The Joint

Address: 4th Avenue, Brixton Village Market SW9 8PSjoint03

telephone: 07717 642812

We have taken our time to go to Joint. This is not because we were unwilling or because we have decided to go on a vegetarian diet, but because the queues are so long. But on this cold Saturday morning in February we thought we owed it to our readers to brave the long lines. So after much feet stamping and wishing we had two pairs of socks and gloves, we got a table – only about 15 minutes, although it seemed longer, even with the ideal opportunity to stare at the tourists who are now flocking to Brixton Village.

Joint is a small kitchen with all its tables outside in one of the cross avenues in Brixton Village. The base of the tables is made up of three of the plastic baskets that the bread buns are delivered in, which are topped with squared off black wood. The seating is a hard stool or, if you are lucky, a bench where you can rest back against a shop window. That is probably why it is pretty quick – the service is speedy and it is only comfortable for 30 minutes or so.

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Fish Wings N Tings

address: 96 Coldharbour Lane,

tel number: 020 7733 3401

Street_food-13Fish, Wings n Tings is in a corner of what is now known as Brixton Village. Given  the huge Carribean population in Brixton we were glad to visit a restaurant that might have home-grown food and make up for the loss of those wonderful greengrocers in Granville Arcade (aka Brixton Village) selling yams and stuff that might have been a vegetable or a pudding. There are three places to “eat in” comfortably in Brixton that serve Caribbean food – Bamboula (waiters have a lot to be desired), Verandah (great food and classy) and this place.  It is very small with an outside area which was a bit chilly given our current summer (rain with a hint of sun). Garden tables and chairs tightly are squeezed into the tiny space so the waiters have to shimmy around and each time we wondered if a plate would break free on a customer’s head.

On our visit we decided (as it was midweek) not to hit the cocktails but we saw some being made and thought they looked interesting. The menu is short and to the point – fish, chicken or goat. We had the jerk chicken and the goat curry with rice and peas. The jerk chicken was not as marinated as we hoped it would be (but more of that later when we do the full comparison). The goat was tender and spicy but also pretty dry and on overhearing my comment a jug of gravy was hurriedly provided. The rice and peas were pretty good too. However this is a short review because this is all we could manage as the rice and peas were pretty filling for a side.

We spent about £15 including a couple of beers and in terms of recommendations this is a hard one. We are really reviewing a meal and not the place. The waiters were helpful and the owner realising a problem put it right immediately….but caribbean food (except in Veranda) is homely and filling. If you are hungry then visit here – you will certainly not feel any further pangs for many hours afterwards.

Brixton Village

Brixton Village is the new food haven that was once a small market called Granville Arcade in the middle of Brixton. Gradually this market lost many of the shops and since the middle of last year it began growing with more and more pop-up restaurants. It is now a vibrant part of the local area attracting visitors on the way to the Ritzy or just out for the evening.

We decided to produce this introductory entry in order to help people plan a visit – although it is a place you can just wander into as it has something for everyone. The restaurants are a mixture of brand new and well established – mainly the South American ones. The new kids on the block are an eclectic mix of Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, French, Caribbean, Pakistan, Middle Eastern, American, and British and we have already reviewed the majority in this blog. They are not only eclectic in their origin but also within their menus with most stretching across the country barriers.  They also specialise – so Italian food comes as pizzas (Agile Rabbit), pasta (Belantonis, Casa Sibilla) and ice cream (Lab G). They are all sizes too with some squeezing into impossibly small places where virtually everyone is eating outside and others which are more established stretching across the alleyways to other rooms to provide more inside eating space.

The Village grew exponentially last year during the late summer and early autumn when it was pleasant to sit out in the middle of the arcade but even with the cold days and nights is still attracting hungry visitors. Some restaurants now offer the odd heater and a blanket or too for those hardy enough or hungry enough to sit outside but the savvy diners now know that they need to book to get a table inside.

Brixton Village is not just restaurants there are cafes (WAG – wheat and gluten free), coffee shops (Federation Coffee) and tea shops as well as places that sell sweets, secondhand clothes (OK Vintage…) as well as delicatessens. There are also the remains of the original food stalls selling fish and meat. There are interesting greengrocers with displays of Caribbean fresh foods and African dried fish which I have rarely dared to buy and when I have were total disasters. There are also one or two stalls selling those household goods that we used to buy in Woolworths when it was in the High Street. These really add the colour with their displays of plastic bowls and flowers.

Brixton Village is still evolving and by the warmer months is likely to be much busier and may then be self-sustaining. This will depend on the rents which are going up for those who remain open in the evening. Below we have tried to give some seasonal information to provide readers with an idea of what to expect now that the village is so popular. We welcome any comments that can help smooth people’s visit to this vibrant culinary destination.

Vital information

We have tried to make this blog informative but it is very difficult to keep up with two aspects of the restaurants in Brixton Village – opening times and licenses to sell alcohol.

Alcohol – About half the restaurants have a  license and those that don’t are happy to provide glasses. If you arrive without any alcohol then your two best bets are (i) go to Sainsbury’s local near the tube station for wine or (ii) go to one the off licenses on Coldharbour Lane for beer –  either should only take ten minutes. Alternatively they all sell interesting mixed juices and soft drinks – although some of the ginger beers are anything but soft.

Opening times – As a general rule most restaurants are open during the evening later in the week – Thursday onwards. Nearly all are open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday and a few open during the day on Monday and Tuesday but rarely in the evening. The websites are not that informative as things are moving swiftly so if you are making a long journey just to come here rather than any of the other great restaurants in Brixton then telephone beforehand.

Getting a seat – if you want to take pot luck and haven’t booked then choosing when to go is essential unless you are prepared to wait. There is a rush between 7.00pm and 8.15pm. We assume this is for those heading to the Ritzy. If you time your arrival before or after these times you will usually be in luck and get a seat really quickly. Don’t be put off by long queues such as at Honest Burger as they do turnover pretty quickly and most of the waiters will give you a pretty good idea of how long you will need to wait and often provide some seating. But if you are keen to try those restaurants that always seem to have a queue then just go for lunch at the time they open. If you want to try the best burger in London – and everyone should – then visit Honest Burger shortly after it opens (12.20) on Monday and it will be empty for at least 20 minutes after that. As a last resort some fo the restaurants also do takeaways of sandwiches and substantial wraps that you can take while you wander round.

What to wear – this is not the beginning of a fashion guide as this place is laid back and casual. But we want to remind people that it is cold outside and Brixton Village is like the outside despite the fact that it is under cover. The wind sweeps up the long corridors and most people keep their coats on when outside and if you intend to eat more comfortably then layers are essential.