Christmas in Brixton – shopping local

We have written in the past about how to shop locally at Christmas (see here and here). But Brixton has changed so much in recent years, so we thought we would give you an update. This is just a few ideas, as there are now so many great shops to choose from – although we would like Lidl back for their German biscuits and Stollen. It is the time to invest in a little something special, but of course it is also a hard time for many people. You can buy a child a toy by going to Kids Out (See here), or donate to the Brixton and Norwood Foodbank (link here) with money, or put items into their boxes in local supermarkets.

[STOP PRESS: Lidl Acre Lane now due to open after refit on 17th December.]

Where to get your Celebration Food

Champagne and Fromage – for cheese of every description – just a little something special for the festive season. – https://champagneplusfromage.co.uk/locations/brixton/

Turkey – there are lots of butchers in Brixton – for something special why not go to Jones the Butcher, 1 Dulwich Rd, London SE24 0NT – http://jonesthebutcher.wordpress.com/

Pudding – well you can go for some interesting ones in M&S, now that Lidl in Acre Lane is closed until January (or go to the one in Stockwell). [See STOP PRESS above.]

Vegetables – why not go for a box from En Root (see here) £25.00’s worth of surprises (although we will let you into a secret – there’s always a pineapple). There’s also Nour, of course.

Cake – indulgent in the L’Atelier Patisserie, providing chocolate logs (see here) as well as proper french patisserie in Market Row. We still haven’t found the best rum cake. so if anyone knows where to buy one please send us the recommendation.

Fruit – well, for tangerines/mandarins, custard apples and persimmons (my personal favourite), we recommend the My Village shop at the corner of Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road. They also have some small bananas, but they are quite expensive. Note that anywhere you buy mandarins, it’s buyer beware – sometimes they look good but taste awful. Even the same stall can’t be relied on every week.

Alcohol – well there are the little cans of made-up cocktails in M&S or you buy a bottle in The Wine Parlour (89 Brixton Village), or from Salon Wine Store. Our favourite recommendation is a bottle of Palo Cortado – a nutty dry, but dark, sherry – a great accompaniment to opening your Christmas stocking.

Where to get your Decorations

We have lost many of the shops selling decorations, but there is still the Brixton Party Shop in Brixton Village that sells paper plates, balloons and lots of other paper items you can use for Christmas. The Arts and Crafts shop upstairs at 387 Brixton Rd (over Kingshield Chemists) is great for coloured paper, so you can make your own paper chains. Please use it, as it’s an underused resource.

Tinsel is sold in all those hardware shops along Atlantic Road that sell large pans and colourful plastic bowls – just look up and it will be hanging there.

Red paper napkins from Tesco.

Tablecloth from Morleys, or a Table runner and napkins with silver reindeer.

From Poundshop there are the stick-on snowflakes – £1 for a set of 6. They are plastic, but ours have lasted for 5 years and are coming out again this year.

And some ideas for presents

Granville Arcade (Brixton Village)

If you want some really colourful fabric shopping bags (£5.00), or a dress or a headband, then go to African Queen Fabric shop in Third Avenue (aka little Africa).

The same alleyway has lots basketware for the table and for your laundry. Another shop there sells blue and white enamel plates and bowls that are often sold at a higher price in expensive kitchen shops.

For children’s books stop off in Roundtable Books (see link here) – only one customer at a time in the shop, but we are told they are very helpful.

Soap and Candles – always a good choice – then go to Cornercopia – Soap is only £2.00 so good for a Christmas stocking. Soap dishes can come from Artisan Stories (£12)

Of course there is the Jewelry shop (Rose and Thorne), the clothes (we can’t keep up as the open and close frequently) and the delicatessens (like Guzzl) selling everything you might want and consumables are definitely a plus this year.

Market Row:

I have always wondered if there was something I could buy from the Voodoo shop – but it would be ironic and I don’t have any friends who would understand the joke. There is also a shop on the corner of Electric Lane selling incense and smelly candles, which has a good range.

There are Toys, headbands again, hats, leather satchels and little gifts all along this Arcade. But you can also buy someone delicious food from the Salon Delicatessen.

Pop Brixton: There’s Japanese knives (with instructions) from Kataba Japanese Knifeshop ( see link here). Or some wine from the (mainly) New Zealand wine shop, Specialist Cellars – they do delivery (see link here).

Loved Again Limited is a secondhand shop 140 Stockwell Road SW9 9TQ for some beautiful secondhand vases or decorative objects or treat yourself to a turn of the century desk or dining chairs.

Top floor of Morleys sells Charbonnell and Walker chocolates at a 20% discount (I’ve hinted at the egg nog ones). Lower floors also sell make-up of course and the kitchen department has almost everything you might need to prepare a slap up Christmas dinner.

Quirky vintage and artisan or vintage clothes, and decorative pieces for the house can be found at 61 Acre Lane. Choose from an upcycled sari sun dress or shirt or a timeless set of cocktail glasses. See https://www.quirkydovetail.co.uk/

Franzina Trattoria – Delivery

Address: 395 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LQ

Deliveroo: https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/london/brixton/franzina-trattoria-brixton

Website: https://franzinatrattoria.com/

Given the current Covid restriction of Tier 2, we are still having takeaways and were really pleased that Franzina Trattoria in Coldharbour Lane had click and collect, and delivery options. Despite it being relatively close, we still ordered through Deliveroo (Uber Eats also available). See our earlier eat-in review here.

This is a Sicilian restaurant and the menu consists of Piattini (small plates – you can actually buy the sicilian plates on the website), salads, fresh made tagliatelle with sauces and doci – puds. The Delivery menu is a little different to the eat-in version, but had plenty of options. For starters we chose Crocche – fried vegetable balls and caponata Siciliana. The menu promised two crocche each of three types – “potato, lemon, mint and basil. Aubergine, caciocavallo cheese and mint. Zucchini, pecorino cheese and basil”. The Caponata Siciliana is described as sweet and sour aubergine salad with tomatoes, nocellara olives, capers, celery and onions.

We ended up with eight crocche but there were only two sorts and, to be honest, it wasn’t clear to us which ones. One was just a chip and the other was pretty anonymous. So, these were a little disappointing. But this was definitely a starter in two halves, as the Caponata was fabulous. We could have eaten this by the bucket full and will definitely order again. It really does need some bread and luckily we had some, but next time we will also order some proper Italian bread with this meal.

This was followed by two types of pasta – Conchiglie con Salsiccia (described as conchiglie with with wild fennel sausage in a peppery tomoato sauce with pecorino cheese). Google describes the pasta as seashells. We also ordered Orecchiette al Pesto Trapanese (with fresh datterino tomatoes, basil, mint, pistachios, almonds, chili and lemon zest, topped with salty ricotta cheese). This pasta is sort of like little ears.

The Orecchiette were crunchy and spicy and a warm chili and nutty delight. The Conchiglie was also wonderful with a peppery warmth. The pictures shows them as quite distinct and they arrived not too steamed, so not al dente which pleased me as I’m not keen on any pasta crunch. However, we did have a lot leftover and microwaved it the next day. It was still wonderful to taste, but unfortunately over-cooked and we actually had a hard job distinguishing them. So our advice for the best experience is to wolf it all down in one sitting.

Finally – again eyes bigger than stomach moment – we ordered one portion of Baba al Masala con Panna. It was sweet and sticky, and we were glad that we only ordered one. We could have done with more “panna” and a little bit more marsala. But there was no crumb left at the end of the meal.

What did we think – we liked much of it, but not all (mainly the vegetable balls). That may be our fault. The best traveled dishes were the cold ones, but the pasta certainly managed the distance from their kitchen to our door without moving too far beyound the ‘al dente’ stage.

We are now beginning to understand the science of delivered food. Chips are soggy, no matter how brief the trip from the restaurant, unless of course they are the thin, very crispy type. Many dishes that were taken out of the oven just in time, arrive just a little overdone. We will definitely order from Franzina again with a very large serving of Caponata. Cost of the meal for two (with enough pasta leftovers for a meal the following day, but no alcohol) was £42, including Deliveroo fees and a tip for the rider.

UPDATE: We are now reliably informed that microwaving pasta is not the best way of reheating it – on top of the stove and lightly fry or put it in the oven.

Kaosarn – takeaway

Address: Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane Brixton, London

Website: https://www.kaosarnlondon.co.uk/brixton-restaurant

Telephone: 020 7095 8922

This Thai restaurant is named after the bustling street in Bangkok and has attracted a lot of interest over the years, including a review by us back in 2011 (see here). How time flies.

Choose during lock-down from Deliveroo or UberEats and, although the menu is short, most of the dishes are not your usual standard Thai – although there is a green curry. There are not many vegetarian meals – fish, chicken or lamb seem to be in most dishes. The romantic names of each dish are explained, thankfully, in detail so you don’t need to guess. The meal was delivered promptly from the Brixton premises – watching the progress of the meal on the app is fun in itself.

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Kricket – the Lockdown 2.0 takeaway

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Website: https://kricket.co.uk/brixton/

Phone: 020 3826 4090

Email; hello@kricket.co.uk

Deliveroo: https://deliveroo.co.uk/brands/kricket

We reviewed Kricket when it was in Pop Brixton and when it moved to larger premises (reviews here and here). We liked both incarnations and decided that we should have a delivery to celebrate Diwali in our household bubble. As this is a celebration we pushed the boat out. Note that the delivery is via Deliveroo and comes from a kitchen in Clapham, rather than the Brixton restaurant in Atlantic Road.

The menu on Deliveroo is not as extensive as it was in the restaurant, but we know kulfi probably doesn’t travel. There are four starters and we ordered the Keralan chicken (2 portions – what were we thinking) and the Bhel Puri. For mains we ordered one for each member of the party – Welsh Lamb Korma, Hyderbadi Aubergine and Butternut Squash. We also added aubergine bharta, tarka dal, steamed rice, a couple of malabar parathas (we should have ordered more), and some condiments (sweet raita, mooli pickles, and tamarind and date). We supplemented the condiments with some of our own bought from Tooting when we went to buy sweets.

Clearly even at this point we knew we had over-ordered. But we know we can put the rest in the fridge for lunch the next day.

The Bhel Puri (crispy bits, raw mango, tamarind, yoghurt), was a favourite for all three of us. The crispy Keralan chicken is best eaten quickly as it dries out, but two portions was one and a half too many. Think KFC with more than a touch of salt and you have it. It was lovely which is good, because it is for Monday night’s tea.kricket13

The mains were fantastic in terms of the flavours. Often Indian takeaways seem to be one sauce with bits added but these were all distinct. The Butternut Squash comes with a makhani sauce, paneer, hazelnut, puffed wild rice. We would have liked a bit more butternut squash but the sauce was fragrant and silky smooth as it should be. The Hyderabadi Aubergine coconut, curry leaf, peanuts masala is soft and nutty. The warmth of this dish just increases with each mouthful, but never overwhelms. The Welsh Lamb Korma is so well cooked and so unlike many dry, chewy dishes we have eaten from other restaurants. We can recommend all three.kricket14

The sides we very important -we should have ordered more especially the parathas as they were just right for scooping up the sauces. The aubergine bharta was also a favourite – it comes with real heat but not the type of heat to make you sweat. All the condiments were interesting and we have some of the tamarind and date to go with tonight’s Keralan chicken.kricket12

img_38883We will definitely order again but perhaps not so much of the Keralan Chicken. This is an expensive meal if you are not planning to use it up for lunches – at £82.00 plus a tip. This was for three of us without the beer – Cobra and Kingfisher – bought from a local shop. We completed the blow-out with the Indian sweets from Tooting, as there is always space for a small dessert.

Indian Food for Diwali

Tonight is Diwali, the festival of light for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but we can all join in. So here’s a short round-up of the local south Asian restaurants that we’ve reviewed, where you can order food for delivery. Then just light some candles.

Bombay Kitchen – see review here.

Website: https://www.bombay-kitchen.co.uk/

En Root – see review here.

Website: https://www.enrootldn.co.uk/

Beb’s Kitchen – see review here.

Website: https://goo.gl/maps/oPTGNrnJayj

Khan’s of Brixton – see review here.

Website: http://www.khansbrixton.co.uk/

Kricket – see review here.

Website: https://kricket.co.uk/brixton/

Booma – see review here.

Website: http://booma-brixton.co.uk/

Salon – the Lockdown takeaway

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Address: 18 Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LDWebsite: http://salonbrixton.co.uk/

Phone: 020 7501 9152

Salon now offers a timed delivery service. We have reviewed this restaurant, which offers a tasting menu several times ( here and here and here) It is a past winner of our @eatinbrixton public vote for Brixton’s favourite, so we were really enthusiastic to try their takeaway service on the first Saturday in Lockdown 2.0.

There are a meat and vegetarian three course meals on offer, both for two to share. We chose the meat one. The starter and dessert need little preparation, but the main course needs cooking. But, very helpfully, everything was labelled and there was a handy set of instructions to guide you through the meal – it made sure that we could eat the starter without worrying about the oven.

First came a pork terrine, luxuriously covered in salty ham/bacon with an accompaniment of mustard mayonnaise and bitter leaves. The other starter was a beetroot salad, caraway crackers with goats curd. Both were great and we just shared. All come with warm bread, whipped butter and cheese custard. Yum…. and honestly this would have been enough food for the evening.salon22

Next course was hispi cabbage and braised venison pie with potato topping. There was plenty for two (in fact I had seconds the next day). The meat was soft and succulent and we served it with a hefty red wine to make it a real celebration.salon23

salon24Finally – and we did then move to a comfy sofa and the TV – we had the dessert and each one is enough for two. It was a coffee panna cotta (although actually more of a fluffy mouse) with a chocolate ganache top and some crumbs to sprinkle over it. This was also when the top trouser button was undone – fantastically delicious end to the meal.

This is a delivery that requires a table, candles and good wine – as good as a dinner out. It cost £59.00 for two and we thought it was excellent value. We have got into the habit of watching the 7.00 pm news during the week with our meal (lunchtime it is Bargain Hunt), but this as enjoyable as dining out and broke the spell. Great offering and we would certainly do it again.

Chishuru

Address: 9 Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LB

Telephone: 079 6000 2150

email: info@chisuru.com

Website: https://www.chishuru.com/

This is a new restaurant in Market Row serving West African food from Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare and the restaurant was opened following her victory in the amateur category at last year’s Brixton Kitchen competition. Even across Nigeria there are many different styles and traditional cuisines – add to that the whole of West Africa and you get lots of different types of seasoning and cooking methods. You can eat in the market corridor or inside with the doors are thrown open so wear a coat wherever you sit. Inside you can watch the preparation, outside it is people watching in the busy thoroughfare.

There is a blessedly short list on the menu with starters, main courses, sides and desserts – just a few in each category. We shared Ekuru as a starter – it’s native to the Yoruba. It is (I think) made of peeled black eyed beans and wild water melon seeds and the paste is then fried. It comes with pumpkin seed pesto and scotch bonnet sauce. This was a soft and crisp start to the meal with delicious pesto, so I hope you haven’t thrown out those pumpkin seeds.

Then came the main courses where we chose one meat, goat ayamase, which came with spiced green sauce and condiments, and one veggie dish – chargrilled cauliflower with peanut sauce and puffed wild rice (although they forgot this little extra when it was served to us). We were advised to order a side of attasi rice, green salad and plantain.

The goat was really soft and didn’t have too many bones to discover. It had a spiciness that crept up on you so that a softee like me only had a runny nose three quarters of the way through.

The cauliflower was well cooked and the spiced green sauce is what it said on the menu – spicy – and the peanut sauce added to the thrill. We didn’t need the puffed rice.

We were delighted with the side dishes. The Atassi rice and beans was really good for soaking up the sauce on both dishes and the plantain with peanut sauce was a perfect foil for the spice in both dishes.

We finished the meal with a dessert to share – peanut butter ice cream with baobab crisps. We immediately dived in so no photo. The salty creaminess of the ice cream went really well with the surprisingly citrus flavoured honeycomb crisps.

We washed it all down with two bottles of Lucky Saint beer and water. The bill for two was £63.00, but this included a tip and money for a food support scheme. They only opened in August and will be hard hit by the current lockdown. Let’s hope they will run a click and collect or delivery service.

Fishbowl – the posh takeway

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Address: 5 Atlantic Road, London, SW98HX

Phone: 020 3995 5299

Open: From 3:00 pm (Deliveroo)

Website (Deliveroo): https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/london/brixton/fishbowl-brixton

Instagram (Order by DM): #fishbowl_brixton

We recently reviewed this black owned restaurant (see here). We gave it favourable write-up and concluded that might even try the lobster for a special occasion. Well the special occasion arrived.

We ordered again through Deliveroo. We wanted to order the expensive menu, so we rang them direct, just in case they were going to run out – they advise to order relatively early, as they have a small kitchen and give their restaurant customers preference during the evening rush.

They have prawn, calamari or squid and chips on the relatively short menu, but we ordered the whole lobster boil bag (lobster, king prawns, shell prawns, crab, potatoes, blue swim crab and corn on the cob) at £60, plus some sweet potato fries. Continue reading

Nanban – delivered

Address: 426 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8LF

Telephone: 020 7346 0098

Websitehttp://www.nanban.co.uk/

Another Saturday night and nowhere to go, so we decided to watch Father of the Bride 3(ish) and order from one of our Brixton favourites (see here and here). It’s open for Click and Collect or Delivery  after 6.00pm. Don’t be in too much of a hurry, as we had finished the film and were onto a nostalgia piece – Father of the Bride 1 before it arrived.nanban31

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The Tapas Room Brixton

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Address: Unit 52/53, Brixton Village SW9 8PS

Opening times:

Tuesday to Thursday – 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Friday & Saturday – 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Sunday & Monday – closed

Website: https://www.thetapasroom.co.uk/

Email: info@tapasroom.co.uk

This new restaurant and wine bar in Brixton Village is at the back, along the alley with the African shops. It is a relation of the Donostia Social Club, which was a winner of the eatinbrixton public vote, when it was originally in Pop Brixton. It has now moved into multiple sites so clearly our public spotted the potential. Continue reading