Express Cafe/Lobstar pop-up

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15-17 Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LB
Telephone:
– Express Cafe 020 7978 8515
– Lobstar Pop-up 079 5843 8441
Opening times:
Express Cafe:
Monday – Saturday 7am–5pm (Wednesday early closing 3pm)
Sunday – Closed
Lobstar pop-up – only until the end of November:
Thursday – Saturday 7pm-11.30pm
Lobstar is a short run pop-up at the premises of the Express Cafe in Market Row. The Express Cafe is a greasy spoon, one of the few left in Brixton, that only opens during the day. So it occasionally rents itself out to pop-ups in the evening. We’ve been a couple of times, for vegan food – see here and for hotdogs – see here , and now, for three days a week in November, there’s a limited menu of lobsters and seafood.

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Hook

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address: Brixton Pop, 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PQ

Telephone: 020 3808 5112

email: cairene@hookrestaurants.com

website: http://www.hookrestaurants.com/

A damp and cold Friday sees us wondering if we really want to go out to eat. But there was a place getting a bit of a buzz and we wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Hook is a fish and chip shop in Brixton Pop offering sustainable everything (even the knives and forks) and a menu which includes Afro-Caribbean, Cajun and French influences. The cosmopolitan air was reinforced on our visit as it was provided by an all Italian team.

Small but perfectly formed on the top floor of Brixton Pop, this restaurant can sit about 16 inside and an outside area for when it gets a bit warmer. The menu is written on the wall and consists of about five fried fish dishes covered in panko (Japanese style breadcrumbs) or tempura batter. Cajun spiced or jerk are options as well as a more restrained basil and lemon.

hook04We chose the Jerk Hake and the lemon and basil tempura seabream. Both came with what was described as seaweed salted twice cooked chips and we ordered a couple of sides  (minty peas and celeriac slaw). You can interpret this as our wish to serve our followers or just that we’re greedy. We were worried that the jerk spice would overwhelm the fish but it didn’t – the flavour was there but jerk enthusiasts might even say it was  a bit bland. The accompanying chipotle sauce did came with a kick, however, as well as being very smoky, and was a great for the chips.

hook03The basil and lemon batter was very subtle but the batter was good and not too oily. The truffle sauce was also subtle but that’s what this good white fish needed. Fish can be overcooked so quickly but  both mains were just right. The chips – you could see the relationship to a potato which we both loved but we were not sure why they mentioned seaweed salt. The sides – we really liked  but didn’t finish them nor our portions of chips so beware over-ordering.hook02

So did it live up to the hype … yes. We liked it a lot. Not a place for a long relaxing dinner but it was very pleasant and the food different enough for us to think we would return quite soon. They also do takeaways and Deliveroo if it gets too wet and windy.

hook05Despite the long list of drinks they didn’t have much of a range in stock. We had a bottle of water and a bottle of And Union Unfiltered Lager. The total cost – £36.50 was pricey for fish and chips but we thought for the quality it was worth it.

The Chip Shop

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address: 378 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF  (on the corner with Atlantic Road)

tel: 07894 353561

email: info@chipshopbxtn.co.uk

website: http://www.chipshopbxtn.com/#!home/c9l

Opening hours:

Tuesday to Thursday: 11:30pm – 3pm / 6pm – 11:30pm

​Friday to Sunday: 10am to 11:30pm

​Monday CLOSED

I suspect our readers have made New Year Resolutions about increased physical activity, weight reduction and are perhaps even partaking in Dry January. But there is no chance of fulfilling any resolutions if you go to Chip Shop this month.

This new restaurant opened in the first week of November and is already pulling in the punters. It was opened by the people who own The Brixton Village Grill in Brixton Village. They sell…. wait for it … fish and chips but this is not the usual takeaway (although you can take it away if you want to). It labels itself as a hip hop chip shop and we can vouch for the steady stream of music which definitely does not stay in the background. Small and perfectly formed tables of two, three or four allow for reasonable conversation.

The menu has the usual cod and haddock but then it also has sea bass, monkfish, lobster and specials like swordfish. We chose a starter between the two of us – scallops with chorizo on a bed of samphire, which was easily enough for two.The scallops were cooked as they should be and the samphire wasn’t  woody but still had a good crunch.

To follow we had a special – swordfish – and the fishcake. Most of the mains, although not the fishcake,  come with two of the following: rice, chips and salad. We watched the monkfish and chorizo for other diners come by on skewers hung upside down and a really large lobster but our meal proved to be more than a match for the “show”.

The swordfish, which is a meaty fish anyway, was also enough for two, especially with the salad and chips plus some beans we had ordered as a side.cs05

The salmon and haddock fishcake was of the same size and it doesn’t come with chips, although it really needs an accompaniment to make it interesting. Perhaps it would be better as a lunch dish and, anyway, it now seems to have disappeared from the menu..cs04

We fitted in a shared dessert of pannetone bread and butter pudding. This was not up to the standard of the other parts of the meal as it was a hefty slab – no lightness that you would have expected from the pannetone. Clearly it was chilled and then heated and perhaps they need to consider another option. If you ate this for lunch you would be asleep all afternoon. The cheesecake or the sticky toffee pudding might have been better choices.

cs02We washed it all down with tap water and a Sangres beer. The total bill for two was £42.65, before adding a tip and we thought this was value for money. We had really good food, the service was attentive and we came out really full. We ate at 8.00pm but by 9.00pm it was very full, so choose your time carefully. We will be back, with the £20 whole grilled lobster a likely target.