Lunchtime Ramen

Ramen is trendy and I’m a great fan. Particularly at lunchtime. But despite Brixton’s ‘foodie’ reputation, it’s not so easy to find, particularly on weekdays. So, for those who share my addiction, here’s a brief guide of what’s available.

Ramen is seen as a classic Japanese dish, although I’ve been surprised to discover that it originated in China and has only become dominant since the second world war, when cheap wheat imports became available. Named for the eponymous type of noodles, it’s served invariably with a tasty stock plus garnishes, usually meat and vegetables.

Here’s four places in Brixton that I considered for my Ramen fix, but you will see that early in the week there’s only one or two of them that are actually open. I might have missed somewhere so don’t hesitate to let me know. Continue reading

Llewelyn’s Restaurant

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Address: 293–295 Railton Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0JP

Website: http://llewelyns-restaurant.co.uk/

Phone:  0207 733 6676

Email: bookings@llewelyns-restaurant.co.uk

Opening times (for food):
Tuesday – Friday 12 Noon – 2.30 pm and from 6.00 pm
Saturday 12 Noon – 3.00 pm and from 6.00 pm
Sunday 12 Noon to 3.30 pm

Despite the Railton Road address, Llewelyn’s is definitely in Herne Hill, just to left of the Station. If it hadn’t been so hot we might well have walked through Brockwell Park but, in the event, we went by bus, calling in en route at the First Aid Box (review here) for some excellent cocktails.

Llewelyn’s inherits a site with a history. Many have mourned the loss of “Pullen’s”, and before that the brasserie “La Provencal” but the site now offers a modern minimalist style. The blank canvas is potentially noisy, especially on a hot Friday evening. But we had the added bonus of one diner on a nearby table having a laugh that was on the threshold of pain. Nevertheless, the three of us enjoyed the food and will doubtless return.

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24 The Oval – a short bus ride away

Address: 24 Clapham Road, London SW9 0JG

Phone: 020 7735 6111

Website: https://24theoval.co.uk/

Opening times (for food):
Wednesday – Thursday: 18:00 – 22:00
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 – 15:00 & 18:00 – 22:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 16:30

The restaurant is set back from the road and has an outside veranda for those who need more sun. Inside is modern and spare in furniture. This was a work dinner on a weekday, so we arrived at 6.00 pm and even with the warm weather the restaurant was pretty empty except for the determined cocktail drinkers. We got rid of most of the business part of the meal first – oiling the wheels with an Aperol Spritz and a Campari Spritz (or two).

There are three menus – one a la carte and two tasting menus (vegan and non-vegan). We went for a la carte. First up came sourdough with smoked butter. The butter had half melted and I am not sure I could taste any smoke but the bread was pretty good. Next came the homemade charcuterie which was all tasty and we really loved the ham. We continued on the meat theme with beef crockets – again delicious.

The smoked eel with the turnip cannelloni and apple made a good interlude as did the jersey royals with crispy skins cultured cream and lemon which looked lovely but wasn’t a highlight.

This built to the main event – a really delicious dish called “Daphne’s Welsh lamb” which was to share. It consisted of roast loin, Lancashire hot pot, slow cooked belly, BBQ offal served with smoked aubergine, fennel and preserved lemon. Unfortunately our photograph was a bit shaky (no comments please) but it was a large portion for two and every bit was delicious.

We washed it all down with a bottle of rosé and the final bill came to £150 including the tip. Shame we couldn’t charge it to the firm. It was expensive but a lot was due to the alcohol and over-ordering and you could certainly do it for less and it would still be delightful.

Banh Banh

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Address: 326 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QH

Telephone: 020 7737 5888

http://www.banhbanh.com/peckham/ (Yes, although it does seem odd)

Opening hours:
Mon                      CLOSED
Tues –  Thu          6 – 10pm
Fri                         6 – 11pm
Sat                         11am – 3pm + 6pm – 11pm
Sun                        11am – 3pm + 6pm – 9pm

This is a new addition to Brixton – a Vietnamese street food restaurant. We haven’t visited their other branch in Peckham, but this one is bigger and definitely minimalist. Looks like plywood tables and school chairs or benches. Most tables are for two or four and there are two sittings each evening. We went on just their second night, so a few things needed ironing out like whether the lights come on in the toilets (relying on motion sensors that didn’t even respond to a lot of jumping and dancing).

The menu is short with dishes described as smallish, biggish, classic and side orders. We ordered from the biggish (Banh Khot pancakes) and the classics (Bun Noodle Salad), with a smallish (green papaya salad) to start.  The salad was delightful and not that smallish. It comes with large prawns. We had a good explanation of the ingredients (prawns, carrots, unripe papaya, red pepper, red onion etc., with some fish sauce and chilli). To keep the papaya crisp you have to plunge it into iced water and you can buy them (they are white fleshed) at Chinese and Asian supermarkets.

My choice for the next courses was not as good – the prawn pancakes were not what I expected. Although they were presented in an attractive way, they were a bit tough to eat and the pancake part a bit under-cooked. But I did as suggested and wrapped them in a lettuce leaf with some mint and dipped them in the sweet chilli sauce. A bit messy but you do get your greens.

The Bun Noodle salad is described as a vermicelli noodle salad with paddy field herbs, noodles, pickles, cucumber, topped with shallots + peanuts. It came with bbq pork patties and a pork and prawn spring roll. This was certainly biggish and also looked really attractive – it was dismantled due to hunger before we remembered to take the photo.It could of had a bit more zing and it’s a shame there were no extra condiments on the tables.

bb05We washed it down with two salty lemonades (there are several homemade drinks to choose from and tap water. There was a whole list of alcoholic drink but this was a school night. The bill including 12.5% extra for “optional service” came to £38.81. We are likely to return but probably not for a few months.

Oxalis at The Shrub and Shutter

Address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QH.
Phone: 020 7326 0643
Websites:

Location: http://www.theshrubandshutter.com/

Food: http://www.oxalislondon.com/

Monday – closed
Tuesday 5pm – midnight
Wednesday 5pm – midnight
Thursday 5pm – midnight
Friday 5pm – 2am
Saturday 5pm – 2am
Sunday – closed

Our normal approach is to keep you in the dark about what we think about a restaurant but we are breaking with this practice to tell you that Oxalis (the current pop-up caterers at Shrub and Shutter) are brilliant and we are not usually so enthusiastic. It’s not complicated food but it is imaginative with a focus on flavour.

We have reviewed the cocktails before; see here, here and here. But on this hot and steamy night we went for wine and beer. There are lots of things to choose from but we cut out that difficulty by choosing one of the tasting menus. There are two – one veggie and one with meat. We had the meat option. On top of this we were given an “amuse bouche” (aren’t we posh) of a warm squid ink cracker with dark crab meat topped with a lardon. Now you get the way this is moving. It was delicious – so delicious that it was eaten before we could take a photo.

Then we moved on to the main menu – a delicious tomato salad with elderflower and mustard. I am soon going to run out of superlatives as it was the best thing to start us off – fresh with little bursts of mustard flavour. All four of us were delighted.

Fennel tortellini, poppy seeds and crayfish – even though these are tasting menu portions there was definitely enough crayfish. So just sublime with a crunch.

Pork, kohlrabi and sea buckthorn came next- sounds interesting and it was but also excellent.
The empty half of the plate left room for some vegetables; new potatoes and grilled gem lettuce as shown in the photographs, plus some mange-tout.
The simple dessert was cherries, cream and a garnish of the eponymous oxalis (Google just said it was an edible weed, which doesn’t sound very appealing, but most of you have probably heard of wood sorrel).
All this flavour and innovation for £30.00 a head. The bill of was larger, of course, as it included our wine and beer. As we were celebrating in company we didn’t stint ourselves, although I paid for it with a hangover. Oxalis popped up in Shrub and Shutter just a month ago. It will be around for another 4 or 5 months but don’t waste any time – go and eat as soon as you can.

Station 26

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Address: Unit 26, Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PR

Tel: +44 20 3689 7124

E-mailstation26brixton@gmail.com

Website: https://www.station26.co.uk/

Opening Times:
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
Monday Closed
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 11:30 – 17:00
Thursday 11:30 – 22:00
Friday 11:00 – 22:00
Saturday 11:00 – 22:00

Note: This is a cash only restaurant.

We have returned to a longer standing restaurant in Brixton Village that seems much the same, but has changed it’s name at least a couple of times. It’s main distinctive feature is that it’s gluten free, with occasional vegetarian or vegan items. Set on a corner plot, there’s a few closely packed tables inside and outside around its two edges, but when we went at 6.30 on a Friday there was plenty of room.

The menu is blessedly short, with starters, mains and desserts. Starters include crab cakes, salads, bruschetta, including one with beans and chorizo, and hand cut chips but we opted to go straight to the mains. These include a tuna dish, crab, burgers (venison and halloumi), duck, chicken, pork ribs and finally a vegetable stack – so still a reasonable choice.

I chose the oddly named venison beef burger (maybe there was beef in the burger?) and my companion chose the crabcakes and salad. The burger obviously comes in a gluten free bun but also has tomatoes, some greenery and onion marmalade and is accompanied by a tub of chips. The gluten free bun is a bit spongy but a whole lot better than those you had to endure 25 years ago. It held the burger well until the last few mouthfuls and that may just be a lack of skill on my part. The chips looked OK but really weren’t crisp enough.

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There were three crab cakes. They do contain crab but they were under-seasoned and it was a bit of a lottery between them in terms of the proportion of potato. The salad was generous and had a great dressing.

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For pudding we shared a slice of pecan pie, served with a dollop of cream. This was good, so long as you like them at sweeter end of the spectrum, and the gluten-free pastry was excellent.

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S26_05The alcoholic drinks menu has beer and limited choice of wine – just one each of sparkling, white and red. We went for a bottle of the white and, while they had run out of the one on the menu, the alternative they provided was palatable. The total bill was £47.30 including service, but of that £17.00 was for the wine.

Kricket

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You remember Kricket in Pop Brixton – see our review here. We liked it’s original take on tapas type Indian meals for sharing, coming from a variety of places around the Indian subcontinent. We were sad to see it go to a more permanent setting in Soho, but it has now returned to its roots. There’s a new venue, in Atlantic Road in the two arches vacated by Brindisa. Design is minimal. Stretched corrugated metal over the arched ceiling and wooden tables and chairs for two, four or a crowd. It opened only a couple of weeks ago, so is enjoying a honeymoon period where booking is a must. They fitted us in as walk-ups at 6.20, but we only had the table for an hour. Continue reading