Before I start I want to apologise for the quality of photos in this post. I recently bought a telephoto lens and decided to test it out on the night in question. Mega-zoom lenses probably not great for a small space.
The problem I have with Street Feast’s new Giant Robot market is pretty much everything that is wrong with London right here and now. There’s a lot of good shit but there’s also some shit shit dressed up, trying to pass itself off as something it’s not.
The spirit of Street Feast comes from the original markets like Neil Market and the original Street Feast tradition and we’ve seen it grow into places like Hawker House. That was the cusp of the scene right there. And now Giant Robot has taken that model and gone full corporate in Canary Wharf. I know it can’t be as rough and ready as the other versions due to the area Giant Robot is in, and I know it’s in a new build – but then don’t do that to your followers who love your brand. They didn’t ned to create this place in this brand-spanking new space.
It’s here that Street Feast is looking to drain the City Boys’ wallets with a massive cocktail and wine bar while putting what everyone loves about them (the food) on the back burner. What makes London’s street food markets so special is the ramshackleness of it all. They have just stripped the soul out of everything they had built thus far. London in general is in a really bad place by doing this – by completely taking the fun out of it all and making it corporate. Taking a concept that it organic and forcing it into something it’s not – which is a general problem of London lately.
The problem with Big Robot is that to market it to City Boys they’ve had to install a wine and cocktail bar as the main feature of the room. The thing is, it looks like the bar of a bad Gold Coast casino. They have then added a lobster stall, you’ll find Jose Pizzaro (probably) doing smaller street food serves of his already small plates tapas concept catering for the b(w)ankers who don’t trust street food places anyway. Then you’ll find Yum Bun doing bao’s because that’s what’s on trend right now. Finally you will find a generic place filling the gap doing both fried chicken and burgers. So we have a burger/fried chicken joint and 3 other places I would never bother eating at if they found themselves in any other Street Feast…
I don’t understand why they’ve put so few food traders in Giant Robot. They could fit another two but the spaces are taken up by a DJ booth and a massive cloakroom (gotta hang your 3 piece suit somewhere I guess). If you want to get a little bit drunk and full up, here you’ll be looking at easily dropping £30-40 a head. Especially with a few £8 cans of beer looking to rape and pillage your wallet.
In my mind now, I’d rather go to a nice restaurant, be served and relax if I’m going to spend that kind of money. In places like this I look to spend £20 a head if I’m needing to fight for elbow space with people who probably have never heard of Street Feast until it ended up on their doorstep.
There is absolutely no point in travelling out to Giant Robot in Canary Wharf if you don’t work here or are more then one stop away on the DLR or tube if you have the option of Dinerama in Shoreditch, Model Market (just reopening) or Hawker House. It’s unfortunate that this place makes those rubbish street food markets in the carparks in Shoreditch opposite Boxpark look good. And I don’t think the brainstrust behind Street Feast ever thought that would be said.
Don’t believe me? I dared one of our followers to go along after she was about to heed our warning: