address: 55 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8PS
This bills itself as Pakistani street food – halal but not too spicy. I suspect it is an anglicised version but nonetheless tasty. Get there early, as with most restaurants in Brixton Village, as it opens at 6.30pm and by 7.30 its is full but that’s ok. You get put on a stool, told it is only 10 minutes to wait for a table and even if it was a little longer you get to see what everyone else is eating. This is a restaurant which lives in the aisle of the market and has little space inside with the usual mismatched chairs and stools surrounding this small pop up cafe.
The menu is very short. Starters are pakoras, chaat and samosas. The mains are thalis – vetable, chicken or keema which all come with daal, raita, salad and naan. There are, of course, curries but as we waited we noticed that most people were having thalis so they were our choices with pakora and samosa to start. That was probably our mistake – always assuming we can finish what was a relatively large portion with raita and salad before heading into the thalis.
Both the starters were delicately spiced with just enough heat for my own taste. The samosa’s lived up to their reputation with the delicate pastry while the pakora’s were just plain yummy. Again the keema and chicken curries were delicately spiced but really interesting but the best part of the thali was the daal. I have heard he makes his own garam masala and if this is what is in the daal then I want the recipe. It was so good that we asked for a box to take the remains away for the next day’s lunch. They were very obliging and gave us a plastic lunch box to take it away as they don’t actually do takeaway. We wanted to try the chai or a dessert but no room was left to even consider it for research purposes. Elephant also offer a variety of non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks but we chose a simple glass of tap water and mango lassi.
This is a charming restaurant where the service was helpful and jolly. The noise and the busy comings and goings in the alleyway may be reminiscent of Pakistani streets but probably the cold isn’t. Like all restaurants that have tables in the alleys in the market they will suffer in the winter so wear a coat scarf and possibly gloves. We thought we would pay further visits to this unpretentious cafe but perhaps during the day or when spring sets in. This is also a BYO restaurant so don’t forget your beer or wine.
It all came to about £25 for the two of us with two sets of starters, mains and mango lassi’s.