Brixton Station Road
Despite recent surveys that most workers in the U.K. fail to take a lunch break or have the same thing every day. We do take a break and would like others to do the same not only at the weekends. Ours is a low brow and cheap version with variety being the key. So we encourage everyone to try Station Road Brixton as it is now a lunch destination that changes daily. Different styles and countries sit side by side and there is always a choice, even on Monday. You can have a takeout or eat alfresco on the chairs and tables scattered around in the street. This Peruvian stall is a new addition to the food outlets and we tried it on Saturday after the gym.
The menu is simple – only two things, one veggie, one meat. Veggie was Quinoa stew and salad, the meat was chicken and rice. But the chefs thought the rice was “too strong” and they were not prepared to serve it. So, on this occasion, I had a mixture – chicken, quinoa and the salad. A large enough portion and plenty of reward for a couple of hours in the gym (well maybe it was only 45 minutes but I was counting every one).
Quinoa tends to divide our family, a bit like marmite. This version was served in a tomato sauce with extra potato and was more than palatable. I turned down the chilli sauce but that was probably a mistake – I’ll know next time. The salad was a mixture of beetroot, tomato, potato and red onion. So it was mainly sweet with an occasional bite of onion – not unpleasant and definitely a foil for the quinoa. The chicken was cooked on a griddle and covered with a subtle but tasty marinade. It was delicious and I would definitely order it again but perhaps without quinoa.
The best part is the cost – £5 for one of the usual combinations and because I had a mixture, it was a bargain at £6.
address: Brixton Pop, 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PQ
Telephone: 020 3808 5112
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.
We 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.
The 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.
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.
Despite 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.
address: 15-17 Market Row Brixton London SW9 8LB
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening a remarkable transformation takes place in the Express Café, the long lived greasy spoon in Market Row. The tables are the same – yellow formica with attached red plastic seats but now there are new pictures on the walls, covers over the counter and large posters advertising the Electric Dog. We visited on a Saturday when the night market was in full swing so reducing the squash in the Brixton restaurants. At 8.30pm there were lots of spaces inside Electric Dog although the alleyway tables were full.
We enjoyed all the food and our decision not to go with two Combos was justified as there was easily enough for two with the dogs and one fries. The buns were not too sweet and held together even with all the sauces which is a blessing – they do provide knives and forks but this is definitely hand held food. But the point of a hot dog is in the sausage and we were really impressed with the pork sausage and will return to try the beef. The sweet potato fries were excellent – very hot and crisp and they didn’t go soggy even until the last bite of the dog.
Although there is no alcohol there is a wine shop almost directly opposite this restaurant and there is a list of interesting soft drinks. I chose the cherry milkshake which was pink with cherry bits but not as strongly flavoured as I would have liked. It was also incredibly sweet but this is hardly a criticism just a description of my lack of a sweet tooth. They also have a list of Fentiman’s drinks including rose lemonade and my favourite Dandelion and Burdock and do provide tap water on request.
We have been criticised for not providing “reviews”. We set out to describe the meals we enjoyed and at first didn’t go to restaurants we didn’t like. But our critic clearly has not read all our posts particularly the one on Happy Dumpling. I mention this only to give context to the next sentence. This is a pop-up restaurant which has a limited life – JUST TWO MONTHS so we strongly recommend that you visit soon or potentially miss it altogether.
The meal for two cost £16.50 – in our view a bargain.
Brixton and jerk chicken go together. Despite all the changes that are taking place in what’s available to eat in Brixton, it still has more places serving West Indian food that any other type. For almost all of them, the signature dish is jerk chicken. But which one serves the most authentic and the best?
Answering the question is bound to be controversial; everyone who is into jerk chicken has their favourite. So we decided that we had to try them all, or at least those that specialise in takeaways. There are, of course, a few proper sit down places that also serve jerk chicken – see, for example our reviews of: Bamboula; Fish, Wings and Tings; Negril; and Veranda – but in our mind it is more enjoyable as a takeaway. One of the eatinbrixton team has lunch in Brixton most days and, over the last couple of years, he has been enjoying himself giving all the jerk chicken joints in central Brixton a try.
This research led to a shortlist of six and then, to ensure an independent view of which was the best, we invited friends and family to a blind tasting. There were nine of us round the table, with ages ranging from 24 to 81, and, it worked surprisingly well, although pedants might argue that the amount of Red Stripe that was consumed will have affected the results as the evening wore on.