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.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen – Pop Brixton

To find: Unit 36 Pop Brixton 49 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8PQ

telephone: 07931602889

email: ghanakitchen@gmail.com

http://zoesghanakitchen.co.uk/category/events/

We had heard good things about this restaurant, even before they had a permanent residence, but when we booked a pop-up “event” they cancelled. So this visit is long awaited. And while we can’t claim to be experts on Ghanaian food, a couple of us have been there and we also liked the food at Brixton’s longer-established more traditional Ghanaian restaurant – see our review here.

This restaurant is well signposted as part of Pop Brixton. This is a collection of large storage containers offering food, drink and the occasional piece of jewellery or clothing. ZGK is on the upper level and can only be approached from the set of stairs on the right immediately after the entrance.

There is a small interior with tables and benches for 12 people who know each other very well. There is also an outside area but the rain has made that only for the really hardy. The menu has mains, sides, sauces and desserts so easy peasy. Although the restaurant is Ghanaian it didn’t have any of the usual staples like banku or kenkey on offer. This is more like tapas, with the carbohydrate coming from the plantain, okra and jollof rice. For the mains there is chicken, beef, mackerel and lamb. But the menu is a bit limited for vegetarians who have to settle for the sole bean dish.

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We started with krispy kale which wasn’t very crispy and was a bit oily. This is an easy dish to prepare and cook and we thought it must have wilted in the humidity of the kitchen. Then we tried to work our way through the whole menu with every dish except the beef. We also ordered Okra tempura fries,  Kelewele Spiced Chips (Caramelised chunky plantain chips infused w/ a spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and fresh ginger) and Jollof rice. We liked everything and the spiced mackerel was a really hefty dish filling the whole plate and was spicy. The well cooked and spicy lamb was a favourite of the person who ordered it, even though he doesn’t really like peanut butter. The beans were declared a hit as was the chicken. The chicken was eaten with a very spicy hot Smoked Fish based Chilli Oil Dip. This was lovely but our choice of flavours slightly odd.

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Then we come to the side dishes. Okra was covered in good batter but was a bit oily (on the outside) and the plantain chips were really good if a bit flabby. I assume to get them really crisp they need to be covered in some form of flour. Jollof rice was certainly something we would order again.

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For dessert we ordered the doughnut and the Banofee pie. The Banofee pie was the star. The doughnuts were a bit on the heavy side.

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They do serve alcohol and we ordered two light and two dark lagers which – be warned – come in huge bottles. I say this because not only is it a lot of liquid and toilets are a scarce resource but they also take up a lot of space on the table. We suggest sharing and using a cup then you increase the table space.

The lovely surprise at the end of the meal was the bill – £60.00 for four people including four large beers – a bargain.

Donostia Social Club – Pop Brixton

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To find: Pop Brixton 49 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8PQ

telephone: 079 6184 4464

email: donostiasc@yahoo.co.uk

http://www.donostiasocialclub.co.uk/Pop_Brixton.html

We had heard good things about this restaurant/tapas bar and after an early show at the Ritzy on Saturday we went along for a snack. We certainly were not disappointed by the food, the ambience or the really helpful staff. At the outset we want to say this is a gem and you should visit.

As you may aimlessly wander around Pop Brixton we thought we would give explicit directions. Pop Brixton is a collection of large storage containers offering food, drink and the occasional piece of jewellery or clothing. Donostia Social Club is on the upper level and can only be approached from the set of stairs on the right immediately after the entrance.

Donostia is the Basque name for San Sebastian, a town with more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is also famous for Pintxos – large sized tapa and this restaurant provides small and larger ones to tempt the palate and soak up the heavy reds or cool sherries. The bar where we sat offers a sanctuary in busy Pop Brixton. You can contemplate the menu and chat to the waiters. It is long and thin. Even when busy there may be seats at the kitchen end. You can also sit outside or at high tables inside. This is definitely built for the summer and any cooler months which makes it stand out from the crowd.

dsc02The menu has snacks. The usual ones to go with a drink (olives, dried broad beans, large salted almonds etc.) and then they have plates of cheese and/or meat and one of our long-term favourites – pan con tomate. We chose a plate of meat and the almonds with the pan con tomate before we were tempted by the tapas menu.

The main part of the menu is divided into meat, fish and vegetables and each is a tapas sized portion. We chose duck, piquillo peppers and a daily special, truffled mushrooms. We failed to take a picture of the menu and it does change, so do not rely on the online version.

Everything was wonderful and we have lots to compare it with as we are frequent visitors to Spain. The meat consisted of three “sausages” – chorizo, salchichon and catalan fuet (a thinner more meaty and less fat type of salami). It came with bread and olives. We really need to point out the olives – large manzanilla green ones, small lemony ones, meaty black ones with lemon pieces. We have never had a mixture so good and we often complain that many of the Brixton restaurants fail on this very small item.

But onto the other dishes. The pan con tomate was certainly up to our high standards. It all depends on the quality of the tomatoes and the olive oil and they had it just right.

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The mushrooms come on pieces of bread too and were perfectly seasoned although being greedy we wanted a bit more truffle. But there were two other stars of this show (apart from the olives). First the piquillo peppers which are stuffed with  smokey aubergine and picos blue cheese and surrounded by tomato sauce. Although this didn’t come with bread we had lots to wipe up every inch of sauce and the peppers were sweet and salty with a hint of the smokiness – heaven.

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The duck was the other star. When we cut into it we thought it might be a bit tough but that was the fault of the knives. It was again seasoned well and came with a vegetable puree (see picture).dsc07

There was a chocolate desert but we were too full to even contemplate it.

We washed the whole lot down with a glass of ice cold Fino and three glasses of very acceptable Ribero del Douro. Surprisingly the whole lot came to £51.70 before service. This we thought was value for money. Interesting food, a pleasant ambience and a really slick operation. All the drinks and dishes came at the right intervals and there was none of the chaos that we have seen in other restaurants in Brixton. We hope they continue to flourish in the highly competitive pop-up scene in Brixton