Here at eatinbrixton we are devotees of a good bacon sandwich. They are a guilty pleasure for many; even for some vegetarians. So we’ve set out to check what’s on offer in Brixton. The best place to get a bacon sandwich is, of course, a proper ‘greasy spoon’, or what used to be called a working man’s caff. These are now an endangered species in Brixton, but they can be found. We also checked out what was on offer from one of the newer more foodie options, as well as simply making one at home. Continue reading →
Souvlaki has suddenly become a thing but how does it differ from a kebab. Wikipedia defines it as “a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It is usually served with grilled bread, or in a pita wrap with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes.” So it’s a kebab, but trendier and not from something that announces itself as a kebab shop for those needing a protein boost in between pubs.
Anyway, Mikos Souvlaki has recently opened in the busy part of Acre Lane. Painted a bright pink it’s hard to miss, even though it’s partly hidden by the bus shelter. Inside it’s minimalist with basic tables and chairs and little on the walls. It also has a minimalist menu, with just four main dishes, the classic, i.e. pork, the chicken, the vegetarian – cheese, (Cypriot halloumi) and the mushroom.
Despite not having had a kebab for many years we had read good things about this restaurant and swung by early one weekday evening. We chose a classic and a mushroom with added chips. We really enjoyed both but were not convinced that having the chips inside the wrap is a great idea, unless it’s for the convenience of a takeaway. With the salsa and tomatoes they are bound to end up soggy. The mushroom souvlaki had not only a good taste but also some texture.
There’s also a few shared plates on the menu, including some olives (which were great) and oregano-salted fries (OK, except the oregano seemed to be a bit lacking). There’s also “Aegean slaw” and extra tzatziki but we were not brave enough.
As well as the soft drinks there’s are two types of beer and four types of wine (2 red, 2 white); all Greek. But as it was a school night we opted for tap water.
Unfortunately I’ve lost the bill but it cost around £15 altogether and was great value.
Usually we do not review chains but this is so small – only a couple of outlets – that we decided to make an exception. We also wanted to cover different types and prices of meals. This is a green, white and black Jamaican restaurant which looks like a café with melamine tables and chairs. There is a bar on the left, with a limited selection of drinks, and a line of hot and cold dishes to the left. The line of dishes is important as this is a buffet. All you can eat within 90 minutes.
There is choice but it is hard to discern what each dish is as there is rarely a label and often dishes look alike. So this is a real voyage of discovery. We think there was jerk chicken (several varieties), fried chicken, curry goat, potentially lamb in a sauce, rice and peas, salads, plantain and callaloo (or could have been spinach). There are also some desserts – fruit and a pudding (we weren’t sure what it was).
We had a bit of several of the dishes and the chicken was hot and spicy – the kind that has your lips tingling for several hours. The rice and peas were my favourite. The plantain my least as it looked really delicious but had only been caramelized and was hard at the centre. We went back a few times and all the food was hot (temperature) and they did keep refilling the containers when it looked too low so there was always enough to choose from.
For a Caribbean cheap fast meal for the very hungry this is a good outlet. We wouldn’t choose it for a night out. It costs £7.50 per person and you can choose a soft drink, water or alcohol and they allow BYO.
A decent fish and chip take away is something that has been lacking in Brixton for a while. Don’t’ want to mention Olly’s in Herne Hill (oops) but it’s been our favourite for years. Only problem is it’s a bit of a trek away if you fancy a fish supper on a whim. Introducing Brixton’s Rock. With a branch already in Brockley this one is situated half way up Acre Lane, opposite Lidl. So last Friday, with Nan and Grandad paying us a visit, we decided it was time for a family take away. To be honest there isn’t much point describing the inside. It’s like any other fish and chip shop, although much more welcoming and attractive than some of the other take away joints on Acre Lane. It’s very silver and shiny.
Although the restaurant overlooks Acre Lane the door is in Branksome Road and even with these instructions it can be missed. There is a doorbell just round the corner of Acre Lane and a discreet notice. Gone is loved Upstairs and to replace it we have a bar with food with the unlikely and unlovely name of the Beast of Brixton. The first noticeable change is the speakeasy-looking door on Branksome Road is now open if you push it. Up the stairs you find the same two small rooms one with a bar and the other an extension with seating for about 20 people. The interior is different with only the long beige couches left on either floor from the previous owners. The walls are now covered with colours and on each floor there is a feature wall of silver or flock skulls. As I said an unlovely name and unlovely walls.
This is really a bar with snacks which are small or large plates. The bar has a few drinks options – cocktails, wine and beer – but limited doesn’t mean uninteresting. The cocktails are cheap by Brixton standards and so are the other drinks and they sell it in the right quantities, i.e. 125ml glasses of wine are available here.
Each week they are now going to have a pop-up chef. We missed the Japanese street food and were there on the first night of El Marinero. Pop-ups seem to be all street food that can be prepared in the very small kitchen on the top floor so they will probably be chefs used to a van at a street market. Again the choice is limited – about 6 small and 5 large plates. Plates is a misnomer as they are served in a cardboard box. As El Marinero implies this week it is Spanish fish dishes like whitebait, scallops and chorizo and squid. Large plates are served with spinach salad (well more of a garnish) and rice.
We chose scallops and chorizo and the squid with a small plate of fried chillies. The chillies are not for the faint-hearted. The first bite is sweet and warm but that is before you get to the seeds which are fantastically hot. In fact the menu did warn that it was hot but as we left we noticed they had changed it to “very hot”. They came with a sweet tomato sauce and a lemony mayonnaise. The squid was cooked perfectly with enough flaked salt and pepper to make it interesting. The scallops were also cooked well, soft but not slimy.
The chef came out and gave us an extra dish – whitebait – which was to the same high standard.
We drank a Verdita (coriander, vodka and green chilli) which was a shock at first but very interesting and not too much like an alcopop, a rum, sorrel and spiced hibiscus (which was too sweet) and a glass of white wine. The whole lot came to £30.00. So for a fast food and cocktail restaurant this is reasonable value. But this is not fine dining but the food was good and the menu will change each week so there will always be something new to try.
There’s no shortage of places to buy meat in Brixton and we cannot claim to have tried them all. We are also not great meat eaters, at least when eating at home. Nevertheless, it’s time we had a look at butchers in our series of reports on Brixton food shops. The trouble is that while there are lots of shops selling meat, there are not that many I consider proper butchers. Also when you see a secondhand supermarket trolley full of carcasses being wheeled down Atlantic Road it does make you think of being a vegetarian. But there are places I have found that can be relied upon to provide value for money. Continue reading →