Naughty Piglets

np01address: 28 Brixton water lane, SW2 1PE

telephone: 020 7274 7796

email: http://www.naughtypiglets.co.uk/

 

 

 

This is a new addition to the Hootananny corner near the large Sainsbury’s on Tulse Hill. The small restaurant has an open kitchen, high chairs and tables at the front and then a few places in the back. The walls are lined with lathes which we thought would deaden the sound but they didn’t. We arrived early and had a quiet meal but some of the louder clients came in while we were eating dessert and made talking difficult.

This is an up-market addition to the Brixton restaurant scene that has already been reviewed by Fay Maschler and as we ate the Evening Standard were taking pictures. It is more expensive but still in its early days. A short menu with guesses about which are the starters (the cheaper dishes), a long wine list which included “orange” wines and all have the name and the grape. However, there isn’t much for vegetarians.

For the pair of us it was a game of two halves – I chose badly. My partner chose dashi with clams, pork belly and lemon posset which were all delicious. The clams were soft and the dashi was subtle with the Japanese spices creeping up slowly. The pork was soft and the Korean spices hot with a dressed little gem lettuce providing a bit of a crunch. The lemon posset was nearly on the butter side of creamy but probably as it was very cold and the pepper in the tuile crept up slowly.

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My choices were not so good. White asparagus with an egg yolk and parmesan was good but I only had one large spear and two would have been better (especially at £8.00). Next came the most expensive dish on the menu – the bavette. The chestnut mushrooms were a delight and so was the béarnaise sauce but what should have been the star was black and bitter from the carbon. My dessert was described as chocolate milk and almonds and turned out to be chocolate ice cream. All was very sweet and not to my taste but the almond and caramel addition was wonderful – slightly salty and the nuts were the star.

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We had four glasses of alcohol – their signature cocktail (vermouth, bay leaf and soda) and a glass of sparkling Vouvray to start and then a glass of the Cahors and a Cabernet Franc. We liked all of them. The bill came to £87.00 but we did have three courses. This is a potential replacement for a favourite restaurant, Upstairs, which closed recently. We hope this one does stay, although I will complain more loudly when I don’t like my meal next time.

Because of the limited space they do need to turn the tables over at least once per night and they were clear when we had to leave and it was plenty of time to go through the menu. The lack of space means you do need to book – try on their website.

Courtesan update

address: 69-73 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU

telephone: 0208 127 8677

http://www.thecourtesan.co.uk/

This is a little gem, filling a place in Brixton for a classier Chinese restaurant and there is lots more to read about from us here (click here for our previous post). There is now an extension  downstairs which feels like you are entering an opium den with precipitous stairs and a dark interior. But this downstairs room is surprisingly spacious and would be great for an intimate party.

Our round table for 5 was set up in a corner and other guests were around much larger table for about 12 to 18.

Dim Sum is a sort of Chinese tapas – small plates or steamer baskets of highly flavoured food to share. There are lots to choose from – steamed, fried, baked or grilled and covered in pastry, cotton wool, see through or flaky. Courtesan has enhanced the Chinese dishes with some Brixton flavours like jerk chicken sticky rice in a lotus leaf or the jerk ribs.

This  short post is just to say the food is even better. The fried squid was wonderful, jerk ribs soft and spicy and the grilled sea bass a brilliant way to start the meal. All our dishes were a delight. We had only a few as we had eaten our first course at home in case it was impossible to have a conversation – but it wasn’t. Despite the noise we contributed to the mayhem with political arguments and disagreements about student loans. The bill was about £21.00 per person including cocktails but those who are hungrier should expect to pay more as we had 8 dishes. Continue reading

The Billingsfield Kitchen at the Beehive

address: wherever they pop-up

telephone: 07773 397337

email: matt@thebillingsfieldkitchen.com

http://www.thebillingsfieldkitchen.com/

Lamb with clams, mackerel with rabbit?????? Sorry but it is Masterchef week. Yes those flavours are served up together and they are delicious. But by the time you read this it will be all over. This is a pop-up which was a sell out with their Tongue in Cheek menu at Cornercopia and has now has a repeat (although 6 months later) with their new Kitchen Dinner menu at the Beehive in Beehive Place.

The menu is fixed and called a tasting menu but don’t let that fool you in terms of the portions. The sharing plates are also conducive to the conversational style of the food. The waiters are always asking for feedback and they really take notice of an empty wine glass and an unopened bottle. We felt really coddled throughout. Tables are shared too and we had a pleasant evening talking about travelling with another couple who had just settled in Brixton.

On arrival we were given a martini glass full of rhubarb and grapefruit martini which really did taste of rhubarb. It was too sweet for a martini but certainly loosened the social inhibitions.

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The first course is a nibble – whitebait – and we thought this was the best we had had this year. It wasn’t oily or soggy as large batches often are. It was clearly cooked to order so was crispy and served with capers and herbs and some slabs of sough dough.

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Next came a clever quails egg rolled in shredded pastry and served with burnt lime mayonnaise. On the menu this is classed as a vegetable. The eggs were cooked but still runny but we would have liked much more lime in the mayo and a bit more salt on the eggs.

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Next came a potted hay-smoked mackerel pate with green olives and a rabbit terrine with leeks served with thin sough dough toast. The different textures went well together but on reflection they both needed a bit more seasoning.

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Lamb and clams is not the only thing served up in this level of the meal. You also get a whole Bream. This was a bit more difficult to serve as the lights had gone out and you needed to dissect the bones and be very careful putting anything in your mouth. But I thought the fish was cooked to perfection although my partner thought some bits were slightly under but better that way than overcooked and dry. We polished it all off. The Lamb was beginning to defeat me which was just because I was full and I certainly would have eaten it all if I could have. Neither flavour overwhelmed the other and the textures are similar with the crispy fat on the lamb and the slightly rubbery clams.Bill05Bill06

Vegetables are in short supply but at this stage the lamb and fish were served with a salt baked whole celeriac. I don’t generally choose this vegetable as I actually went off the taste of celery some time ago. But I am now a convert to this creamy hot and steamy mixture. It will now go on our list of special dishes for dinner with friends.

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Dessert was a Earl Grey pannacotta with orange curd and a delicious piece of well cut orange on the top.  The orange flavour comes at the beginning and then the Earl Grey creeps up on you so you float out of the meal.

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We are really enthusiastic about this group  and would really like to see them stay in Brixton. Their attention to seasonal and flavoursome food really impressed us. The current location really does play to their strengths of a shared eating experience. Their reputation should produce further interest (this was again a sell-out) and we hope a succession of customers. If you see an advert for another pop-up do go. This is interesting and surprising food with out being too taxing. At £35.00 plus £5.00 corkage per person we thought it was a bargain. We took a bottle with us but they also suggest using the local wine shops (Market Row Wines). Well done Billingsfield Kitchen. Do let us know where you end up and we hope it is nearby.

The Beast of Brixton

UpstairsAddress: 89B Acre Lane, entrance on Branksome Road, SW2 5TN

Telephone: 020 7733 8855

email: hello@thebeastofbrixton.com

http://www.thebeastofbrixton.co.uk/

 

 

Although the restaurant overlooks Acre Lane the door is in Branksome Road and even with these instructions it can be missed. There is a doorbell just round the corner of Acre Lane and a discreet notice. Gone is loved Upstairs and to replace it we have a bar with food with the unlikely and unlovely name of the Beast of Brixton. The first noticeable change is the speakeasy-imagelooking door on Branksome Road is now open if you push it. Up the stairs you find the same two small rooms one with a bar and the other an extension with seating for about 20 people. The interior is different with only the long beige couches left on either floor from the previous owners. The walls are now covered with colours and on each floor there is a feature wall of silver or flock skulls. As I said an unlovely name and unlovely walls.

This is really a bar with snacks which are small or large plates. The bar has a few drinks options – cocktails, wine and beer – but limited doesn’t mean uninteresting. The cocktails are cheap by Brixton standards and so are the other drinks and they sell it in the right quantities, i.e. 125ml glasses of wine are available here.

Each week they are now going to have a pop-up chef. We missed the Japanese street food and were there on the first night of El Marinero. Pop-ups seem to be all street food that can be prepared in the very small kitchen on the top floor so they will probably be chefs used to a van at a street market. Again the choice is limited – about 6 small and 5 large plates. Plates is a misnomer as they are served in a cardboard box. As El Marinero implies this week it is Spanish fish dishes like whitebait, scallops and chorizo and squid. Large plates are served with spinach salad (well more of a garnish) and rice.

BoB02We chose scallops and chorizo and the squid with a small plate of fried chillies. The chillies are not for the faint-hearted. The first bite is sweet and warm but that is before you get to the seeds which are fantastically hot. In fact the menu did warn that it was hot but as we left we noticed they had changed it to “very hot”. They came with a sweet tomato sauce and a lemony mayonnaise. The squid was cooked perfectly with enough flaked salt and pepper to make it interesting. The scallops were also cooked well, soft but not slimy.BoB06BoB05

The chef came out and gave us an extra dish – whitebait – which was to the same high standard.

 

BoB01We drank a Verdita (coriander, vodka and green chilli) which was a shock at first but very interesting and not too much like an alcopop, a rum, sorrel and spiced hibiscus (which was too sweet) and a glass of white wine. The whole lot came to £30.00. So for a fast food and cocktail restaurant this is reasonable value. But this is not fine dining but the food was good and the menu will change each week so there will always be something new to try.

Vegbar

vegbar01

Address: 45 Tulse Hill, Brixton, London,  SW2 2TJ
Telephone: 020 8678 0697

email: info@vegbar.co.uk

http://www.vegbar.co.uk

After returning from meat eating Colorado, where it was impossible to find even a tomato that wasn’t a garnish, it was a pleasure to go to a restaurant with nothing but vegetables. Vegbar has taken over the premises of the Portuguese restaurant Brazas on Tulse Hill. This corner is seeing an upswing in the types of cuisine offered with two new restaurants opening here in the last couple of weeks. It now offers Caribbean, Indian (Khan’s of Brixton), takeaway pizza and two new wine bar/restaurants as well as this Veggie-Vegan restaurant.

Vegbar has updated the interior by painting the inside all white and covering up the rather austere wood panelled walls. The light-heartedness stretches to tiny colour changing LEDs and multi-coloured light shades. The tables and comfortable chairs remain as does the open grill area. Vegbar opened its doors on March 26th and they were still finding their feet with an empty salt cellar and the soux chef occasionally forgetting a vital ingredient on the plate. But we enjoyed it. We hope it does well as it is not in Brixton Village but up the hill nearly opposite the large Sainsbury’s.

They offer small plates, which are all vegetarian and marked with vegan and/or gluten free as an occasional dish does contain cheese. All the descriptions make the plate inviting and we ordered four. The first a Junkyard Dog (a vegan hot dog topped with pickled chilli and fennel salad) was tasty because of the accompaniments. We thought it wasn’t fennel salad but some sort of cabbage or beetroot but we didn’t ask so we can’t be sure. Next we had an Arepa’s Delight which was cornbread topped with a scramble of tofu and black beans. We only noticed that the accompanying guacamole had not been added when we had eaten half but they were happy to bring us a bowl. Both were really interesting and the cornbread had just enough chili to warm the mouth but allow you to taste the more subtle flavours on the plate. The guacamole had little tomato (a plus for some) and lots of coriander. It needed a little more salt and that is when we discovered the empty pot.vegbar08

Next was Kumara Kings (sweet potato and spinach jerk bites with pineapple salsa). We were not so keen on these, as they were a bit dry and there was not enough of the pineapple salsa to go with them. The pineapple salsa was delicious – sweet and pickled and a little warm we could have eaten much more.

The star of the show was the last dish – Don’t know Jack? – spicy jackfruit and mushroom tacos with almond and plantain sauce (on the menu) but we thought it included tomato. There were three on the plate and we could have eaten them for the whole dinner. Who knew that jackfruit could taste so good. vegbar07

vegbar06We also ordered a side of sea salt and black pepper fries which were great after we added more salt and pepper.

They also have desserts but we were full. They did look interesting and again were vegan (pies and brownies with ice cream and alcohol). We will certainly try them next time.

We washed all this down with a couple of halves of Heineken. They did have wine but we didn’t see a drinks menu. The meal cost about £29.00 for two people including the drinks. A good value meal and we will certainly be visiting again with more people so we can try more of the small dishes.

Easter in Brixton – 2015

Easter is upon us again and as has become tradition, well since last year anyway, here are our tips on how to make the most of it in Brixton.

Thursday night is always about pub time. So make sure to head to one of our favourites, The Effra Hall Tavern for some jerk chicken and Red Stripes to ease you into the long weekend. Or, if you fancy something a bit special, then how about Shrub and Shutter or Unit 16 for some cocktails. Just make sure you line your stomach by hitting up Refill or Agile Rabbit, it is only the beginning of the weekend after all!

To nurse those hangovers on the Friday we’d suggest Senzala, whose chorizo and jalapenos galettes will sort you right out. Or if the weather holds out get take away Fish and Chips from our favourite, Olley’s on the Herne Hill side of Brockwell Park. Drinks in the evening should be at The Trinity Arms, where my housemates and I will undoubtedly be found with a few medium house whites and some of their Young’s special brew.

On Saturday Station Road market will be full to the brim with cakes and antiques so an amble down there is a must. Nothing says Saturday night like a curry so give yourself a rest and head to Khan’s on Brixton Water Lane. Perhaps even treat yourself to a cheeky nightcap at Effra Social.

Check out our blog on Butcher’s for your perfect Sunday Roast. And get your veg from some of the many shops on Electric Avenue.

By Easter Monday everyone is usually beat so put your feet up, stick on Netflix (I plan to finally finish House of Cards!) and have a cup of tea.

Beehive Place

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http://beehiveplace.com

11 Beehive Place, Brixton, London SW9 7QR

Telephone: 02072062376

Email: eat@beehiveplace.com

Sandwiched in the road next to Brixton Rec and directly behind the pub that no one should ever go in unless it’s an emergency is The Beehive. This is a pop-up that claims to be the best in locally sourced British food. With the food changing weekly, it’s a five course tasting menu from the team behind the roaming restaurant Chateau Marmont and chef Sam Hodges.

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