Bellefields

address: 9 Stockwell Avenue, Brixton, SW9 9SY
Tel: 020 7846 8540
bookings@bellefields.com

website: https://www.bellefields.com/

The website description is of a “family run restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine”, which allows latitude in what they serve as there are Italian, Greek, Spanish and recipe mixtures across of cuisines (like taramasalata and padron peppers). Bellefields is part of The Department Store, which provides work and meeting spaces in the heart of Brixton. The onsite restaurant is a new addition that opened this summer. There is a courtyard – more for the hardy as autumn casts its gloom and inside there’s a bar, booths and separate tables. Art is in abundance and eclectic. I am not sure I am very keen on eating while facing a Mexican day of the dead picture, but of course you can arrange to have your back to it. This is a place for coffee, lunch or dinner – we chose the evening when it was pretty empty at 8.00 pm.

The menu is a mixture of snacks (be warned small portions), small plates, mains and dessert. We chose the taramasalata and padron peppers while we considered our drinks (see later). It comes as just what it says on the menu – scooping out the pink cream on a padron pepper is a little tough so we advise ordering some bread (maybe the menu should suggest that).

Next we headed straight to mains and you can choose from an array of pasta or roast something and veg. The pasta can be served as a small plate or large. There is a choice for veggies, but not that much of a choice. There’s also a bunch of specials that looked interesting but we stuck to their standards. We don’t buy meat at home, so I splurged on the most expensive thing on the menu – steak frites and my companion on Spaghetti alla Chitarra Cacio e pepe (this is egg pasta with a square cross section, accompanied by cheese and pepper – very trendy I believe). The “steak frites” is exactly that – a steak with some roast tomatoes and chips (they offer sauces – I had ketchup). I didn’t finish the steak as it wasn’t rested enough so was a little tough. The chips were great.

The pasta was delicious as they had got the creamy sauce and pepper just right; so the plate was left clean. We chose a salad as an accompanyment.

Desserts were thin on the ground and the one we chose to share was off the menu, so we ordered an arancini of rice pudding (sold individually) and a small piece of baklava – just a sweet mouthful each. We enjoyed them both but the rice pudding could have been a bit richer – think tinned ambrosia rich which would have been great.

You are handed the drinks menu first and it has is a long list of cocktails and a list of gin and tonics for every taste. We chose one like a dirty martini (a Spanish Gun with lemon, olive and rosemary) and one described as the Italian riviera (Tuscan gin with lemon and basil), both of course with lots of ice and tonic. There are lots of wines by the bottle and the glass too. We liked the gin – they were drinks to linger over.

Overall we liked the place and the meal, although it turned out to be very expensive. A large portion of the expense was the G&Ts (£24.00). The food came to about £50 including a service charge. We will go again and eat pasta and drink red wine, unless we are celebrating.

Jamaica Patties

Healthy Eaters, 17 Electric Avenue, SW9 8JP, http://www.healthyeaters.co.uk/#food

First Choice Bakeries, 40 Atlantic Road, SW9 8JW, http://firstchoicebakers.co.uk/

New Tings, 112 Acre Ln, SW2 5RA, https://www.instagram.com/new_tings_restaurant/?hl=en

We had been given a celebration Jeroboam of champagne (3 litres), so needed to share it with friends. For accompanying snacks we went for that Brixton staple, Jamaica Patties. So an ideal opportunity to carry out a comparison for our faithful readers. At least that was the idea, but even with 14 of us there’s a limit to how many patties will get eaten. It turned out that 60 from three of Brixton’s top suppliers was too many and we ended up having patties for lunch and supper for the best part of a week.

We were interested in the best baker, rather than the best individual flavour. On the recommendation of our local expert (born in Jamaica. lived most of her life in Brixton), we went for First Choice Bakeries (Atlantic Road) and Healthy Eaters (Electric Avenue). Other shops sell patties of course, but mostly they buy them from the same bakeries, rather than making their own. But for interest we added in New Tings, in Acre Lane. When asked they were not forthcoming about their suppliers, although they do look similar to those from Health Eaters.

Patties come in many different flavours but the widest range was from First Choice – see the picture which gives a good idea of the options that are generally available. To aid the comparison we got beef and veg’ flavours from all three options, plus saltfish from a couple (New Tings didn’t have any, or had just run out). Then we added Callaloo from Healthy Eaters, lamb and cheesy beef from New Tings, and jerk chicken from First Choice. Note that some versions are said to be vegan, but best to check.

A Jamaica patty gains it’s distinctive yellow colour from the addition of turmeric and curry power to the pastry, although in practice it is difficult to taste the curry powder. The First Choice options are a bit smaller, which when you are faced with 60 of them, might be an advantage.

A Jamaica Patty success is all based on the pastry. The filling is important, but views differ, particularly for vegetarians. So our tasters were asked to score the pastry and the flavour separately, plus an overall rating. There was a general feeling that the fillings lacked punch. This was particularly the case with the jerk chicken variety. All testers found this disappointing, but we did not take into account the effect of the alcohol.

We do not want to go further than our data allows and we have to own up that it was insufficient for a definitive verdict as the results were pretty close. My own view is that the flakier the pastry, the better they are, which ought to give Healthy Eaters a head start as the flakiest. But, our community of raters gave First Choice a clear lead for its pastry and a slightly higher overall score. The patties from New Tings got the least favourable reception, but this was mainly due to a low score for the pastry, as they did well on flavour. But our experimental design and small sample doesn’t exclude the possibility of confounding variables (pandemic clearly taught us something) – but we can say that if you buy patties late in the day the pastry tends to dry out.

So what’s our advice. The only sensible conclusion is that if you want a Jamaica patty from Brixton you need to try them all, because tastes vary. But just judging by the size of the queue, you might as well start with First Choice.

DF Tacos

Address: 20 Atlantic Road

telephone: 020 3763 6357
email: BRIXTON@DFTACOS.CO.UK

https://dftacos.co.uk/brixton for opening times

This is a four location Taco shop. DF standing for Distrito Federale (Mexico City) for the locals and the Brixton branch is very large. Decor – think fast food meets the day of the dead – including our skull lighting. This was, of course, a branch of Wahaca, which we reviewed here. It’s under the same ownership and in practice it’s not much more than a change of name, with perhaps an emphasis on fast food. We went at lunchtime and there was plenty of space.

So what is on offer – lots and lots more than Nachos and Tacos. So choose taco fillings in a bun or a burrito and not forgetting a Margarita. The list is too long to repeat but remember the sizes of each dish (we didn’t……)

We chose Guacamole to share just in case the rest took too long to deliver – it doesn’t – it is really fast food so only order what you think you might like to try and then add more as you go along. Then it was a tussle – I ordered the Ancho mushroom Tacos (oven roasted mushrooms, habanero and pumpkin seed mayo and Feta cheese). My partner chose a Chicken burrito (Chilli rubbed chicken. Sour cream. Habanero & pumpkin seed salsa and House pickles) and for some unknown reason we also ordered fries.

So what did we think? Masses amount of food arrived. The Guacamole was very lemony and I assume that it was required to prevent the avocado browning. It was not unpleasant, just a surprise.

The mushroom tacos were lovely and savoury. The tacos were crisp, but, as usual with tacos, you need to eat swiftly to stop them going soggy. I had two pretty large ones so perhaps think about sharing as the sogginess increased on the second one. The habanero added flavour, but not heat, with the feta added just enough saltiness to the mushroom which were not at all waterlogged – oven roasting solves that. This dish is well worth a try.

The chicken burrito was certainly meaty, packed in with well-cooked flavoursome rice and salad. Served fresh the wrap was soft – still at the pre-cardboard stage. The fries were crinkly but turned out to be just too much starch at the end of the meal – so do not make the same mistake; just take along more companions to hoover up the remainder – a group of teenage boys would be just the right.

We washed the whole meal down with tap water and a passion fruit agua fresca. The bill was £28.96 which for the amount and quality of the food was really money well spent. This is not a Mexican which has hefty amounts of chili, sort of Mexican-for-softies. The flavours are subtle and so make this food much more available to individuals across the age span – take your kids and your granny. We will return – as hungry as possible – and will take friends so we can try some of the other offerings. We might even get to the ice cream sandwiches.

Sushi Revolution

Address: 240 Ferndale Road, SW9 8FR

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

We arrived at this restaurant on the day it opened – wearing masks and very early. It is pretty bare, some tables, counters with high chairs and a bar. We were mistakenly given a large table for the three of us, as speech in our face masks was clearly difficult to discern. We remained there for the whole meal as the alternative was to sit in a line at a counter, which is very awkward, even if very Japanese.

The menu description is “taking on Japanese classics with a rebellious twist”. I assume they mean Padron peppers with a yuzu miso, or miso soup with truffle oil. Plenty to try and we did our best to sample as much as possible. There are gluten free and vegan options.

The choice is snacks and nibbles, Sushi, Nigiri and Sashimi, “Revolution” – think panko popcorn shrimp, Salads, various Maki, and if you really can’t decide, then choose one of the four sharing plates. We have given a description, but can’t really describe the taste of each – they are right about innovation and we will return, less hungry, to savour all the different flavours.

We had Yellowtail Nikkei Sashimi with yuzu truffle oil, Karaage Roll chicken with avocado, yuzu koshu mayo – Crispy Drago tempura prawn with avocado, spicy mayo, teriyaki, and sesame. Don’t ask us to choose each one was a delight.

Then there was the Aubergine Nigiri (yummy!) and California Uramaki prawn, with cucumber, avocado, miso aioli, and tobiko (flying fish roe, small and perfectly formed but not as much of a zing).

For dessert we had a Mango Passion Fruit Mochi and a Coconut Mochi – we preferred the Mango one but both were delicious.

We washed it all down with a couple of bottles of Asahi beer, Blushing Bride Session APA, and a couple of glasses of Inzolia Borgo Selene, Sicilian white wine (no picture)

Choosing to browse the menu rather than eating the shared plate does increase the cost which was …… £91.14 including 12.5% service for three people and all our drinks. The most expensive sharing plate with 28 pieces was really enough for three and cost £35.00, but you can get away with £15 per person for an interesting plate that is probably sufficient for the less greedy. Our view is to return and we will sit at the counter if there are only two of us but if there are more than two and you are not prepared for the Wimbledon head turning experience then specifically ask for a table.

Snacks in lockdown – a guide

My work team have introduced lots of interesting activities each week to take the place of those informal contacts we used to have with each other. Some are competitive like the best character made out of a toilet roll, but some are just good fun. They contributed to the Hot Cross Buns review and now we are contributing to “snacks”. These mostly come in plastic packaging and increase our girth. They are the things we eat while on zoom with the microphone and video turned off to help us with those really boring interludes when we are staring at an excel sheet and there is no colleague around who offers to make a cup of tea. We rated them on “Texture (1 = rubbish, 10 = perfect), Flavour (1 = horrible, 10 = perfect) and Quantity (1 = nowhere near enough, 10 = perfect) – always try to be scientific about these things but we didn’t make everyone eat everything…… but here goes.

Sweet

Nakd Cocoa Orange was clearly a hot favourite with a 10 on flavour but some disagreement aobut whether it was enough and whether they had the texture quite right and we wanted more of it! The Oreos were defiitely enough – you always get more than one but were a bit down on flavour and texture. I suppose we should have drilled down a bit more to discover how they were eaten – halved and licked, with music (a la Heston) or the custard cream method which just means biting them whole. Cadbury Darkmilk Giant Buttons got high scores on tecture and flavour but although they were very creamy and indulgent, there were quite a lot for a quick snack. Nakd Bakewell great on flavour but down a bit on quantity and texture (we really need a control comparison with a Mr Kipling). Last in this group is the old fashioned Curly Wurly. These used to be a long lasting sweet but were judged as much too small these days although the flavour was perfect and the texture just a little down on a top score.

Savoury

First in the savouries and gettig top marks for flavour and texture was the Nature Valley Sweet n Salty Peanut bar. This though was judged the worst for the quantity but maybe a good thing based on the number of calories. Pickled Onion Monster Munch – a children’s favourite – was certainly enough in terms of quantity even if it fell down on the texture and flavour. Several treats were gluten free but these ones were picked out of the mix – RW Garcia Lentil with Turmeric crackers. They scored very highly on all three ratings but are pricey. Kettle’s Salt and Pepper Crisps were high on flavour and texture but lower on quantity – those bags have plenty of air in them.

Finally a new kid on the block is the M&S Marmite butter featured in the top photo. This is a brilliant innovation in the field of snacks. It is efficient requiring just a single knife for both Marmite and butter so reduces washing up. It also prevents the yellow flecks in the Marmite, for those of us trying to save the planet one washed knife at a time. Banished is the problem of the Marmite pooling on the toast as it slides over the butter. Thank you M&S – Marmite butter and toast is the EatinBrixton favourite. My team were less enthusiastic but I am hoping to convert them but that means that M&S need to keep supplying it.

In the meantime I drew plucky North Macedonia in the Euro 2020 which means I will be back snacking after the game with the Netherlands.

Only Food and Courses

Address: Pop Brixton

Booking via the website: https://www.onlyfoodandcourses.co.uk/

This is a brand new, top of the range, eatery in Pop Brixton that opened only weeks ago. They have all day dining -12.00 to 5.00 pm and then a supper club in the evening (8.00 pm to 10.00 pm, Thurs-Sat), when they serve a fixed six course tasting menu. They will take walk-ins during the day but not for the evening, but it is best to book any time as there is limited seating. We visited for a long Sunday lunch with friends in May.

They describe their food as ” From Caf’ clichés, to dinner party classics, and cocktails raided from your mum’s drinks cabinet, this is the best of British nostalgia”. A great description of the deconstructed classics from the 70s and 80s.

We made it simple and ordered one of everything on the lunchtime menu – four starters, four mains and two desserts. The titles of the dishes give nothing away – Bloody Mary’, ‘Ham, Egg & Chips’, Prawn Cocktail and ……..a surprise for you, as we can’t remember. From the pictures you can see that they are splendid renditions, with just enough to interest everyone and it was just too hard to decide a favourite. The Bloody Mary consists of a granita which comes with roast tomatoes and chickpea chips. Ham, egg and chips is a terrine with more chickpea chips and egg yolks. But we don’t want to spoil the fun which is wrapped up in the surprise, so here the detail stops. Even on the first two photos you will see there are “extras” – ask them to describe them in detail. You may need to take notes as we forgot as soon as they moved away from the table.

For the main course we got Smoked Short Rib Hash, Crab Scotch Egg, Lobster Doughnuts and we think it was a duck eclairs, but it was really “pretty as a picture” even on a rainy Sunday. The beef had a rich sauce, the scotch egg was runny and had crab instead of meat and the others…. well my mouth is watering just looking at them.

We were pretty full at this stage and the small plates do ramp up the charges, but we decided to complete the whole menu with the two remaining items – Lemon Meringue and Beetroot Bakewell. Again pretty as all desserts should be. The bakewell was a bit dry, but the lemon tart a sensation.

We washed it all down with several Brixton brews.

This is not a cheap meal, but it is an excellent one. We ate far too much and each plate was between £10 and £14 – so you can see that splashing out on every part of the menu increased costs considerably. These were quirky plates, pretty but also good to eat – next time we visit we will try not to be too hungry and just look at them for a bit longer before pulling them all apart. Their six course tasting menu (which we will have to try, but maybe for a special occasion) is £65.00.

Wuli Wuli – the takeaway

address: 15 Camberwell Church Street

Telephone: 020 7708 5024

https://www.wuliwulicamberwell.co.uk/

Even though you can now visit restaurants, bookings are really hard to get, so we are still relying on a takeaway or delivery each week. This is a very good Chinese restaurant in Camberwell and we recommend it, so you may not need to read to the end.

Wuli Wuli is a Chinese restaurant specialising in Sichuan meals. Think a bit spicy to very spicy. It has its own delivery service so choose that method for ordering from its website. They ring you up if they spot an error or to offer a slightly different meal. The menu is a bit overwhelming so do not order when you are too hungry as the portions are very large. The menu is long – appetizers stretch to 14 and there are seven kinds of Dim Sum even before you get to handmade dumplings and soup.

Overwhelmed by choice we chose 2 B set dinners which consist of – Chicken sweetcorn soup, portion of crispy aromatic duck, sweet and sour chicken, beef with green peppers in black bean sauce, stir fried mix vegetables and special fried rice. The picture doesn’t show the Chicken sweetcorn soup but it was deliciously spicy and the first to be devoured. None of it was greasy – surprising given the number of fired things here.

We liked it all – not always the case with takeaway food. We also had some leftover which provided lunch the following day.

The cost was £27.98 with no service fee as we ordered direct from the site. A bargain for the quality and amount of food.

Sandwich corner

A takeaway from a local outlet, eaten in Brockwell Park, has been a real treat during lockdown, even when the weather has been inclement. Some of these outlets have sprung up but may only last a little while as lockdown ends. This is a description, not a competition and we don’t know when some will stop providing an al fresco lunch – although given the hopes for better weather, perhaps they might like to continue to feed those going into the park.

We normally enter the park from the Brixton Water Lane entrance, so our reports focus on what during lockdown became “Sandwich Corner”, with some interesting new choices. Obviously, there are other options near the other entrances, especially the one in Herne Hill. You could also buy sandwiches from Sainsbury’s, or even go for an old-fashioned kebab.

The trend was led by Maremma, who worked out early on that they had to show some initiative, given the pandemic. We have liked it as a restaurant (see here and here) and, unsurprisingly, their sandwiches were excellent.

Then we went to Il Sovrano, an excellent new Italian delicatessen. The address is Tulse Hill, but it’s down at the Brixton end. Don’t get confused and head off towards West Norwood. This place deserves an entry of its own, so watch this space. But here we really wanted to have their truffled beef sandwich, which is simply stunning. Perhaps it’s too good, as on the occasion of our review they’d sold out. So we had to have a salami and mozzarella wrap instead. Still tasty.

Finally there’s Naughty Piglets. Again, a top local restaurant (see here and here) offering a takeaway option during lockdown. They transformed themselves into a Burger Bar with a range of interesting options, as well as the classics. But this wasn’t a M*******d’s. We chose a char siu pork bun with Korean mayo plus chips. Here the culture clash worked to everyone’s advantage. And maybe our appetites are shrinking, but one meal was plenty for two of us. So the cost of £12 was reasonable value.

India Week – in Lockdown

Although you can now visit outdoor restaurants it is chilly and rainy for May. So, as we head towards indoor eating, we decided to focus our weekly food on India. Or, more accurately, our interpretation of Indian cuisine based on that staple recipe, “whatever’s left in the fridge, with spices”. I hope that explains what we have here with two types of roast cabbage, plus a mixed vegetable curry. In truth, this approach became the theme of the week.

Then another vegetable curry. It might look the same as yesterday but this one had mushrooms, aurbergine, more spinach and lots of chillies. It came with a dhal, but we forgot to take a photograph.

We always cook more potatoes than we need so the remaining ones were spiced up and with added coriander and a relatively short memory it was a “bit different from yesterday. For this dish we added one of our home grown chillis (surprisingly easy to keep alive) and we also added tamerind.

Finally we had spicy lentil and tomato soup, using leftover dhal as the base with the addition of what were rapidly becoming time-expired tomatoes.

Dishoom (our inspiration this week) was wonderful but expensive, so this week’s options were a balance. Not all vegan but all vegetarian and definitely an introduction to those “layered” flavours, as they say on Great British Menu.

Dishoom – the lockdown delivery

This is Bombay comfort food but also elegant. It pays homage to the Irani cafes. There are five restaurants in London and they offer delivery from breakfast to dinner, as well as a store where you can order a marmalade mimosa and bacon naan roll kit (or the vegan version) – good for birthdays as well as lots of other cocktails in dinky bottles.

To start off our Indian week we ordered from this more upmarket restaurant which has always been advertised by friends as a great place to eat. So we gave it a try. Ours came by Deliveroo (we had no choice!). We tried a lot of dishes just to get the hang of it, and this is not a cheap restaurant so it is definitely buyer beware. They also advertise that the delivery dishes are those that can abide travel. We agreed on that – everything was in peak condition despite the lengthy delivery.

The menu comes in separate sections, but is long so order when you are not starving. There are small and larger plates, rice, bread and puddings. It is also easy to order vegetarian and vegan and there is lots of advice about the ingredients that might cause some people a problem (e.g. Black Daal contains milk). We ordered Jackfruit Biryani (with saffron’d rice with mint, coriander and sultanas), Chole (spiced chickpea curry from the Punjab), House Black Daal (a Dishoom signature dish which is cooked over 24 hours), Vegetable samosa (pea and potato spiced with cinnamon and cloves) served with a small pot of tamarind chutney, Chilli Broccoli Salad (half portion) and a plain naan. We also ordered rasmalai (milk curds with almonds, in saffron-cardamom cream) and mango lassi for dessert.

Yes you can see that we over-ordered and this was after we had filled our plates. There was nothing that we didn’t like and we were really impressed that an Indian restaurant could be so different even on a delivery. So well done.

For dessert – a rare treat – we ordered ras malai (sweet cooked cheese in sweetened milk) and a mango lassi. This is the half portion.

The following day we finished the ….. by making it into a toastie

The bill came to £51.60 which was enough food for two for at least two or three days. Will definitely order again.