address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8QH
telephone: 020 7326 0643
This is a new venture – so new that it doesn’t have a large sign but just a discreet one fitted earlier on the day we visited. So when you get to Brixton Village, just keep walking down Coldharbour Lane but keep a look out, as it’s easy to miss. It lies in an unlikely position on a stretch that has plenty of restaurants (see our post about Majestic), but none of these are for the higher end of the food market. It’s opposite the Barrier Block, between a Morley’s Fried Chicken and a Fish and Chip shop. This is a new bar/restaurant with a narrow frontage but stretching back a long way so don’t be put off if it looks full from outside. The front part is really a bar with two tables for four and some bar stools around the edges. The back room has many more tables and is set for the evening dinner trade. It was opened by two entrepreneurs Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza who have 25 years of experience in the industry. I don’t know whether that is by drinking or preparing the cocktails but they do describe themselves as drinks impresarios and we have to agree that they are very creative – more of that later. There’s been some discussion on the Urban 75 Brixton forum here.
We arrived at 7.00pm and sat in the front. We had just said goodbye to one of the family who has left to spend a year in New York, so were drowning our sorrows with a couple of cocktails. The first was a “bandage of brothers” which arrives is a small neat glass accompanied by a bit of gun powder, a toy soldier and a plaster (snow queen vodka, poppy liqueur, wolfschmidt kummel, sherbet and sweetener) – who can resist a drink which comes with bit of gunpowder. Just throw it on the ground to produce a large bang and get rid of the day’s problems. It was a bit sweet for my taste but clearly meant for that alcopop market. Most of the wide range of cocktails are along these lies, complex but with interesting ingredients. Our second cocktail was relatively simple and, appropriately enough, was a “New York sour” (which was effectively a Manhattan with a red wine float) that came with a piece of toasted lemon. It was all frothy on top and delicious.
We were given water in some elegant glasses and contemplated the menu between sips. There is a selection of bar food, things called the beginnings, the middle and the end (which was only one dessert this week but we are promised at least three next week).
The cocktail creativity passes into the food as you choose from roast figs, curried aubergine or smoked haddock and pickled root for starters and a selection of wild mushrooms, seabass, wild roots confit, slow roasted pork belly or steaks and ribs. We shared a starter of figs wrapped in pigs belly (bacon to you and me), curd, and pistachio which was fantastic and the best part of the meal.
There was a mix-up with the main courses, so the seabass with curried flavours and spinach arrived first with some wild roots (not ordered). The fish was really well cooked with crispy skin and a portion that didn’t fill the plate but was certainly enough for dinner.
The second main dish arrived later and was the mushrooms with an oak and fern broth and caraway cracker. The broth comes steaming in a small glass teapot – not only looking adorable but tasting fantastic. Luckily we had a serving spoon to use to spoon it out. The mushrooms are very thick and juicy and were definitely a main course.
This is not your cheap and cheerful restaurant but we think it might fill the space of the recently closed “Upstairs” (eatinbrixton restaurant of 2013). The cocktails (apart from at happy hour 5.00pm to 7.00pm) are between £7.00 and £10.00. Many contain ingredients that are surprising like jugged peas (for two people – so Richard take note we can share). It is said to contain: pea shoot and ham liquor, chicken stock, tomato consommé, lemon, asparagus and chicken skin as well vodka – sounds nearly a meal in itself. While we were there drinks passed by made in jelly containers and in surprising colours. They also have a small selection of wine by the bottle and the glass.
The food is not cheap and the total bill came to £60.77 including service. But we did not begrudge it at all as a bit of a treat and we will go back for more drinks, more food and another blast of Franz Ferdinand, the Clash or the very loud Hip Hop music.
If you are planning to eat later than 7.00pm we suggest you book a table.