Before my bus sped off, two things struck me about the place. The first was the largeness of the shop, which was obvious, even from the top of a bus. The second was the crowd. Greengrocers are ten a penny round my way. So when you see one packed with evening commuters even when there is a Tesco Metro not far away, you realise they must be doing something right. I made a mental note to investigate. It was to be several weeks before I found a Sunday morning that was sunny enough to warrant the walk down there, but it was well worth the wait.
The mushrooms told me the place was special. Greengrocers, mushrooms - what so special about that? Simply this; I doubt there is another greengrocer in London selling loose oyster mushrooms from a box in front of the shop. And not even Harrods has the range of mushrooms this shop sells.
You want onions? You can have English onions, Spanish onions, Spring onions, Red onions, White onions and PROPER shallots. Some garlic to go with those onions? Would that be bulb garlic, elephant garlic or smoked garlic?
Wherever you looked in this shop, there wasn't just one - but several versions of everything. Prior to last Sunday I'd only ever seen Chantennay carrots in seed catalogues. Now, here they were in front of me. They sat alongside at least four types of chilli and probably the biggest range of fresh herbs on sale anywhere in London.
This place is heaven for vegetarians and misers. The greatest con trick played on today's shoppers is that supermarkets are cheaper than local shops. Anyone who still believes that myth is advised to do some research on their favourite supermarket's website before visiting this place. After a few minutes browsing round this place you will soon realise your supermarket has been charging you well over the odds for the flavourless plastic packed lumps of so called produce they have been foisting upon you.
There is a double premium to shopping locally in amazing shops like this. Not only are they clearly MUCH cheaper than supermarkets, but you only buy what you want WHEN you need it. On the same day as visiting this place, I was passed a leaflet from a supermarket showing how to make a week's worth of meals for 4 for 'only' £20. I reckon I could produce a vegetarian equivalent of those meals for far less by purchasing the ingredients from this place.
In the short time I spent in this shop, I did get a touch of vegetarian overload. So in the end, I settled for a couple of apples (30 pence) and vowed to return later with a shopping list. They were Braeburns, and organic I think. Even if they weren't, when I bit into them my mouth exploded with flavour- simply the tastiest apples I've had in years.
The greengrocers around Green Lanes deserve a food guidebook all of their own. There are a lot more 'trendier' places to buy food in London, but I doubt if they'd hold a candle to this place for quality range or price. I shall be back there with a long shopping list fairly soon, for it is my contention that Newington Green Fruit and Vegetables is one of the best greengrocers in all of London.