A Nightmare on Corn Street

Here’s a little review I wrote for Epigram Food last week:

‘Overcrowded’, ‘disorganised’ and ‘disappointing’, three words which stand out across all of the comments on the St Nicks’ Night Market Facebook event, and, from first hand experience of the night, I have to agree: these complaints are completely honest and true.

On Friday night, St Nicks’ market promised to play host to ‘Bristol’s best restaurant’, but if any health and safety inspector had cared to drop by, then no doubt that that ‘restaurant’ would have been shut down in a heartbeat. 

A crowded and cramped Corn Street
 

Never mind the claustrophobically packed street (when 9k people click attending on one Facebook group, you’d expect it to be somewhat busy), by the time we arrived at 6:20pm half of the vendors where still setting up. Even though the event was scheduled to start at 6pm, most of their food wasn’t yet ready for consumption.

Grillstock’s stall in the glass arcade before the crowds swarmed in
 
It soon became clear that a lot of the vendors were unable to cope with the numbers and time pressures. In fact, we saw only a handful of stalls who’d anticipated the crush. While the rest of the vendors suffered under lengthy prep and turn over times, these stalls prepared cheap, quick and easy finger-food to pick up and take away.

Across the market most vendors where also conscientious of food allergies, however there were some who were claiming to offer up gluten-free treats when that was not actually the case. Only after a lengthy conversation would it become apparent that these sellers were confused about the difference between gluten-free and wheat free – a difference that would have left any celiac in a sticky situation… 

The cupcakes: coconut and lime, raspberry and orange, Terry’s chocolate orange
 

Last Friday my flatmates and I had planned a cute evening down in the city centre, indulging in a multitude of delicacies at what-promised-to-be a fantastic event, instead, what we were faced with was a bit of a nightmare.

While I have to say (if I ignored the price of the tiny portion), I did manage to make it away with a £6 great-tasting Brazilian fish stew, as well as three delicately flavoured cupcakes for £5. 

My Brazilian fish stew with rice and chilli flakes
 

 My flatmates, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky.

One, after having waited twenty-five minutes for some pulled pork, was handed a soggy brioche bun filled with dry shredded meat that went straight in the bin. Where she found a bin to dump that though I do not know, as not only was there a shortage of seating but there was also a serious lack of places to dispose of your leftovers.  

One of the stalls selling Indian street food
 

My other flatmate, who’d gunned for the stall looking to offer the largest portions for the least amount of money, was likewise disappointed. Her dry flavourless curry soon met the same fate as the brioche bun.

All in all the market had potential but that night it was organised by someone who, with childlike optimism, expected punters to form organised lines and not push, for biker owners to avoid the street that evening (oh yes, people pushed their bikes through the crowd) and for the vendors to be on the ball, ready to set up and start selling by 6pm, even though the day market only packs up at 5:30pm… 

Picked up from one of the stalls who anticipated the crush: a feta cheese, beetroot and mint parcel
 

What could have been a great, quirky evening was let down by a lack of planning that dampened the mood and left everyone wondering why they’d even bothered in the first place.

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