I love London markets, they are one of my favourite parts of living here. But today I discovered that I have been doing them entirely 100% wrong. I was asked by Camden Market to do an Instagram takeover which was really flattering. I am the girl who refused to join Instagram for so long because I thought it was going to be a flash in the pan trend (yeah, slightly wrong on that count), so to be asked to do a takeover was awesome. I made the rather radical choice to take a day off work and even went to the extent of deleting work emails off my phone (I will wait for you to get over your shock and pick yourself off the floor before I continue) so I could have an uninterrupted day in Camden.

I had been to Camden market in 2008 (on the ten year anniversary of the Spice World movie coming out on VHS in New Zealand, not relevant to this post but I thought it was worth a mention) on a Saturday at lunchtime. I made a half ditch attempt to crowd dodge before getting fed up and declaring it a lost cause (not before going to CyberDog because Mary-Kate and Ashley went there in one of their classic movies). The sea of humanity was just too much. But some very credible sources (Talonted Lex and Pack your Passport) have raved about Camden over the last few years so something in the back of my mind said maybe I ought to give it a second chance.

I was going to do something I had never done before, I planned to spend the entire day at a market. The plan was to start with breakfast at Cafe Loren (amazing menu full of shakshuka), wander round the market, work from the Interchange co working space and then visit Half Hitch gin distillery (because gin and also because gin distilled with tea). It was in the middle of this day that I realised exactly what I have been doing wrong when it comes to markets.

On a Friday morning Camden Market is super chilled out, most of the stalls have opened but by morning tea time the crowds are already starting to file in, mostly on the hunt for food. Somehow though, the crowds weren’t bothering me this time.

It really puzzled me for a while, but in between my third coffee for the day and a family sized helping of churros I realised why it this market experience was different. Normally I am on a time crunch, I have a target and I go from A to B to get to it. I am so busy trying to get to that stall that sells waffles, or that coffee van where the guy gives me a free flat white and a hug (connections are important), that any mere hint of humanity in my way sends me into a rage. I want to be in and out in a hour and eat all the samples possible.

But this time I was going to be here all day. I meandered. There was no rush to get somewhere and so people being in my way didn’t impact me in the slightest. I had the time to look at the stalls, investigate the food options (while managing to drop churro sugar all over my camera) and hang back and people watch for a bit.

Turns out when you treat a London market as an experience rather than a goal you actually have more fun [insert quote about smelling roses here].

It had never occurred to me to spend an entire day at a market, but I am really glad that I did.

QGrill Coffee

Rather embarrassingly even though I have been in London for almost three years now anything above Kings Cross is a total blank. I can rationally sit back and understand that there are people who live in North London, that there are successful businesses and fun things a plenty…but on my map of London the north is still just a grey blob.

I once went above the Kings Cross dividing line, a friend had just moved to Tufnell Park and we were going to meet up for brunch. Given my 100% lack of knowledge about brunch places near there I went to Google to try and find the answer. Unfortunately Google failed me and we ended up a wholly dissatisfying brunch spot with soggy hash-browns, weak coffee and an owner that ran round making mountains out of molehills. If only I had found Q-Grill, if only.

The lovely Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi was invited by Q-Grill to try their new weekend brunch offering. She informed them that much like a guide dog, she had to bring me with her as her brunch companion. I was house trained, could jump through flaming hoops and leaving me at home could bring a brunching disaster. Faced with that sort of pressure the PR at Q-Grill couldn’t help but acquiesce to her request. Slight pause here to just say how amazing Emma is, she always thinking about other bloggers and sharing the opportunities that her hard work has brought. Emma you are a star.

Back onto Q-Grill though, oh how I wish that I had discovered it before my Google fail. The Q-Grill is a BBQ restaurant just past the hustle of Camden Markets. On my original search I had discounted it because it didn’t look like a brunch spot, and even now you have to click a fair few times on their website before finding a mention of brunch. Now that I know where it is however, I finally have a pin  in the blankness of the north.

QGrill Cocktail

What I liked about Q-Grill is that (mostly because it is a restaurant not a cafe) it feels so different. Its all leather and rust and make your own Bloody Marys. Yes you read that right, they have a bar set up so you can make your own Bloody Mary to your exacting tastes. Now I am not a fan of savory cocktails so I didn’t give it a go, but I loved the concept. Fair warning to any brunch spot doing the same with gin I will visit and then never never leave.

My only gripe with Q-Grill is that they promised a ‘Q twist’ on the brunch classics…but what I saw it was just normal brunch. Not that it wasn’t delicious, but I was looking for a BBQ twist on each of the dishes rather than just the Full English (which comes with ribs). I went with a half size Eggs Benedict, I was going straight to Afternoon Tea at the Conrad so seriously appreciated the option of a smaller size. tasty bacon, soft English muffin and perfectly cooked eggs – add a strong Flat White and you have a really good brunch.

Q-Grill is well worth a stop if you are heading for the madness of Camden, next time I visit I want to try the full BBQ.

QGrill Eggs