Favourite Restaurant Poll 2015

So our 4th birthday was a couple of days ago but in keeping with tradition we decided to do another poll to see what the best restaurant in Brixton is. Just to be clear we are only including those that we have reviewed – there are so many popping up every week it’s hard to keep up now so apologies if we haven’t made it to your fave yet. Comment below with any suggestions for places that we should visit!

Poll will end Friday 4th September so get your votes in soon!

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That’s It Restaurant

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126 Acre Lane

London SW2 5RJ

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

In addition to those restaurants in the centre of Brixton there are those that ought to be described as “off the well beaten track. This is one of them.

We’ve been walking up and down Acre Lane for more than thirty years and never spotted this place before. Maybe it’s new but it lurks behind the bus shelter and, at first glance, might be taken as just another greasy spoon. But it has bigger ambitions, offering “original grilled food” and claiming “The Genuine Portuguese Taste”. Our interest was sparked when we spotted the tables set with wineglasses and napkins. Even more when we saw it had handwritten menus offering a wide range of Portuguese specialties. Continue reading

Donostia Social Club – Pop Brixton

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To find: Pop Brixton 49 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8PQ

telephone: 079 6184 4464

email: donostiasc@yahoo.co.uk

http://www.donostiasocialclub.co.uk/Pop_Brixton.html

We had heard good things about this restaurant/tapas bar and after an early show at the Ritzy on Saturday we went along for a snack. We certainly were not disappointed by the food, the ambience or the really helpful staff. At the outset we want to say this is a gem and you should visit.

As you may aimlessly wander around Pop Brixton we thought we would give explicit directions. Pop Brixton is a collection of large storage containers offering food, drink and the occasional piece of jewellery or clothing. Donostia Social Club is on the upper level and can only be approached from the set of stairs on the right immediately after the entrance.

Donostia is the Basque name for San Sebastian, a town with more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is also famous for Pintxos – large sized tapa and this restaurant provides small and larger ones to tempt the palate and soak up the heavy reds or cool sherries. The bar where we sat offers a sanctuary in busy Pop Brixton. You can contemplate the menu and chat to the waiters. It is long and thin. Even when busy there may be seats at the kitchen end. You can also sit outside or at high tables inside. This is definitely built for the summer and any cooler months which makes it stand out from the crowd.

dsc02The menu has snacks. The usual ones to go with a drink (olives, dried broad beans, large salted almonds etc.) and then they have plates of cheese and/or meat and one of our long-term favourites – pan con tomate. We chose a plate of meat and the almonds with the pan con tomate before we were tempted by the tapas menu.

The main part of the menu is divided into meat, fish and vegetables and each is a tapas sized portion. We chose duck, piquillo peppers and a daily special, truffled mushrooms. We failed to take a picture of the menu and it does change, so do not rely on the online version.

Everything was wonderful and we have lots to compare it with as we are frequent visitors to Spain. The meat consisted of three “sausages” – chorizo, salchichon and catalan fuet (a thinner more meaty and less fat type of salami). It came with bread and olives. We really need to point out the olives – large manzanilla green ones, small lemony ones, meaty black ones with lemon pieces. We have never had a mixture so good and we often complain that many of the Brixton restaurants fail on this very small item.

But onto the other dishes. The pan con tomate was certainly up to our high standards. It all depends on the quality of the tomatoes and the olive oil and they had it just right.

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The mushrooms come on pieces of bread too and were perfectly seasoned although being greedy we wanted a bit more truffle. But there were two other stars of this show (apart from the olives). First the piquillo peppers which are stuffed with  smokey aubergine and picos blue cheese and surrounded by tomato sauce. Although this didn’t come with bread we had lots to wipe up every inch of sauce and the peppers were sweet and salty with a hint of the smokiness – heaven.

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The duck was the other star. When we cut into it we thought it might be a bit tough but that was the fault of the knives. It was again seasoned well and came with a vegetable puree (see picture).dsc07

There was a chocolate desert but we were too full to even contemplate it.

We washed the whole lot down with a glass of ice cold Fino and three glasses of very acceptable Ribero del Douro. Surprisingly the whole lot came to £51.70 before service. This we thought was value for money. Interesting food, a pleasant ambience and a really slick operation. All the drinks and dishes came at the right intervals and there was none of the chaos that we have seen in other restaurants in Brixton. We hope they continue to flourish in the highly competitive pop-up scene in Brixton

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address: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ

hello@kricket.co.uk

http://www.kricket.co.uk/

This is on the second floor of Pop Brixton – the arrangement of storage containers near the Recreation Centre. It is a narrow corridor of a restaurant with just one line of tables with bench seating inside for about 20 covers but there is more space outside in clement weather. It is open 6-11pm Monday to Thursday but opens at lunchtime on Friday to Sunday. Kricket offers Indian small plates served with cocktails, so I suspect they do not expect you to stay long.

The menu is short and the expectation is that most people will chose three – but we managed with two each and felt that was sufficient when we left. We chose Bhel Puri which has raw mango; Samphire Pakoras; Keralan Fried Chicken; and Vindaloo Bavette. The Bhel Puri was fantastic and lives up to the one we had at a knowledgeable friend’s house a little while ago. The Samphire Pakoras were not our favourite but we competently crisp. The fried chicken was great and the Vindaloo, while tasty and a good bit of meat, was not hot as the name ought to suggest – even for me.

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We accompanied the food with a couple of cocktails; an Old Narangi made of cardamom bourbon, marmalade and orange; and a Plummaharaja made from cardamom vodka, calvados, plum and  ginger. Both were sweet and interesting with a lot of attention to detail, which might explain how long they took to arrive.

Would we return – probably and to have the same food. The menu is short, so it’s easy for even a couple to try everything in a single visit. It is expensive at £44 before a tip, but that is partly explained by the cocktails. Nevertheless we did enjoy the food and ended up replete with not enough space to even try the Gulab Jamon with clotted cream ice cream, so it felt ok for a Friday night out.  However, it’s not really a place to linger so don’t expect to make it a long night.

 

 

Blue Jay at Cornercopia

65 Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour lane,London, SW9 8PS

Twitter  @bluejaybrixton

Instagram  bluejaybrixton

email bluejaybrixton@gmail.com

http://brixtoncornercopia.co.uk/

Open:

Thursday to Sunday evenings – 6.00pm to 10.00 pm

Saturday & Sunday brunch – 11.00 am to 3.00 pm

Cornercopia hosts various pop-up restaurateurs. Currently it is Blue Jay and they have not yet decided when this particular arrangement will end. Cornercopia is described in a number of previous posts (see here, here, here and here), so this time we will concentrate on the food.

This is an easy restaurant menu – three starters, three mains, one dessert and a cheese option. When we visited in July (and they plan to change them monthly) the starters were chicken BLT, mackerel with pickled gooseberries and samphire) and a veggie option. We chose the mackerel between us and it was really interesting and (as we were not starving) plenty for the two of us. Saying it was interesting might suggest that we couldn’t decide whether we liked it or not but we definitely did and would have happily had a larger portion for a main.bj04

The same themes are also in the list of main – fish (sea bass, barley couscous tabouleh and braised fennel),  meat (chilli rubbed braised pork shoulder, runner beans, shallot and hazelnut) and a veggie option (salt baked jersey royals, grilled courgette and sheep’s cheese). We chose the fish and the pork.

The fish came whole on a plate not really big enough for dissection. They use the same enamel bowls they sell in their shop. I was given a separate dish to put the bones in but it still meant being very careful, warily chewing every bit slowly – probably good for the digestion but not for the enjoyment of the dish. The tabouleh/couscous was very good and a shame it wasn’t part of the veggie dish. The fennel was soft enough but gave a bit of texture too.bj06

The roast pork was not too much to frighten off diners worrying about their waistline and while the sauce was tasty and the hazelnuts provided some texture, the flavours were muted and the runner beans were undercooked.

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The only offer of dessert was a peach with some “crumb” type thing so we stopped there and visited the Lab-G gelateria for pudding.

We drank two glasses of rosé and a beer. The meal was tasty and interesting, but it came to a staggering £55.00 with service. Each of the mains was £12.00 and the starters began at £7.50. We are not averse to spending hard cash (they only take cash) for good quality food but we thought this was overpriced.

Valhalla

address: 29 Market Row, SW9 8LB

We have tried many times to visit this sandwich bar but their opening times are erratic to say the least. It seems to be closed for most of the week and even on a Friday they seem to lag behind everyone else. It was pot luck on a Saturday lunchtime that we walked past, it was open and we were hungry. This is a small Danish sandwich bar – understated with minimal interior of just four tables and another small collection in market row.

The menu is also understated but has breakfast and lunch with eggs of various sorts and toasted sandwiches with vegetarian options. We had a hot dog with Danish mayonnaise and a focaccia cheese toastie, with tea and an Americano. The food is not horrible but it is unremarkable. If you want a straight sandwich then it’s fine.

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But prepare for a leisurely lunch, so don’t go too hungry. The service is very slow – presumably because they do not get much practice. Each sandwich is made to order which in our eyes (and stomachs) is a definite plus but then they do everything in series not in parallel, even though several of us were ordering the same thing. This is not a frenetic kitchen. It has zen-like calm but it did mean we sat for 35 minutes with cups of cooling tea and coffee waiting for something to arrive. We felt that they only noticed us and paid some attention when we did finally plucked up the courage to ask where the food was. We were offered another beverage but by then I just wanted to go home. The total bill for two sandwiches and drinks was £13.70 and they only take cash.

A short bus ride away No. 4 – Jimmy’s Secret Garden

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address: 409 Clapham Park Road, Clapham SW9 9BT

telephone: 020 7737 0722

email: bookings@jimmyspopup.com

http://www.jimmyspopup.com/

LAST CHANCE TO BOOK THIS MONTH This is another incarnation of Jimmy Garcia’s pop-ups and it is only around until 31st August and it is very popular so you do need to book ahead (if more than 9 people you need to phone). There is a small wooden door across the road from Clapham North tube station which leads up amongst a great mix of artificial and real plants to an indoors and outdoors space which absolutely suits the name of “The Secret Garden”. Botanical cocktails abound and it is open on Sundays for a slow waking up or relaxing run down of the weekend.

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As I said it is busy and on the night we visited there was a party of 12 in the private dining room which explained much … but read on. The menu is short and we chose salmon tortellini, lamb neck and peas and love for starters, and roast belly pork and chorizo and guinea fowl for the main course. Everything took a long time to arrive apart from the alcohol (a couple of bottles of Crianza). There was a large party upstairs that took a lot of attention and several of the main course choices were now off the menu. But when they arrived they were all interesting although the chorizo and guinea fowl were not up to the same standard as the other dishes.

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When I say we waited an age it was a very long time, so dinner stretched out. But as some compensation we were given a mixture of desserts to choose from to complete the meal. There were doughnuts (or perhaps churros) and chocolate, small pots of creamy pudding and some cheesecake type thing. We are writing this trying to remember exactly what they were and have no record of them.

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