Last Days of Pisco – Edible Experiences – It was only temporary

11 Rushcroft Road, London SW2 1JS

http://www.edibleexperiences.com

This is a different kind of review as it is a pop-up restaurant that was only available for the day. But we decided to review it as it may reappear later and you can also keep your eye out for new themed pop-ups (see later).  Brixton now has a rich selection of restaurants but what it doesn’t have is one providing Peruvian food. This pop-up filled that gap even if for only a day. Last Days of Pisco is a travelling Pisco bar and cervicheria

The pop-up appeared in Cafe Sitifis, a small café just off Coldharbour Lane on a Saturday night (which has sadly now closed). This pop-up appeared at 6.30 pm for cocktails and at 8.00pm the food began. Of course with the “Last Days of Pisco” there were cocktails of Pisco  – including the traditional Pisco Sour. We were stick-in-the-muds and only went for traditional  – our cocktail (not as strong or long as I remember them from Lima) was a little frothy (the egg white) and with a balance of the sugar and lemon or maybe it was lime (who could tell after the first one…..).

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Bellantoni’s – Now closed

address: Unit 81, Brixton Village Market, SW9

telephone: 078 7294 5675

For information see http://www.bellantonis.co.uk/Welcome.html

After a Christmas break the chef proprietor Dario Bellantoni has returned.  Easy to detect how the name of this Italian restaurant came about. But it is difficult to understand where some of the additional comments below their name come from but more in a minute. It is spread across two sides of an alleyway in Brixton Village with one side an open kitchen and a few tables and on the other a small dining room – in between the windswept alleyway with tables which is where we ended up – only daring to remove our gloves to eat. But in the summer — you guessed it — we ended up in the dining room as all the other tables were full. The dining room was empty for most of our meal which meant we could easily talk above the din of the busy Sunday lunch crowd.

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Cafe Sitifis – NOW CLOSED

11 Rushcroft Road, London SW2 1JS

We’ve been running this blog for less than a year and we’ve already covered almost 50 places where it’s worth eating out in Brixton. That’s 50 places just a short walk from where we live and I also work. There can’t be many places that offer such a rich diversity of food, most of it good and at reasonable prices. And that’s not counting the places we haven’t managed to get too yet. For example, we have yet to cover all the pubs that offer reasonable meals. (fn1)

But there is a drawback to all this richness. Sometimes it is simply difficult to keep up, which means that some places get missed out, even though they are excellent. So I was concerned when I read on the Urban 75 Brixton forum that Cafe Sitifis is “is struggling to stay open”. (see the thread here http://www.urban75.net/forums/threads/cafe-sitifis-review-rushcroft-road-great-for-kids.269737/) I’ve already been a couple of times and it’s great but I never got round to writing a post. I have to admit that I’m not as good at writing up reviews as other members of the team. So I’ve just been again, just to check it still delivers, and I’m pleased to report that it’s as good as ever.

Cafe Sitifis is named after a town in Algeria which is where the owner comes from. So the food is North African. What it offers is straight-forward – a range of meze served with flat bread and a choice of cakes. And coffee or tea to drink. Within that there’s a wide choice of dishes but, because it’s such good value, I’ve always had the Chef’s Special, which is simply a bit of everything crammed onto a plate.

I actually lose count of what’s on the plate but it’s uniformly excellent. But this time I had the vegetarian version which included hummus, olives, couscous, tomato and cucumber salad, aubergine salad, marinated peppers, dolmades, tzatziki, lentil salad and so on. It comes with a dressing that’s just asking to be mopped up with the bread. This latest time I had the mint tea but I’ve also had the coffee, which are both great. This all costs £7.45 but there are cheaper dishes with, in effect, your choice of meze out of what’s on offer. The fresh cakes and middle-eastern pastries all look good as well.

So this is a strong recommendation if you want a light meal at lunchtime or maybe just a coffee and a pastry during the day. However, it’s not open in the evening. It’s got a welcoming atmosphere and, more practically, wifi.

fn1. The coverage excludes the Brixton branches of chains, which we don’t cover as a matter of policy, and a handful of other places that we know from bitter experience simply aren’t worth including. But please let us have your recommendations if you think there is somewhere else in Brixton we should cover.

London French Dip – Market Stall – No longer attends the market

With absolutely no idea what a French Dip consisted of, but hearing plenty of buzz about it on Twitter we headed down to the Station Road Saturday market yesterday to find out for ourselves. The stall was about half way down the road; just by Hive Bar and had a couple of chairs dotted around the stall meaning you can enjoy your sandwich in the buzzy atmosphere of the market.

Apparently originating from restaurants in Los Angeles, a French Dip consists of a roast beef sandwich with the bread dipped in gravy or jus. Served alongside a gherkin this is pretty simple, but incredibly delicious. The beef was thinly cut, with just the right amount of fat and perfectly cooked – meaning there is no tug of war with the beef in your sandwich when you bite into it. The gherkin on the side was very appreciated, especially when I made the mistake of putting far too much mustard on my sandwich, causing my nose to feel like it might explode. Tip: less is more!  However I do think they may have creating a new French Dip enthusiast!

Another plus was that all the ingredients appear to be local with M Moens and Son in Clapham providing the beef and Kindred Bakery in Herne Hill providing the baguettes, which had a lovely shiny glaze to them. I was informed that the next one will be on the 19th May so would really recommend making a visit to the stall that weekend.

Congrats London French Dip we think you make a brilliant addition to the interesting and diverse foods available in Brixton!

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.

Speedy Noodle – NOW CLOSED

address:506 Brixton Rd,  Brixton, SW9 7AW

telephone number 020 7326 4888

We had thought we would not have to review Speedy Noodle as we thought it didn’t qualify under our no chains rule – but it isn’t one. This Chinese style restaurant has been in Brixton long before it was transformed into a foodie destination. But it is a restaurant and although we considered changing the rules to exclude it we tonight (Saturday) decided to make another visit. This is a restaurant which is easy to book (there isn’t any). If you want to go out to the Ritzy and then you don’t have to saunter in the cold or hang about in a queues  just go to Speedy Noodle and you can cut it very close and even see the trailers. It is also opens much later than most restaurants so you can have a starter and main before the film and dessert on the way home too.

It lives up to its name – we were in and out in 20 minutes. The longest time was spent in choosing from the long list of Chinese, Malaysian and Thai items. On another occasion we tried the Thai Green curry which is passable and cheap. This time it was Singapore Vermicelli and a Malaysian Chicken curry. The Singapore noodles looked good with appropriate ingredients but wasn’t as spicy as it could be – but it was a bargain. That was the best bit of our meal. The curry was ….well was.. It had few ingredients – chicken and onions  – but tasted less like  curry and more like chicken in gravy. Despite hunger half was left on the plate.

They have a license and sell beer and wine (by the glass and the bottle) but we washed all down with a pot of green tea. It was cheap – £10.20 for two.

There are nearly 100 items on the menu so we could go back and try more and I am tempted to discover what a fried ice ball is or test the spicy calamari . But I think those culinary delicacies can wait for another decade. If I want cheap and fast food we’ll go to Gyoza down Coldharbour Lane unless we are starving at midnight.

Hive bar and restaurant – NOW CLOSED

This place is now closed

address: 11-13 Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PA

telephone:  020 7274 8383

email gm@hivebar.net

website    http://www.hivebar.net/

This is a small restaurant near the recreation centre which has been a long term fixture in Brixton in various guises. Its current incarnation is as a bar upstairs (not visited) and a restaurant on the ground floor. The restaurant is cosy, although  the position of the table leg requires three or four people to negotiate how to sit in relative comfort. We didn’t book on this Thursday night but we arrived relatively early – just after 7.00 – and within half an hour it was full and many people popping their head round the door who had to find sustenance elsewhere.

The food is simple.. There is a menu and almost as many things on the specials list on the wall. There are also a variety of different ways of eating – tapas, “boards to share” as well as the usual starters and main course. Being traditional we went for main courses and chose a burger, beef pie and greens and crispy pork belly and extra chips with a starter of mixed olives. The olives were not a great start which is a great shame as there is a Portuguese delicatessen just round the corner that provides some of the best olives in London.

Our main course were much better. The piping hot beef pie came with a spoon as well as a knife and fork. The beef was soft and the gravy unctuous and the spoon was definitely required. The pork was as described – tasty and crispy and the chips were flavoured slightly with garlic and even though we didn’t need them we were glad we did. The only problems were the burger which was described as a bit boring (probably in comparison to Honest Burger). No-one asked how to cook it but it seemed ok and not too overdone. The greens were just that different kinds of cabbage. The problem with that is although steamed some parts need more cooking than others so the darker cabbage was a little chewy.

It was £15.00 per person inclduing wine and beer and so very reasonable for the quality of the food. You can eat much cheaper as at the beginning of the wek they have specials. The cheap dates section (e.g. 4 tapas and a bottle of wine for £10.00) all seem very good value. The bar has music nights but we didn’t explore that. We thought we would visit again especially as the weather will certain deter us from sitting in Brixton Village and then we do intend to order the cocktails.