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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a review mainly about cocktails but it includes the food too. I have relied on my dinner companion and photographer to nudge my memory. I hadn’t seen this friend for a long time, so we decided to celebrate in the Fox Bar before eating. So, as we didn’t want to appear too eager we arrived at 5.10 (it opens at 5). We were the only customers but it was relaxed and the service was fantastic. We have covered here before (see here) so this is more of an update.
After ordering a couple of cocktails (Earl of Gimlet – Gin- Bergamot – Grapes), we were then offered free celebratory glass of Bollinger by one of the bar staff, as it was his birthday present. Then we had another couple of rounds of cocktails (Reynold Reserve – Tequila – Islay Whisky – Apricot and also a Red Hook – Rye Whisky – Bitter – Maraschino). We well and truly tested the drinks menu! – all drinks were great, not too sweet and very aromatic.
Feeling peckish and not being able to make too many choices, we ventured only a few feet away to the restaurant, where surprisingly we were not the only one’s present. We each ordered a Dirty Burger (succulent deep fried chicken in a burger bun) and both of us were converted – deep fried chicken is a real winner. The meat was succulent, not too much sauce and anyway you could ask for more of the hot stuff. We both decided the bun was superfluous but the crunchy greens were really enjoyable and made us feel healthier.
My memory from thereon is more than hazy, we moved onto another of our favourite bars in Brixton (Three Eight Four), where our taste in cocktails diverged with my friend opting for a dry Gin Martini and I went for a classic Vesper. The mixologist did us proud producing two very good classic cocktails, although by this time I’m not 100% sure either of us were in any fit state to call ourselves a connoisseur I think two Vespers/Martinis contributed to a staggering walk home and I have now downloaded the Drink Aware App and trying to stick to 14 units a week. A more purist lifestyle will also help with the credit card bill. The advice from two people who should have known better is, go to Chickenshop but a beer is all you will need for a good night out.