SW9 bar and restaurant

sw9_01Address, 11 Dorrell Place, Brixton SW9 8EG

telephone: 020 7738 3116

Opening times:

Monday – Friday: 10:30am to 11:30pm

Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 am to 1:30 am

This is not to be confused with the sushi bar on Brixton Road, which is from the same stable. This is the restaurant and bar behind M&S, at the end of the alley way just off Brixton Road. It has been here for years (we even went in an earlier incarnation, when it was the Brixtonian) and has evolved into a bar with food. See a previous review from more than five years ago, here. Happy hour (when we visited) has cheap cocktails but they still serve food to slow down feeling tipsy.

Decor is bar style with more low level seating and a few chairs that allow eating easily at the tables which are round and square and scattered. So choose a sofa or a table for the more substantial meals. Most people were drinking with snacks but we opted for the standard menu as the special board was unavailable on Monday.

So after ordering a margarita and a vodka martini, we had fried squid with chili sauce and steak and chips with grilled tomatoes. Both come with a bit of salad, so you can feel a little bit healthy. The squid was crisp and appropriately starter sized. sw9_03

The steak came on a wooden board making it even higher on the table, so the low seating was definitely not a good choice. But it was suitably “medium”, as requested, and had great seasoning. The tomatoes were also well cooked, so they were sweet, tart and easy to eat. Just as well, as it you have to juggle to keep everything on the board. The potatoes in the chips had the skins on them and were a bit soggy, perhaps because they came in a metal dish. sw9_02

After two vodka martinis and a margarita (£5.00 each at happy hour) we had a bill of £35.50. Our view – well the menu was limited but we enjoyed the food and drink. It is not a place for a quiet drink but it is open on Mondays, which is a bonus for us.sw9_04

 

Fancy Funkin Chicken

ffc01441 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8LN, UK

020 7733 0108

Instagram @fancyfunkinchicken

http://www.fancyfunkinchicken.com/

This new place, only opening in September, describes itself as a late-night chicken shop, serving a southern American spin on fried chicken, along with a dedicated cocktail menu. It will also host a range of DJs every weekend but this probably means in the evening. On Sunday lunchtime we just enjoyed listening to the background music, which was mostly classic soul.

For old Brixton hands this is, of course, the premises occupied by the much-missed Phoenix Café, a classic ‘greasy spoon’ of long-standing, before it moved further down the street and then vanished. It was always rather poky and, even following a total reconstruction from the foundations up, it’s still on the small side. There are some cosy four seater booths on one side, opposite the bar, but most of the seating is on stools at high bar tables. It’s also a little on the dark side, which I suppose gives it some atmosphere.

I’m not sure what constitutes south American fried chicken and the food on offer is pretty Brixton generic – i.e. much like stuff you can now get at many other places in Brixton. There are the inevitable chicken burgers; crispy fried chicken wings of course, with a choice of sauce varying only in how spicy hot they are; and, somewhat randomly, waffles. If this place is going to succeed it needs to stand out by the quality of the food, rather the uniqueness of what’s on offer. One plus is that the meat comes from ‘free range happy chickens’, although quite how they know the chickens were happy is unclear.

There were three of us and the dedicated vegetarian had the Jackson burger – described on the menu as a ‘veggie patty, roast beetroot, sweet potato, black bean and wild rice with a blend of herbs and spices’ served in a sesame seed bun with cheese, lettuce, onion and mayo. This received a definite thumbs up, marking an improvement on the usual tasteless beanburger. The bun also maintained the structural integrity of the dish

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I had the chicken wings with the middle-ranking sauce, described as “having a little kick”, which was quite hot enough. The wings were oddly small but properly crispy, despite being served smothered in the sauce. I chose the smaller serving size, supposedly six, although there were more.

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The third choice was boneless chicken pieces (chicken nuggets in other words), served deep fried in breadcrumbs with a “secret spice mix” and BBQ sauce. The sauce was given a positive review, with a deep savoury smoky taste, although the chicken itself wasn’t really as interesting as it should have been.

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ffc05For sides we had a portion of fries, a dish of coleslaw and waffles. The fries were fine, if not outstanding; the coleslaw was as we like it; and the waffles were a bit odd, mainly because we were expecting savoury potato waffles, but were served ones made with flour and served with a sweet sauce. The portion size of the sides cannot be described as generous but, in the event, we had plenty to eat.

The service was attentive and appropriate action was taken when there was a delay due to a problem with the waffle machine, i.e. we were given our drinks (passionfruit juice, ginger beer and a coke) for free. We passed on a pudding (a limited choice), as well as cocktails, (a good choice). Altogether, without the drinks, the bill came to £30.50 before adding a tip.There’s been a suggestion that Brixton is becoming a giant food court and this places fits into that model. It’s going to have to work hard to develop its own identity as a food destination, or else it’s going to end up as just another place to have a drink and socialise.

The Rum Kitchen

The Rum Kitchen

443-445 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LN

Mon – Fri: 4pm – Late
Sat & Sun: 11am – Late

In the flurry of openings in Brixton this summer lands the next location for The Rum Kitchen, this time on Coldharbour lane. With sites already in Notting Hill and Carnaby Street, it describes itself as a “Caribbean eatery that bends the rules”. Now when it comes to Caribbean restaurants coming to Brixton there has been some controversy. Turtle Bay was marred with condemnation of its cultural appropriation when it opened last year, with its “RASTAFYME” photo booth and criticism over the restaurant chains unfair tipping service, so there would always be caution in another chain opening. However, it seems there was no need.

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Shrub and Shutter

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address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8QH

telephone: 020 7326 0643

info@shrubandshutter.co.uk

http://theshrubandshutter.com/

We have visited Shrub and Shutter a few times now but on this occasion booked a table for 7.00pm on election night to sit and hope that the polls were wrong. They were but at least we were suitably lubricated to face the 10.00pm news. We sat at the back of the bar/restaurant on the last week of their current menu so all may have changed.

Drinks as usual were amazing and we thought they should have tags to ensure some unwitting vegetarian didn’t end up with chicken skin or prawns in their drink. We chose the Wonka bar – essentially a Baileys but nicer – which had gin, ice cream, almond milk, chocolate soil, truffle gold and truffle bitters. it was sweet and I saved some for dessert.

My partner in crime chose an amazing cocktail which came with a plastic tube of scotch bonnet pepper sauce to add to the drink. We were warned of how hot it was however we were far too sensationalist when it came to our pain threshold and squeezed in the lot. So be warned and try it slowly, except for those who like a Vindaloo.

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We ate from the two courses for £18.00 menu and had a glass of wine. They had a Primitivo from Italy and a Spanish white – Verdejo. We both chose duck with gingerbread and shared some asparagus. The duck was amazing, we just wished there was more of it! The asparagus was fantastic with a creamy sauce, which we had to stop ourselves from licking off the plate. Then we chose cod with barley and broccoli and the lamb with carrots.  The cod was a large meaty fillet and was cooked just right. I haven’t had barley before but it tasted bouncy and the sauce gave it a bit of a lift. The young green veg was just enough to make you feel it was contributing to your 5 of the day but only just. The lamb and the Primitivo complimented each other perfectly.

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This place is still pretty pricey, with it all coming to £67 (we got 10% knocked off for living in Brixton) but in terms of the standard of food and drinks this isn’t just another overpriced place in Brixton but one you feel deserves the price tag.

The Beast of Brixton

UpstairsAddress: 89B Acre Lane, entrance on Branksome Road, SW2 5TN

Telephone: 020 7733 8855

email: hello@thebeastofbrixton.com

http://www.thebeastofbrixton.co.uk/

 

 

Although the restaurant overlooks Acre Lane the door is in Branksome Road and even with these instructions it can be missed. There is a doorbell just round the corner of Acre Lane and a discreet notice. Gone is loved Upstairs and to replace it we have a bar with food with the unlikely and unlovely name of the Beast of Brixton. The first noticeable change is the speakeasy-imagelooking door on Branksome Road is now open if you push it. Up the stairs you find the same two small rooms one with a bar and the other an extension with seating for about 20 people. The interior is different with only the long beige couches left on either floor from the previous owners. The walls are now covered with colours and on each floor there is a feature wall of silver or flock skulls. As I said an unlovely name and unlovely walls.

This is really a bar with snacks which are small or large plates. The bar has a few drinks options – cocktails, wine and beer – but limited doesn’t mean uninteresting. The cocktails are cheap by Brixton standards and so are the other drinks and they sell it in the right quantities, i.e. 125ml glasses of wine are available here.

Each week they are now going to have a pop-up chef. We missed the Japanese street food and were there on the first night of El Marinero. Pop-ups seem to be all street food that can be prepared in the very small kitchen on the top floor so they will probably be chefs used to a van at a street market. Again the choice is limited – about 6 small and 5 large plates. Plates is a misnomer as they are served in a cardboard box. As El Marinero implies this week it is Spanish fish dishes like whitebait, scallops and chorizo and squid. Large plates are served with spinach salad (well more of a garnish) and rice.

BoB02We chose scallops and chorizo and the squid with a small plate of fried chillies. The chillies are not for the faint-hearted. The first bite is sweet and warm but that is before you get to the seeds which are fantastically hot. In fact the menu did warn that it was hot but as we left we noticed they had changed it to “very hot”. They came with a sweet tomato sauce and a lemony mayonnaise. The squid was cooked perfectly with enough flaked salt and pepper to make it interesting. The scallops were also cooked well, soft but not slimy.BoB06BoB05

The chef came out and gave us an extra dish – whitebait – which was to the same high standard.

 

BoB01We drank a Verdita (coriander, vodka and green chilli) which was a shock at first but very interesting and not too much like an alcopop, a rum, sorrel and spiced hibiscus (which was too sweet) and a glass of white wine. The whole lot came to £30.00. So for a fast food and cocktail restaurant this is reasonable value. But this is not fine dining but the food was good and the menu will change each week so there will always be something new to try.

Shrub and Shutter

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address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8QH

telephone: 020 7326 0643

info@shrubandshutter.co.uk

http://theshrubandshutter.com/

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. Continue reading

Unit 16

Unit16

address: Unit 16 Market Row Brixton

This is a small pop-up in Market Row just next to Salon. We have passed it several times and it has always been full or filling up but on this Friday night it was empty when we arrived and they were “just setting up”. This was a bit of a surprise as it was after 7.00pm and they were clearly missing the first wave of people eating before going off to the Ritzy. They also told us that they had no food except bar snacks – so we left to get something to line our stomachs. On our return through the market we popped in again. This time there were a few others – now about 8.00pm – we were still worried that this place would not survive.

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