Ultimate Caribbean Buffet

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 16 Acre Lane, Brixton, London SW2 5SG

020 3302 6390

Usually we do not review chains but this is so small – only a couple of outlets – that we decided to make an exception. We also wanted to cover different types and prices of meals. This is a green, white and black Jamaican restaurant which looks like a café with melamine tables and chairs. There is a bar on the left, with a limited selection of drinks, and a line of hot and cold dishes to the left. The line of dishes is important as this is a buffet. All you can eat within 90 minutes.

There is choice but it is hard to discern what each dish is as there is rarely a label and often dishes look alike. So this is a real voyage of discovery. We think there was jerk chicken (several varieties), fried chicken, curry goat, potentially lamb in a sauce, rice and peas, salads, plantain and callaloo (or could have been spinach). There are also some desserts – fruit and a pudding (we weren’t sure what it was).

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We had a bit of several of the dishes and the chicken was hot and spicy – the kind that has your lips tingling for several hours. The rice and peas were my favourite. The plantain my least as it looked really delicious but had only been caramelized and was hard at the centre. We went back a few times and all the food was hot (temperature) and they did keep refilling the containers when it looked too low so there was always enough to choose from.

For a Caribbean cheap fast meal for the very hungry this is a good outlet. We wouldn’t choose it for a night out. It costs £7.50 per person and you can choose a soft drink, water or alcohol and they allow BYO.

Orange Bay

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address: 30 Brixton Water Lane, Brixton, London SW2 1PE

telephone:  020 3417 0674

website: https://twitter.com/orangebaybrix

email: orangebaybrixton@gmail.com

This is a restaurant that has taken over from Brixton Space that closed some time ago – see link. This corner of Tulse Hill is getting a lot more attention with not one but two restaurants opening recently. Their next door neighbour, Naughty Piglets (see link), is getting a lot more attention. But this is a Jamaican/West Indian restaurant which describes itself as a sister company of Negril on Brixton Hill (see link) which is a long time favourite of ours. It concentrates on takeaway but also offers sit down meals. We have tried to go before but we couldn’t find their phone number and they say in one place that they have no booking service. Although all information on the web refers to opening times being from 6.oopm Tuesday to Sunday they weren’t open when we arrived at 7.10pm on a Tuesday. But we persisted and on a second try we were lucky.

The décor, much of which is carried over from Brixton Space, is 60s retro with metal chairs and a banquette with cushions and metal tables that wobble unless you spend some time propping them up with napkins. The service is assiduous and we were warned about the fire sauce.

We ordered the pumpkin curry, half a jerk chicken, rice and peas, rice and gunjo and coleslaw (both the last two came with the chicken) and a Carib and Red Stripe beer to wash it all down. They also provided tap water.

ob03The half a chicken was way too much – a quarter would be ample for a normal appetite. It comes with a variety of sauces, barbecue, jerk and “fire”in increasing levels of heat and they are not exaggerating about the fire. We were glad of the tap water.

ob04In contrast the pumpkin was mild and as tasty as pumpkin curry can be. But the favourite was the rice which has spices as well as peas and was really lovely to eat until the fire sauce anesthetised my palate.

This is a very friendly place to eat and we could have lingered for longer but thought we should get home for the next heat of Masterchef. The whole bill came to £32.60 which was good value as we left very full.

Mama’s Jerk at Market House

mamasjerk05Address: 443 Coldharbour Lane SW9 8LN

Telephone: 020 7095 9443

Information food: http://www.mamasjerkstation.com/

Information venue: http://www.market-house.co.uk/index.php/foodie/

Market House has a record of getting good and interesting food (see here for an earlier example) and we can say from the beginning that this is a winner, although we recommend that everyone should concentrate on their signature dish – the chicken.

Getting a table at Market House, especially on a Saturday night, can be a problem, so think ahead and book. Then when you arrive you need to work out that you have to order the food at the bar, especially if you arrive a bit early.

The menu consists of meat and one veggie option – with Jerk chicken, Jerk pork sausage, Jerk saltfish cakes. Depending on your option you get it in a wrap with salad, with sweet potato mash or jerk spiced fries, rice and peas, battered plantain and coleslaw. Most come with tropical mayo, BBQ sauce and/or Jerk sauce (very hot).

We ordered a chicken meal and the sausages. The chicken was fantastic, lots of depth of flavour but not overdoing the heat, as long as you didn’t try dipping in the pepper sauce. The sausages were also interesting but overdone.

The slaw  was great and very colourful, and the mash was spicy and warming. The plantain …. well what can you ever say about plantain – heavy but with the addition of the mayo or hot sauce was a sweet addition to the whole meal. The disappointment (apart from the sausages) was the rice and peas which didn’t taste fresh or really of very much – Brixton clientele are the most discerning of this staple, which is sold in all the Jerk chicken shops (see our run down of takeaway shops ). But we thought Mama Jerks chicken was a definite contender for the best of Brixton.

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Most dishes are £8.00 to £10.00 and the total bill came to £36.40. This included, thanks to the Market House’s extended happy hour, two £5 cocktails while we waited (an excellent caipirinha and an interesting electric boogaloo)  and two beers (Sagres) to drink with the meal.

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Butcher Shops in Brixton

Jones the Butcher,
Address: 1 Dulwich Rd, London SE24 0NT
020 7274 4629
http://jonesthebutcher.wordpress.com/
Opening Hours: Mon: 05:00 – 12:30; Tue: 05:00 – 12:30 Wed: 05:00 – 12:30 Thu: 05:00 – 13:00; Fri: 05:00 – 13:00; Sat: 09:00 – 13:00

Dombey & Son,
19 Market Row, Brixton, London, SW9 8LB
020 7274 1035
Opening Hours:: Tue: 07:30 – 17:30; Wed: 07:30 – 15:30; Thu: 07:30 – 17:30; Fri: 07:30 – 17:45; Sat: 06:30 – 17:45

Michael’s Meat Market
49 Atlantic Rd London SW9 8JL
020 7737 1069

There’s no shortage of places to buy meat in Brixton and we cannot claim to have tried them all. We are also not great meat eaters, at least when eating at home. Nevertheless, it’s time we had a look at butchers in our series of reports on Brixton food shops. The trouble is that while there are lots of shops selling meat, there are not that many I consider proper butchers. Also when you see a secondhand supermarket trolley full of carcasses being wheeled down Atlantic Road it does make you think of being a vegetarian. But there are places I have found that can be relied upon to provide value for money. Continue reading

Lambeth Country Show – a culinary cornucopia

The Lambeth Country Show is in its 40th year and is on this weekend, if you hadn’t noticed. We never miss it, even if we are in our wellies trying to traverse the acres of mud. This sunny year (with showers) we discovered the amusing vegetable sculptures (how do they come up with the ideas), homemade cakes, worthy tents about health and community groups you might join or support which are all the usual fodder. But this year we also found a wealth of food and drink tents to tempt us even though we thought we were feeling too hot to eat.

We passed by French and Grace and the Koi Ramen tents as we have already reviewed them and tried the Food Hall which had many cupcake stalls, a sprinkling of mango juices as well as sauces to add to anything to make a boring meal sparkle. Mango spicy sauces in various heat strengths, lime coriander and chilli sauce, and many others …. too many to recount here just visit them on the three stalls in this tent.

I stopped at a stall selling hot Caribbean food – Dreens – who have curry goat, jerk chicken and fried fish – all with sides (rice and peas, festival coleslaw), corn on the cob and fruit salad. I chose the meal deal – goat curry, rice and peas and coleslaw. A hearty amount too. The goat was really well cooked, still on the bone but very easy to eat with a flimsy, plastic fork. It was really well spiced and not so hot that there was no subtlety to the individual flavours which included fresh thyme. The meal deal was £7.00 reduced from the menu price of £7.50 and well worth it – we shared it between two people.

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Dreens also serve beetroot, carrot and ginger juice, or apple, celery and kale but I chose some freshly made mango juice – from Senegal – Ecopeace. It was thick and very sweet and more a pudding than a refreshing drink but you feel worthwhile providing the support to this group who we have seen before at LCS. It also cost £3.50 a cup so not for the short of change. lcs2

We are writing this post-haste so you can all get down tomorrow (Sunday) and try the delicious options. There are a lot of jerk chicken stalls reflecting our Lambeth culture and so any that are great please let us know – especially if they are to appear again in Brixton.

But also take a walk around the country show – do see the Big Stage and the camels in the arena but also stop and provide some support for the Lambeth Time to Change campaign which is working to reduce discrimination and the stigma of mental ill health.

Bockit’la

address: Brixton Station Road (a bit moveable but usually towards Brixton High Street)

telephone: 07889864375

http://www.bokitla.com/

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Bokit’la serves French Caribbean street food from Guadeloupe. They are not a restaurant but serve food from the market on Friday lunchtime (and other venues on Thursday and Saturday). You can sit usually as there are several covered areas in the street (needed in recent rainy periods).

What is a Bokit? It is a small round flat bread filled with of meat, fish or vegetables and the offer in Brixton was chicken, salt-fish and aubergine. All are topped with creole sauce, tomato, lettuce plus avocado but you can choose to have more (or less). You are also asked about the heat of the sauce – three levels but these are all relative.

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Etta’s Seafood Kitchen

Etta's Seafood KitchenAddress: Unit 46 Brixton, Village, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9

Contact:  sheryldon1@yahoo.co.uk

We have visited Etta’s several time now. We first visited when it had just opened and things were a bit chaotic, the second time was more orderly but the service was slow. Has time made a difference? The tables and chairs are the same (beware of some chairs as they are a bit rickety). But it is brighter and but the flowers on the tables have seen better days – in fact ours were completely dead. But the staff were as happy, helpful and as laid back as before but now they seem to know what they are doing.

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Jerk Chicken Takeaway

Jerk02Brixton and jerk chicken go together. Despite all the changes that are taking place in what’s available to eat in Brixton, it still has more places serving West Indian food that any other type. For almost all of them, the signature dish is jerk chicken. But which one serves the most authentic and the best?

Answering the question is bound to be controversial; everyone who is into jerk chicken has their favourite. So we decided that we had to try them all, or at least those that specialise in takeaways. There are, of course, a few proper sit down places that also serve jerk chicken – see, for example our reviews of: Bamboula; Fish, Wings and Tings; Negril; and Veranda – but in our mind it is more enjoyable as a takeaway. One of the eatinbrixton team has lunch in Brixton most days and, over the last couple of years, he has been enjoying himself giving all the jerk chicken joints in central Brixton a try.

This research led to a shortlist of six and then, to ensure an independent view of which was the best, we invited friends and family to a blind tasting. There were nine of us round the table, with ages ranging from 24 to 81, and, it worked surprisingly well, although pedants might argue that the amount of Red Stripe that was consumed will have affected the results as the evening wore on.

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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.

L’Express

Express01Address: 15-17 Market Row,  London SW9 8LB

Telephone number: 07448831937 text for bookings

email: johanna.anselmo@gmail.com

for up-to-date menu –  https://en-gb.facebook.com/lExpresscafe

You have passed by the Express Cafe in Market Row during the day and you may even have popped in for a bacon sandwich, a mug of Nescafe or one of the cheapest espressos in Brixton. But each evening from Thursday to  Saturday and Sunday (9.00 – 4.00pm) this basic cafe metamorphoses into a French Vegetarian restaurant “L’Express”. The interior is from another era with 1950s cream decor and a bit of half timbering. The tables and chairs from the formica 1960s and, rather startlingly, there is a ceiling fan reminiscent of a Magritte painting as it is stuck up against a wall so cannot turn – presumably a leftover from an early renovation. Lighting is muted with table and standard lamps, flowers adorn each formica top and the pictures are eclectic. An old gramophone and a fruit machine provide further colour although we were not sure either worked. The music when we visited was rock and roll but it depends, we thought, on who brought the CDs or whether their live musician turns up.

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