Banh Banh

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Address: 326 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QH

Telephone: 020 7737 5888

http://www.banhbanh.com/peckham/ (Yes, although it does seem odd)

Opening hours:
Mon                      CLOSED
Tues –  Thu          6 – 10pm
Fri                         6 – 11pm
Sat                         11am – 3pm + 6pm – 11pm
Sun                        11am – 3pm + 6pm – 9pm

This is a new addition to Brixton – a Vietnamese street food restaurant. We haven’t visited their other branch in Peckham, but this one is bigger and definitely minimalist. Looks like plywood tables and school chairs or benches. Most tables are for two or four and there are two sittings each evening. We went on just their second night, so a few things needed ironing out like whether the lights come on in the toilets (relying on motion sensors that didn’t even respond to a lot of jumping and dancing).

The menu is short with dishes described as smallish, biggish, classic and side orders. We ordered from the biggish (Banh Khot pancakes) and the classics (Bun Noodle Salad), with a smallish (green papaya salad) to start.  The salad was delightful and not that smallish. It comes with large prawns. We had a good explanation of the ingredients (prawns, carrots, unripe papaya, red pepper, red onion etc., with some fish sauce and chilli). To keep the papaya crisp you have to plunge it into iced water and you can buy them (they are white fleshed) at Chinese and Asian supermarkets.

My choice for the next courses was not as good – the prawn pancakes were not what I expected. Although they were presented in an attractive way, they were a bit tough to eat and the pancake part a bit under-cooked. But I did as suggested and wrapped them in a lettuce leaf with some mint and dipped them in the sweet chilli sauce. A bit messy but you do get your greens.

The Bun Noodle salad is described as a vermicelli noodle salad with paddy field herbs, noodles, pickles, cucumber, topped with shallots + peanuts. It came with bbq pork patties and a pork and prawn spring roll. This was certainly biggish and also looked really attractive – it was dismantled due to hunger before we remembered to take the photo.It could of had a bit more zing and it’s a shame there were no extra condiments on the tables.

bb05We washed it down with two salty lemonades (there are several homemade drinks to choose from and tap water. There was a whole list of alcoholic drink but this was a school night. The bill including 12.5% extra for “optional service” came to £38.81. We are likely to return but probably not for a few months.

Oxalis at The Shrub and Shutter

Address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QH.
Phone: 020 7326 0643
Websites:

Location: http://www.theshrubandshutter.com/

Food: http://www.oxalislondon.com/

Monday – closed
Tuesday 5pm – midnight
Wednesday 5pm – midnight
Thursday 5pm – midnight
Friday 5pm – 2am
Saturday 5pm – 2am
Sunday – closed

Our normal approach is to keep you in the dark about what we think about a restaurant but we are breaking with this practice to tell you that Oxalis (the current pop-up caterers at Shrub and Shutter) are brilliant and we are not usually so enthusiastic. It’s not complicated food but it is imaginative with a focus on flavour.

We have reviewed the cocktails before; see here, here and here. But on this hot and steamy night we went for wine and beer. There are lots of things to choose from but we cut out that difficulty by choosing one of the tasting menus. There are two – one veggie and one with meat. We had the meat option. On top of this we were given an “amuse bouche” (aren’t we posh) of a warm squid ink cracker with dark crab meat topped with a lardon. Now you get the way this is moving. It was delicious – so delicious that it was eaten before we could take a photo.

Then we moved on to the main menu – a delicious tomato salad with elderflower and mustard. I am soon going to run out of superlatives as it was the best thing to start us off – fresh with little bursts of mustard flavour. All four of us were delighted.

Fennel tortellini, poppy seeds and crayfish – even though these are tasting menu portions there was definitely enough crayfish. So just sublime with a crunch.

Pork, kohlrabi and sea buckthorn came next- sounds interesting and it was but also excellent.
The empty half of the plate left room for some vegetables; new potatoes and grilled gem lettuce as shown in the photographs, plus some mange-tout.
The simple dessert was cherries, cream and a garnish of the eponymous oxalis (Google just said it was an edible weed, which doesn’t sound very appealing, but most of you have probably heard of wood sorrel).
All this flavour and innovation for £30.00 a head. The bill of was larger, of course, as it included our wine and beer. As we were celebrating in company we didn’t stint ourselves, although I paid for it with a hangover. Oxalis popped up in Shrub and Shutter just a month ago. It will be around for another 4 or 5 months but don’t waste any time – go and eat as soon as you can.

Chick’n’Sours

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

Opening hours:
Wednesday–Friday evenings only;
Saturday–Sunday 12pm–late
(closed Monday–Tuesday)

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

This is a pop-up restaurant in the premises of the recently closed Calcutta Street (we were sad to see this go). Chick and Sours is usually based in Haggerstown but their premises are being refurbished, so they are trying their hand in cosmopolitan Brixton. They have a limited menu of snacks, sandwiches and pickles to go with beer or a cocktail. Devoted to chicken – fried on a bun. Continue reading

El Rancho de Lalo

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Address: 94-95 Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PS

Telephone: 020 7737 2648

Opening times:
Monday to Wednesday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Thursday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

email: elranchodelalo@hotmail.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Rancho-De-Lalo/156815314336773

El Rancho de Lalo has been in Brixton Village for as long as we can remember and has just re-opened after a bit of a spring clean and paint. It was one of the first places we reviewed, favourably, back in 2012 and it still holding its own. Thankfully, the menu hasn’t changed much and it is sticking to filling (see photos below) simple Colombian food. We went around 12:30 pm on Friday lunchtime and had to wait, briefly, for a table. By the time we got our food there was a lengthy queue, both for sit down meals and takeaways.

The inside has not changed except there are fancy new extractors and three large colourful paintings that could have a Columbian origin. Thankfully, the seating is more comfortable as well.  Tables outside now have a heater and all seats (including those inside) have a blanket. There are only eight tables inside and we shared with a single woman who clearly knew the menu better than we did. The service was friendly, came with a smile. Most diners were South American and Spanish was the main language spoken on the tables near us. So the hipster community can regard this restaurant as authentic. Continue reading

Shrub and Shutter

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address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8QH

telephone: 020 7326 0643

info@shrubandshutter.co.uk

http://theshrubandshutter.com/

We have visited Shrub and Shutter [see here and here] on many occasions, mainly for the cocktails and some appetizers. But on this occasion we went the whole hog and had an early impromptu dinner (book if you decide to go as they just squeezed us in).  It doesn’t have a big sign, so just keep walking on Coldharbour Lane after Brixton Village and it is on the left hand side near a Fish and Chip shop and Okan Ramen. Although the frontage is narrow it stretches back into a reasonable sized restaurant with a very eclectic feel – pictures, blackboards and a stuffed fox. Opened by two entrepreneurs Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza, known for their mixology -they now have a pop-up looking after the food. Chris Boustead & Tomas Bidois cook modern British dishes using seasonal produce and for the whole menu you need to get in early as they run out of some items. Continue reading

Hot Diggity Dog! at Market House

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Address 443 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LN

Telephone: 020 7095 9443

http://www.market-house.co.uk

Market House is a pub with attitude and a pop-up history. This is where in 2014 Tim Anderson, the Masterchef champion, started with a ‘pop-up’ before opening Nanban and in 2015 Mama’s Jerk, now of Pop Brixton, had a try-out. The current offering is hot dogs  from an outfit with the slightly cringe-worthy name. For previous reviews from Market House see here and here

We chose one of the really busy nights – Saturday – but even then we did get a table for the two of us around 7:30. The pub was packed with a mixed stag/hen group and when they left there was relative peace. But if you want to have a romantic conversation then try another night or another place. You order at the bar and in all the confusion we ended up with three meals instead of two – and two was enough. So make sure the barman reviews your order before you finally pay.

Continue reading

Fancy Funkin Chicken

ffc01441 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8LN, UK

020 7733 0108

Instagram @fancyfunkinchicken

http://www.fancyfunkinchicken.com/

This new place, only opening in September, describes itself as a late-night chicken shop, serving a southern American spin on fried chicken, along with a dedicated cocktail menu. It will also host a range of DJs every weekend but this probably means in the evening. On Sunday lunchtime we just enjoyed listening to the background music, which was mostly classic soul.

For old Brixton hands this is, of course, the premises occupied by the much-missed Phoenix Café, a classic ‘greasy spoon’ of long-standing, before it moved further down the street and then vanished. It was always rather poky and, even following a total reconstruction from the foundations up, it’s still on the small side. There are some cosy four seater booths on one side, opposite the bar, but most of the seating is on stools at high bar tables. It’s also a little on the dark side, which I suppose gives it some atmosphere.

I’m not sure what constitutes south American fried chicken and the food on offer is pretty Brixton generic – i.e. much like stuff you can now get at many other places in Brixton. There are the inevitable chicken burgers; crispy fried chicken wings of course, with a choice of sauce varying only in how spicy hot they are; and, somewhat randomly, waffles. If this place is going to succeed it needs to stand out by the quality of the food, rather the uniqueness of what’s on offer. One plus is that the meat comes from ‘free range happy chickens’, although quite how they know the chickens were happy is unclear.

There were three of us and the dedicated vegetarian had the Jackson burger – described on the menu as a ‘veggie patty, roast beetroot, sweet potato, black bean and wild rice with a blend of herbs and spices’ served in a sesame seed bun with cheese, lettuce, onion and mayo. This received a definite thumbs up, marking an improvement on the usual tasteless beanburger. The bun also maintained the structural integrity of the dish

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I had the chicken wings with the middle-ranking sauce, described as “having a little kick”, which was quite hot enough. The wings were oddly small but properly crispy, despite being served smothered in the sauce. I chose the smaller serving size, supposedly six, although there were more.

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The third choice was boneless chicken pieces (chicken nuggets in other words), served deep fried in breadcrumbs with a “secret spice mix” and BBQ sauce. The sauce was given a positive review, with a deep savoury smoky taste, although the chicken itself wasn’t really as interesting as it should have been.

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ffc05For sides we had a portion of fries, a dish of coleslaw and waffles. The fries were fine, if not outstanding; the coleslaw was as we like it; and the waffles were a bit odd, mainly because we were expecting savoury potato waffles, but were served ones made with flour and served with a sweet sauce. The portion size of the sides cannot be described as generous but, in the event, we had plenty to eat.

The service was attentive and appropriate action was taken when there was a delay due to a problem with the waffle machine, i.e. we were given our drinks (passionfruit juice, ginger beer and a coke) for free. We passed on a pudding (a limited choice), as well as cocktails, (a good choice). Altogether, without the drinks, the bill came to £30.50 before adding a tip.There’s been a suggestion that Brixton is becoming a giant food court and this places fits into that model. It’s going to have to work hard to develop its own identity as a food destination, or else it’s going to end up as just another place to have a drink and socialise.