address – 18 Market Row, Brixton, SW98LD
telephone: 0207 5019152
Salon has little changed in decor from its previous incarnation. Just a few more tables which are easier to sit at and the arrangement still allows for squeezing past with balanced plates. Downstairs is also now a place to dine on high stools.
Christmas for many is about sitting and watching the new Dr Who, after stuffing themselves with a roast and wondering whether it’s time to tackle the Chocolate Orange. But some are not so lucky, so we want to offer the chance for everyone to give, as well as receive.
We should, of course, be thinking about our neighbours all year. But at what is a time of gluttony as well as a family celebration (at least it is in our house), we ought to give some thought to whether any of our neighbours have problems feeding themselves and their family.
The report out this week by the Joseph Rowntree Trust (link here) makes it clear that there has been an increase in the number of people who are in poverty. In other words, they don’t have enough money to achieve what is generally considered to be a minimum acceptable standard of living. We can campaign about the unfairness of Universal Credit for the whole year, but we are not going to do much about the economy in the next few weeks. However, we can do our bit to make it a bit better for those at the receiving end of Government policies and one of those ways is to support a local food bank.
We advise giving to our local Food Banks, which offer cheap or free food for families in need. At Christmas, with the longer school holidays, Food Banks need even more than during the rest of the year.
Christmas for us is mainly based around eating and drinking, be it at home or in and around Brixton – booze and food is a must. Therefore it’s great to hear that some local restaurants in the area have signed up to StreetSmart for this festive season, all to raise money for the wonderful local charity Brixton Soup Kitchen.
StreetSmart is an annual restaurant campaign that fundraises for homeless people by adding a voluntary £1 to the diners’ bill at the eateries who have signed up.
With Brixton, and the surrounding boroughs of Wandsworth, Lambeth and Croydon, recently ranking in the top twenty areas across the country with the highest rates of homelessness it is great to see the restaurant community coming together to highlight and raise money to combat this problem and improve the lives of our neighbours. It is estimated that over 300,000 people are currently homeless across the UK, with London boroughs at the forefront of this increase.
address: Pop Brixton far aisle ground floor
website: in course of preparation
On a bleak Saturday we took the family to Pop Brixton to try some of their new offerings. Sakeya Sushi is definitely new, so with most of us being sushi fans, we settled on that. We do like Pop Brixton but most of the restaurants have only limited places to sit and on Saturday afternoon the place was heaving, with no space at either end in the general seating areas. Iz Sakeya has been creative and provided a ledge to balance the sushi on, but we had to stand, with the result that it was inevitably a quick meal.
The menu is short – Iz Sakeya specialises in two sakes (sparkling (£10) and premium (£45)) and mainly salmon and rice sushi. In fact they say they have head-to-tail salmon cuisine but they do say they can also cater for vegetarians. We had sushi (2), sashimi (2) and what was called a Poke Don salad, with more salmon. The salmon and avocado rolls were lovely. The three pieces of sashimi (a Ngiri set, with salmon, sea bass and tuna) were great, with two being delicately seared via a blow torch. The Poke Don salad had avocado, edamame, salmon, rocket and rice. The rice in all the dishes was really good with the right consistency; far from the mush you get from some of the chains.
We did enjoy what turned out to be a snack, although when one of our party saw the size of the plates, he chose instead to visit the burger bar next door for a rather good looking burger plus a portion of chips, which we all were happy to share. Those of us who had the sushi (without the sake) were pleased with the meal, although don’t go there hungry – just think of it as a potential first course. The bill came to £31 for 4 people, without any drinks.
Afterwards we went off to Parissi in Atlantic Road for coffee and cakes.
address: 250 Ferndale Road SW9 2BQ
telephone: 020 7733 8356
We usually wait until we have had a few trips to a new restaurant before we review, but on this occasion we really wanted to provide them with some feedback.
This new restaurant is based in an iconic building which used to be an annex of the Bon Marche department state and was subsequently used as the Brixton Post Office. The renovated interior is designed by Red Deer with the usual exposed brick, pipes and a long Edwardian style panelled bar. Most seats are banquette style which seat 6 people at a squeeze but there are tables outside and inside for bigger parties. Not only do they offer meals and a fully stocked bar with plenty of small vat gins but you can also hot desk with a sessional card which allows bottomless coffee. So were were pretty excited when six of us went for Sunday Brunch.
Brunch menus offer a mix of alcoholic cocktails, a selection of egg dishes, pasta and, of course, a bacon sandwich. The big bacon sandwich was just that – big. Three slices of toasted sour dough with bacon, eggs, and the spicy tomato ketchup (mushrooms were missing on mine) with chips. The chips were delicious but toasting the bread was a complete mistake. You needed good teeth and a sawing method with a knife to get through the thick crust. We advise thinner slices or less crust to begin with.
American pancakes were more like welsh cake size – small and perfectly formed but not the gross US style but were perfectly edible. The Italian baked eggs didn’t need to be called Italian but were also OK. Finally the Chef’s meatballs (‘Nduja tomato sauce, parmesan with pecorino, lemon & red onion focaccia) was also OK but came about 15 minutes after everyone else’s food but we filled him up on the chips.
We washed it all down with three or four cocktails and coffee. One of us had the ‘bottomless mimosa’ but the service was so slow there was no chance of making good use of the option.
This lack lustre review is because we were left without any attention unless we overcame our natural inhibition and grabbed a waitress. Coffee came quickly, cocktails came slowly (took half an hour) and the food took an hour to appear after we managed to order it (more than 90 minutes after we arrived) and then not all the dishes at the same time. We saw every single member of the waiting staff and no-one seemed to be in charge of looking after our table. We were relatively early (11 am booking). The place was full by 1.00 pm and we have no idea if late arrivers got their food by the end of service although other reviews we’ve seen suggest that our experience was fairly typical.
Sunday brunch is a time to relax with family and friends and we were happy to do so but not when anxious that we would be forgotten yet again. This is a management failure in terms of the training and allocation of staff. The bar was within spitting distance and we should have had our drinks in short order. By the time that brunch arrived we were all fed up with the place.
We wish them well in the future and we will make another attempt when they’ve got their act together. The bill (which was wrong on the first attempt) came to £126.00 for six. We didn’t leave a tip.
Address: 395 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LQ
Phone: 020 7326 4200
Monday to Friday: 5.30pm–11pm
Sundays & Bank Holidays: Midday–5pm
This is the Coldharbour Lane branch of this small chain – there’s just another one in Fitzrovia. The food, says the owner, Shrimoyee Chakraborty, is inspired by her mum’s cooking and the “amazing local cuisine” of Calcutta. We’ve been a couple of times in the evening and been seriously impressed by the exciting cooking on offer. It’s a particularly good replacement for what was previously yet another burger bar.
Address: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PQ
Telephone: 07421 327556
A new addition to Pop Brixton in the restaurant/shipping container that used to be Kricket. This is a quality small plates restaurant and maybe, like Kricket it will end up in Soho. The layout has changed just a little, with the long passage with a few tables inside and a high bar whilst outside for the foolhardy, are tables for four. The three of us shared the only inside table that takes more than two people – it was cosy.
The short menu is in three parts and the advice for the three of us was to choose two from each section and potentially one on top for the very hungry. We stuck to six dishes so we had room – but not much – for dessert. All dishes arrived at a leisurely pace so we could linger over each and all are small enough not to fill you up but are large enough to share.