fresh produce arrives every day into them from the furthest reaches of the British Isles and even from mainland Europe. The quality of the goods over the centuries has been so high that it is understandable why such good food is produced in the capital.
The quality of the produce is certainly helped by the farming industry in the United Kingdom. Britain’s maritime climate has meant that a wide variety of products can be produced virtually all year round. There are subtle variations in Britain’s climate particularly from west to east and this has resulted in a healthy variety of products that have been produced. The current trend in London’s top restaurants is to name where the meats and fish have been sourced. For example it may be Sea Bass from Cornwall, or a lamb from South Wales, but it just adds to the grandiose nature of the menu.
The major markets are the largest of their kind in the country and every day there is a precession of goods arriving, being bought, and leaving the markets for the kitchens of the restaurants. Billingsgate is the largest inland fish market in the country. It will receive its fish from 3 main areas. Firstly, it will get some fish direct from ports, secondly it will get fish from the largest fish market in the country, which is Grimsby, and some fish arrives from Europe. The market as well as having great quantities of fish has a great number of varieties.
New Spitalfields market is the largest horticultural market, specializing in fruit and vegetables in Western Europe. The country has always produced an abundance of fruit and vegetables but more than ever is available now. Modern farming practices have created environments where certain types of produce can be grown when previously this was not possible. The recent trend in eating towards vegetarianism and even veganism, has made the market even more popular. The new location is ideal for the busy nature of the market as there is more space for the constant traffic that is moving in and out of the area.
Smithfield has been home to a meet market for over 800 years. Every day it opens its doors at 2.00am in the morning for butchers to come along and do their business. Some of the leading restaurants buy directly from the market while others will rely on the services of their local butcher. These are the major ways that the restaurants will obtain food for their kitchens but there is such a wide variety of food outlets in the capital that some eateries may have contracts with local farmers and some of the French restaurants prefer their food to be supplied directly from France.