Rosa’s Thai Cafe

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address: 36 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JW

telephone: 020 3393 8562

http://rosasthaicafe.com/brixton/

This is the ninth in the chain of Rosa’s Thai restaurants and the first to venture south of the river. This was a brave move as Brixton already has two good Thai restaurants, see Yum-D and Kaosarn, as well as others such as Satay Bar serving up decent Thai dishes, so this new one has strong competition. It is on Atlantic Road with a wide view of the street and small tables for two or booths for up to six. Continue reading

Tem Ban at The Lido Café

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Address: Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Road, SE24 0PA

Phone: 0207 737 8183/07969 534 218

Email: info@thelidocafe.co.uk

http://www.tembanthai.co.uk/

Pop-ups keep appearing, with many not living up to the hype, but this one sounded too interesting not to try.  A reported connection to trendy Smoking Goat made it a must try. The first thing we need to tell all our readers is to book, as on our visit every table was full. While the run of this pop-up has been extended, it’s only open in the evening on Thursdays and Fridays (and possibly Saturdays) until 5th March.

You can find a description of the normally daytime only Lido Café here. There was little change with the pop-up, although we did think it looked smarter with the fairy lights.  The menu, which is on the website, isn’t too taxing, although there are specials as well as the list. It comes as small or large plates. For small plates we chose the deep fried grey mullet & star fruit salad and the nam prik pao (Deep fried shredded pigs’ ears & puffed pig skin served with burnt sour red chilli sauce). Well who can resist a shredded pig’s ear. From the large plates we chose hang lae, (Chang Mai curry of pork belly, served with ginger & peanuts) which came with yellow sticky rice and a khao soi gai (free range chicken, curried noodles served with crispy noodles). We ordered a side of stir fried morning glory with oyster mushrooms and yellow beans.

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We were a bit disappointed with the pig’s ear, as some of the crispy skin was pretty chewy, but the mullet and salad was fantastic. For the mains we thought both dishes were intricate and delicately flavoured (although I did need a tissue for the runny nose). We could have done without the side dish which was disappointing and didn’t stand up to the flavours in the other dishes, although was a bit of a relaxation from the chilli.

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We ended the meal with a dessert of sticky coconut rice and mango. We were warned we could share and that would definitely be our advice. It is a large heap of carbohydrate and the sweetest mango with coconut milk sauce  – delicious but if you want to stay in the same waist size, don’t order two.

We turned down cocktails (e.g. Watermelon Bellini and Tamarind Whiskey Sour) in favour of a glass of Salantino red wine and glasses of tap water (after failing dry January one of us is attempting Free-from-February). Service was fine and, while a bit slow, this suited us as we were looking for a relaxing  occasion. The only problem was that the dishes came from the kitchen in no particular order and so dinner for two meant one person watching while the other ate. They probably need more help in the kitchen, so that dishes come out in twos and threes and not one at a time. Pop-ups are inevitably work in progress and we are sure things will improve with practice.

The whole meal cost £56.05 including service but if you want to try this pop-up you’ll need to move fast.

 

Lunch at the Satay Bar

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447 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LP

Telephone: 0844 474 6080

http://www.sataybar.co.uk/

I’m the member of the eatinbrixton team that works and lives in Brixton. For nigh on 25 years I’ve broken up my working day, two or three times a week, by having lunch out in the town centre. Originally the decision was straightforward. The places I liked were the original pizza place pre-Franco Manca, Gyoza, or Ichiban Sushi and, in various guises, there was the Satay Bar.

Now, of course, we are almost overwhelmed with good choices. From the favourites, Gyoza has just closed; Ichiban opens rarely for lunch and, while Franco Manca goes from strength to strength, I now find the calorie count too high except for an occasional treat. But the Satay Bar is still there and, despite the competition, it has now definitely become my favourite lunch spot. The food is seriously good; it’s comfortable with reasonable Wi-Fi to keep up with work. It is also great value for money.

I’m just writing about lunch at the Satay Bar. Evenings when it becomes a serious nightspot are totally different. Not bad, just different – see our report on their cocktails here. There’s a special lunchtime menu with all the south-east Asian favourites – see it here. My top choice is the Laksa, a spicy coconut and noodle based soup, offering a large bowl of tangy broth containing the right amount of heat (two chilli symbol on the menu).sg06

I would happily have the laksa on each visit but I’m pleased to report that the Thai Beef Salad, (again two chillies) is also excellent. Another highly rated dish is the Chicken version of the Sambal Jawa, which is an Indonesian stir fry with coconut, coriander, lemon grass, vegetables, sambal ulek and other spices.sg07

My only disappointment is Big Belly Phad Thai that I found a bit claggy. Maybe I hit a bad day but there are other places in Brixton where Phad Thai addicts can  do better.sg10

So I can strongly recommend the Satay Bar as the top choice for a good value lunch. I tend to drink tap water so the bill comes in at less than £10 for a substantial meal. Another notable distinction is the clientele. At lunchtime, but even more at night, the majority of the other customers have been black. I have often seen comments pointing out how white the diners are in most of the eating places in Brixton Village but the opposite is the case here. There is nothing about the food that explains the sharp difference in clientele – except the fact that they are discerning about good quality food.

Wing Tai Supermarket

Wing_Tai0413 Electric Avenue

SW9 8JY

Tel:  020 7738 5898

This is the second in our reviews where we have set ourselves the task of buying all the ingredients (or at least the majority) for a meal from one local shop. We lay out the prices, what they have and hopefully promote buying from local shops in Brixton. This time the dish is Pad Thai and the place to go for all the ingredients is the Wing Tai supermarket in Electric Avenue. Pad Thai is one of those dishes where everyone has their favourite recipe – I’ve used the one on the BBC food website http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/padthai_67953 I’m not an expert but the end result is reasonably similar to the sort of thing I got at cheap local restaurants years ago when in Thailand.

Continue reading

YUM-D

YUM-D

14d Market Row

Brixton

SW9

YUM-D calls itself a Thai deli and cafe and, for my money, is now serving the best Thai food in Brixton. Positioned next to Rosie’s cafe in Market Row it’s in the space that was briefly Good Bench Coffee House. It’s an intimate space but it looks and feels authentic, with the emphasis on the food and the flavours. It also sells a few Thai foodstuffs including some spicy prawn crackers and, rather randomly, t-shirts and hats that I presume come from Thailand. I feel that this review should have been done a few visits back but as Kaosarn is lauded as the best Thai in South London we felt that a few visits could only justify the fact that we believe YUM-D is both more interesting and enjoyable than the former.

On my first visit I had the special, Soo-Ki-Ya-Ki, which is glass noodles with vegetables in a spicy sauce with a choice of chicken, beef, prawns and tofu. The spicy sauce is really a soup and is apparently made from chilli sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, a few hot chilli, lime juice and chopped fresh coriander. There was even more chilli if required but it was hot and tasty enough for me without. I chose the prawn version and was rewarded by a good portion. I returned a couple a days letter and checked out the pad Thai just to make sure the place was as good as my first impressions had suggested and the answer was, yes, it was. We also tried the chicken satay and the green Thai curry with coconut rice. The curry was creamy, spicy and tangy, everything a Thai curry should be. After spending some time in Thailand myself I am always trying to find the same quality of green curries thatI enjoyed during my visit and I think I may have struck gold. It is also excellent value for money, particularly given the quality of the food and the good size of the portions.

The menu includes all the Thai standards as well as starters and the interesting additions of Thai salads. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is cosy. Meal came to about £20 for two of us with one starter, two mains and tea, great value considering the quality of the food. Tables were available at lunch time, not sure about the evenings but please head down here if the queues at Kaosarn are ridiculously long and you want a traditional and delicious Thai meal.

Kaosarn

KaosarnAddress: Granville Arcade (Brixton Village), Coldharbour Lane Brixton, London

Telephone: 020 7095 8922

This is a new Thai restaurant named after the bustling street in Bangkok and it has made a name for itself in Brixton Village with reviews by Jay Rayner in the  Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/01/jay-rayner-restaurant-review-kaosan) and Time Out (http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2:30398/kaosarn).  This is a tiny family run restaurant and with all this attention is full every evening and mostly during the day so book well in advance.  When we say tiny we really mean – only a few tables inside supplemented by five to seven outside. With autumn soon making it chilly these outside tables are likely to be difficult to fill unless they come with a blanket and hot water bottle.

The menu is short and cheap (about £15.00 per person for a full meal) with most main dishes costing less than £8. They serve all the usual Thai specialities – curries, salads and pastries filled with varieties of prawn or minced meat. There are not many vegetarian meals but the staff are willing to cook some up on request with tofu and vegetables. We used this restaurant before the Observer review. It is good but it isn’t great  – the Phad Thai was tasty with all the different flavours and with chunky prawns and a good blast of lime.  It is unlicensed so bring your own alcohol – remember this in advance as the options for buying it near to the restaurant are not that varied unless you just want beer. We would return there – if only we could get a table.

Under £20.00 for dinner and the portions are good so probably much less if you are not too greedy.

Satay Gallery

Satay GalleryAddress 447 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LP

Telephone: 0844 474 6080

http://www.sataybar.co.uk/

You do not go to the Satay Gallery for a quite dinner for two. The pounding music deters conversation and if you do try then you end up with a sore throat by the next day. What you do go to the Satay Gallery for is the cocktails with something to keep you from being too drunk. The food isn’t expensive but it isn’t that good either.

The menu is eclectic… the web site say Brixton meets Bali but it also has chinese noodles, japanese gyoza and thai fishcakes. This is not expensive although the portions are not that generous but who cares after a couple of cosmopolitans and a mai tai.

The interior is dark in the evening with the clientele either just drinking in the bar area or drinking and eating frugally in the restaurant area. They have built some further spill-out for the summer on ColdharbourLane which looks fun for hanging out.  But if you are hungry cross the road to Gyoza.