Address: 94-95 Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PS
Telephone: 020 7737 2648
Monday to Wednesday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Thursday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
El Rancho de Lalo has been in Brixton Village for as long as we can remember and has just re-opened after a bit of a spring clean and paint. It was one of the first places we reviewed, favourably, back in 2012 and it still holding its own. Thankfully, the menu hasn’t changed much and it is sticking to filling (see photos below) simple Colombian food. We went around 12:30 pm on Friday lunchtime and had to wait, briefly, for a table. By the time we got our food there was a lengthy queue, both for sit down meals and takeaways.
The inside has not changed except there are fancy new extractors and three large colourful paintings that could have a Columbian origin. Thankfully, the seating is more comfortable as well. Tables outside now have a heater and all seats (including those inside) have a blanket. There are only eight tables inside and we shared with a single woman who clearly knew the menu better than we did. The service was friendly, came with a smile. Most diners were South American and Spanish was the main language spoken on the tables near us. So the hipster community can regard this restaurant as authentic.
Although the menu has starters, sides, mains and desserts, consider your tolerance for carbohydrate when choosing, as any course is very filling. Plantain and cornbread appear often. Soup was either fish or marinara and we ordered the fish and our table companion had the marinara. The difference seemed only to be the mussels and the thickness of the broth. The fish soup had a tasty broth surrounding fish, potato and something else we were never able to identify but was fibrous and tasted like potato. The other starter was cornbread and a soft Columbian cheese. This took a little time to arrive as the cornbread is made to order. But I knew if I ate it all there would be little room left for anything else, so I just nibbled round the edges. The cheese was bland and the cornbread could do with a bit more salt, but luckily they provide a dainty pot on the table.
Our main courses were Tilapia Frito and Rancherito. The Tilapia comes with salad and rice and plaintain and is huge. If you don’t like your food looking at you this is not the dish for you. I wrestled to eat as much of the protein as possible but only ate half of it and didn’t really touch the rice. I noticed many other diners leaving with pots, so expect to be eating the meal again as a takeaway.
The Rancherito is a mixed grill of chicken, pork and beef with plantain, potato croquettes, cornbread, salad and a pot of guacamole – pause for breath…. At least the menu said it was guacamole, although this was very different; much more runny with a sharp lemony taste – it went well with the plantain. Again this was all great and the plate was emptied. At the end, when you think there is no possibility of eating more, there is a delicious piece of orange to finish. Both photographs help you understand that these are really large plates.
Dessert was not an option, if we were going to do any work in the afternoon. But anyway, we had ordered drinks which substituted – a soursop and a passionfruit in milk (think milk shake).
This all came to £41.00 and you could have managed with half the amount of food and halved the bill. As they say on their Facebook page – eat, drink, enjoy, try a taste of Columbia.. We will be back when we have lost a few pounds.