A short bus ride away – Trinity Restaurant

address: 4 The Polygon Clapham, London SW4 0JG

telephone: 020 7622 1199

http://www.trinityrestaurant.co.uk/

I booked this restaurant for a Sunday evening as a treat with my daughter. I hadn’t realised it had one Michelin star and so definitely up-market for the area. But we didn’t feel under dressed, which may be a plus or a negative. I like to go to posh restaurants in posh clothes, as there is not much opportunity for dressing up these days, but most other diners here were in relaxed garb like they did this every day. Upstairs it is more casual dining but it is closed on Sunday, so we ate downstairs with its cool walls and big windows.  It doesn’t feel overlooked though as it is tucked away in the back of the Polygon near Clapham Common. The bucket seats are comfy and unlike many other restaurants, it is possible to have a quiet conversation. Continue reading

Blue Jay at Cornercopia

65 Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour lane,London, SW9 8PS

Twitter  @bluejaybrixton

Instagram  bluejaybrixton

email bluejaybrixton@gmail.com

http://brixtoncornercopia.co.uk/

Open:

Thursday to Sunday evenings – 6.00pm to 10.00 pm

Saturday & Sunday brunch – 11.00 am to 3.00 pm

Cornercopia hosts various pop-up restaurateurs. Currently it is Blue Jay and they have not yet decided when this particular arrangement will end. Cornercopia is described in a number of previous posts (see here, here, here and here), so this time we will concentrate on the food.

This is an easy restaurant menu – three starters, three mains, one dessert and a cheese option. When we visited in July (and they plan to change them monthly) the starters were chicken BLT, mackerel with pickled gooseberries and samphire) and a veggie option. We chose the mackerel between us and it was really interesting and (as we were not starving) plenty for the two of us. Saying it was interesting might suggest that we couldn’t decide whether we liked it or not but we definitely did and would have happily had a larger portion for a main.bj04

The same themes are also in the list of main – fish (sea bass, barley couscous tabouleh and braised fennel),  meat (chilli rubbed braised pork shoulder, runner beans, shallot and hazelnut) and a veggie option (salt baked jersey royals, grilled courgette and sheep’s cheese). We chose the fish and the pork.

The fish came whole on a plate not really big enough for dissection. They use the same enamel bowls they sell in their shop. I was given a separate dish to put the bones in but it still meant being very careful, warily chewing every bit slowly – probably good for the digestion but not for the enjoyment of the dish. The tabouleh/couscous was very good and a shame it wasn’t part of the veggie dish. The fennel was soft enough but gave a bit of texture too.bj06

The roast pork was not too much to frighten off diners worrying about their waistline and while the sauce was tasty and the hazelnuts provided some texture, the flavours were muted and the runner beans were undercooked.

bj05

The only offer of dessert was a peach with some “crumb” type thing so we stopped there and visited the Lab-G gelateria for pudding.

We drank two glasses of rosé and a beer. The meal was tasty and interesting, but it came to a staggering £55.00 with service. Each of the mains was £12.00 and the starters began at £7.50. We are not averse to spending hard cash (they only take cash) for good quality food but we thought this was overpriced.

Champagne and Fromage

Address: 15 First Avenue, Brixton Village

http://www.frenchbubbles.co.uk/

CF01Yesterday your plucky researchers from EatinBrixton ran the gauntlet of the demonstration against Champagne and Fromage to be its very first customers. The demonstrators were asking for Yuppie’s to leave Brixton but we felt quite justified in moving on as we failed at the first letter – Y and we definitely think we are not now upwardly-mobile but stuck in a groove. The self-styled anarchist group were protesting about the opening as a “signifier” of the changes taking place in Brixton. But as long-term Brixton residents we can see that even without the new eating places, there are actually more shops open and thriving in Granville Arcade than in the not so distant past, when it was half-empty and moribund. Some of the shopkeepers are happy with the changes, including the guy who runs the Faiz foodstore. He told us that his trade was up, even though he gave up the two units opposite his main foodstore, where Champagne and Fromage has moved in.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Upstairs

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

Telephone: 020 7733 8855

http://www.upstairslondon.com/web/index.html

We are realising the need to update our posts and so will be repeating the old information and changing our views (if we think they are different from before). For this restaurant we are only heaping more praise so read on.

Finding and getting in to Upstairs is a feat in itself. 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. After ringing, the door mysteriously opens and you enter a two up two down house – although in fact it is three floors. The first floor now contains a much reduced bar area where you might stop for an aperitif next to the fire or continue “upstairs” to the main dining  room –  minute but not seemingly crowded. The bar area has now been converted to include more tables presumably because of its popularity and consistent quality.

Who would believe that such a secretive restaurant would be so good and so consistent. Although the secret is out and we definitely can’t now appear without a booking. This is an Anglo-French restaurant with a good but blessedly short menu of fish, meat and vegetarian courses. All are wonderful. On a previous occasion I couldn’t make up my mind so we had the tasting menu.  Never a bum note in the list. Lots of interest and changes not too drastic between courses. On our most recent visit we chose the a la carte menu and again were pleased with everything. Small soups with intense flavours and things made of beetroot stick in my mind. We went with a discerning wine drinker and the wine was good and not expensive. The cocktails too are interesting and fizzy wine very palatable.

Everything on the menu changes by the season so there is always something of interest. This is not cheap eating establishment but is a place for celebration or a quiet dinner for two or four. Conversation is easy to make and the service is very good and not at all intrusive but at the same time informative. For people who have had the cocktails trying to remember what we ordered was a little tough so a reminder at each course was really welcomed.

You definitely should book as it is only open for dinner and not then on every night. When we went on a Thursday it was relatively clear as the tables in the downstairs room seemed to be empty. So probably a late booking would be fine. You can book direct or through toptable.

Brick Box

address: Brixton Village, Brixton SW9 8PS

telephone: 020 727-4221

email: hello@thebrickbox.co.uk

http://www.thebrickbox.co.uk/brixton.html

Brick Box, in the heart of Brixton Village, describes itself with some hyperbole as a place for art, love and magic. We were not totally convinced; however, it does serve food, so of course we had to review it. With the usual wooden tables and mismatched chairs, it squeezes in tables at angles in the small internal space and outside in the alleyway so it has much seating. It is extremely popular so at 6.45 on a Friday the outside tables were full and we were lucky to even get an inside table. This was in comparison to other restaurants which were relatively empty at that time. One explanation fir this might be the happy hour which starts at 5pm.

The venue says it provides for a number of events including screenings, live art (?) and theatre which will be a bit of a coup given the size of the place. Most events seem actually to happen in their Tooting site although the walls are covered with art.

This community arts group have partnered with Senzala in Brixton to provide the food- a  range of sweet and savoury crepes and galettes – and of course a fully licensed bar which seemed to be attracting the most custom. We ordered a Caprinha and a lemon daiquiri to get us into the spirit  and, sorry but they were both a bit of a disappointment. They were more like alcopops rather than cocktails so we wished we had chosen the wine.

The menu comes in two section – the savoury and the sweet crepes. There is some allergy advice on the menu and you can get a wheat, gluten, lactose and egg free gallette which is what we chose. We ordered the Senzala and the Caramelised goat. These were very similar – rocket and cheese (gorgonzola or goat’s cheese), caramelised red onions and mixed herbs with the addition of sun dried tomatoes in the Senzala. They were plump and the gallette was thin and crispy but stuck together enough to allow you to get all the bits into your mouth at the same time. We enjoyed them but we want to point out that if you highlight the caramelised red onions on the menu then they do need to be caramelised and not just a bit sweet and limp.

Service was fast for ordering and helpful  – pointing out that we should try the homemade chili sauce as we would never have noticed it in the sugar container. A little of it went a long way – but it does add spice to the cheesy mix. We were surprised at how much better the galettes were on this occasion from a previous visit when we had the Spaniard which was a bit limp with too little filling. We didn’t repeat the choice so we can’t verify a change in this one.

We didn’t have a sweet crepe but they looked more variable with mixtures of the following ingredients – bananas, nuts, Belgian chocolate (white, milk or dark), rum, coconut, nutella and maple syrup. We just went to Lab G for an ice cream – two pancakes in the same meal definitely seemed one too many.

Our bill was £21.00 for two including the drinks and they do provide tap water on the table. Wine is about £15.00 and cocktails around £6.00

We might go back next time for a cup of tea and a sweet pancake which would make a change from the cupcake offerings in most of the other tea shops in Brixton Village.

Upstairs

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

Telephone: 020 7733 8855

http://www.upstairslondon.com/web/index.html

Finding and getting in to Upstairs is a feat in itself. 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. After ringing, the door mysteriously opens and you enter a two up two down house – although in fact it is three floors. The first floor is a bar area where you might stop for an aperitif next to the fire or continue “upstairs” to the main dining  room –  minute but not seemingly crowded.

Who would believe that such a secretive restaurant would be so good. Although the secret is out and we definitely can’t now appear without a booking. This is an Anglo-French restaurant with a good but blessedly short menu of fish, meat and vegetarian courses. All are wonderful and last time I couldn’t make up my mind so we had the tasting menu.  Never a bum note in the list. Lots of interest and changes not too drastic between courses. Wine is good and not expensive.

Everything on the menu changes by the season so there is always something of interest. This is not cheap eating establishment but is a place for celebration or a quiet dinner for two or four. Conversation is easy to make and the service good and not at all intrusive.

You definitely need to book as it is only open for dinner and not then on every night. You can book direct or through toptable.