Is Junkyard Market in Norwich worth visiting this Christmas?
- Credit: James Randle
After thousands of people flocked to street food event Junkyard Market in Norwich this summer, it is back by popular demand with a festive makeover for Christmas.
With mixed household groups only allowed to meet outside under Tier 2 restrictions, which cover the whole of Norfolk, outdoor food and drink venues have proved hugely popular since the second lockdown lifted.
Junkyard Market takes place in the car park outside St Mary's Works and ran every Friday to Sunday until December 20 and it is now running daily until December 31, excluding Christmas Day.
I headed along last Friday with my boyfriend and his brother and fiancée for a pre-Christmas catch-up, seeing as we won't be able to go round each other's houses this year.
Customers enter from Duke Street and before their slot they queue up outside, which is monitored by stewards, with floor markers to make sure social distancing is followed.
After contactless check-in, groups are then directed to their tables by a member of staff, who all wear masks, and the open-sided marquees are filled row by row.
The festive decorations looked amazing, without being tacky, and still kept the industrial feel that the summer event had with a Christmas tree and snowman made out of tyres, a bauble photo wall and a car pulling fake reindeer.
It is all table service and ordering is done by scanning a QR code, which then pops up with a window stating that customers must order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks. This is monitored by staff too.
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The stalls vary slightly each time, but when I went there was eight savoury options - The Mac Factory, serving macaroni cheese, hot dogs and burgers, Yorky Shack, offering Yorkshire pudding wraps, Burger Burger, 2 Lads Kitchen, offering Afghan street food, Buffalo Joe's, with flavoured chicken wings, Piddaji, with Turkish-style pizza, Da ja, with chicken and halloumi burgers, and Moco Kitchen, serving bao buns and gyoza.
Each slot lasts from two to two-and-a-half-hours, so those drinking alcohol throughout will need to order more than just the one dish and thankfully there are great dessert options too, which were Churros and Chorizo, Bam Bam Crêpes and Sully's Brownies when I went.
The event is organised by Norfolk-based AfterDark Promotions, which had to adapt this year as it normally organises club and live music nights.
We tried a selection of dishes, which ranged in price from £4 to £10, and my favourite was the festive option from Burger Burger which was indulgent and the perfect winter comfort food, with a beef burger topped with breaded Camembert, sage and onion stuffing and fig chutney.
I also loved the festive 'bao and blankets' buns from Moco Kitchen, which had Norfolk sausages wrapped in miso-glazed bacon, and it was a delicious British and Asian fusion.
The gooey halloumi fries from Da Ja were the best I've ever had and the churros at Churros and Chorizo were superb and a generous portion.
There were good options for those with dietary requirements, including vegetarians and vegans, and my boyfriend was delighted that Bam Bam Crêpes did a vegan range as he has a dairy allergy.
London-based brewer Jubel has returned after proving popular in the summer and offers grapefruit, elderflower and peach flavours which are excellent. I had a mixed boxed delivered to my house after trying them at the last event.
Both the Jubel and main bar are in repurposed shipping containers with neon lights and the cocktails were in a pint glass and really tasty, not just packed with ice and sickly syrups, and I loved the Junkyard Sands with spiced rum, peach liquor and pineapple, apple, lime and mango juice.
The mulled wine went down a treat and warmed us up and there were also boozy hot chocolates, with Baileys, dark rum or Disaronno, but we were too full to try them.
Junkyard Market felt safe throughout and it was a great chance to catch-up with friends while enjoying excellent food and drink.
You can book tickets at junkyardmarket.co.uk