Summer Tales, Red Market

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Something GLORIOUS happened tonight. I helped get my friend a date. On Tinder. What began as a casual scroll, delete, scroll, delete, LOL, like him he has cat, became something much more serious – it became REAL. She’s just come out of a long-term relationship and it’s her first official date since then. And I helped it happen. I feel proud, like nudging the co-dependent chick leaving the long-term nest. Go forth my little one, and fly.

Ashamedly, we didn’t do much else but scroll through Tinder all evening and message randomers randomly on her behalf – I can’t believe how rubbish at flirting the majority of British men are. If only they knew they had five screeching women ghost writing every line back. They’d probably run for the hills.

When we did take a brief moment to look up from my friend’s phone, I noticed that we were sitting in the rather lovely Summer Tales in Red Market, just off Old Street roundabout.

This is the first time I’ve been to Red Market – but my friend M assured me it’s positively dolled up since the last foodie event here. Fairy lights strewed the high wooden beams and snaked around tall green grass plants. It was busy, but not unpleasantly so – enough room to breathe, and drink, and stuff your face without simultaneously elbowing someone else in theirs. Very much unlike Night Tales, which was so busy it felt like we were all wearing each other as extra layers. Which wasn’t too bad, because it was bloody freezing.

Speaking of stuffing your face – the food. This isn’t so much a food market as a really nice outdoor space to have a drink, with some food stalls thrown in. There’s only about six places to choose from – including Pizza Pilgrims, Burger & Lobster and Bonnie Gull. There’s a healthy salad place – Bel-Air Feel Good Fast Food – for the trim folk. My friend E got a lamb kebab wrap later in the evening, but we were so distracted with Tinder I clear forgot to ask her about it. So let’s just say it was really good – it did look delicious to be fair, if salad is your thing.

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We started off with the salt and pepper squid from Bonnie Gull, served by a man that looked uncannily like Eddie Redmayne. It was good – served with ‘compressed watermelon’ whatever that is – translate to slightly squished and tepid watermelon, which wasn’t too pleasant. I like my fruit cold, thanks very much. The squid batter was crispy and light – the meat was fresh, soft, not a hint of rubber in sight – tentacles included. It came with freshly chopped spring onion and chilli and then we drenched it in sweet chilli sauce, for good measure. A great little starter between two – but for £8, a little steep.

My friend D ordered the fish finger sandwich for the more reasonably priced £7, but she was already drunk, thanks to finishing a round of law degree exams, and she ate it so quickly I didn’t get the chance to take a photo (okay the truth is by the time I got to her it had turned into a pulpy fishy messy in her hands and I didn’t want to take a photo – nobody needs to see that).

She said it was delicious – served in a brioche bun, with crispy batter and flakey fish flesh. It did come served with a random side of strawberries, which confused us all. Bonnie Gull, single handedly bringing back fruit and fish.

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I made a beeline for Pizza Pilgrims next – I love the show, watching the pizza lovin’ brothers pottering around Italy, getting laughed at by locals while being quintessentially British and bemused by the whole thing. I went BOLD and ordered a white pizza with Gorgonzola and artichoke – something I have been equally intrigued and terrified by for many months, now. How can pizza be pizza without tomato sauce? It came to £7, and my friend ordered the classic pepperoni for £8.

Mine was delicious – a good-sized portion for one, big enough to fit on a paper plate – almost. The Gorgonzola laced through the mozzarella and burst like salty little pearls in anomalous mouthfuls, and the artichoke gave depth and texture. The dough itself was light as air, fluffy in the middle and crisped around the edges to perfection. One complaint however – it was a little dry, thanks to the lack of tomato sauce, and much of the cheese and toppings – which were sparse – had pooled in the centre of the pizza, meaning a third of each slice tasted like just eating unbuttered bread – albeit it delicious bread.

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M’s pepperoni was by the far superior choice – again, it was light on toppings, but oil oozed from the thick meaty wedges and dripped over the crust – mixed with the tomato sauce, it made for moreish mouthfuls every time. Go there, and eat that.

Satiated but greedy, we wandered around a little more, gin and grapefruit in hand (have you tried this concoction? Delicious, have one at once) looking for something sweet to finish off our culinary adventures. Alas – there was nothing – major foodie fail, Summer Tales. We were half tempted by mac and cheese croquettes, but my savoury bent was concluded for the evening and, disappointed, we sat down and consoled ourselves by scrolling through Tinder for the rest of evening, messaging men such insightful nuggets as ‘what’s your favourite Boyz II Men song?’

I would recommend a stroll in Summer Tale’s ‘tropical street food party with jungle vibes’ – as Time Out put it – for sure. It’s the perfect mix of tasty food, great booze, and space to dance. Even a seat, if you’re lucky. They have guest spot DJs, and we were treated to a great soundtrack provided by MTA Records – lots of disco, and lots of trendy beardies getting on down – if that’s your thing. Not that any of my single friends noticed – they were all far too busy looking at Tinder.

Which could be a sad indictment of the modern world of dating, but probably just means we’ve all gotten lazy and shy. Thank God I’m not single – it’s a tropical jungle out there.

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