16C Market Row, London SW9 8LD
Tel. No. 020 7978 8830
This restaurant has no menu, rarely is English spoken inside and the food is confusing, which is probably why most guides to eating in Brixton ignore this restaurant. It serves Brixton’s West African community and it can be a bit intimidating but everyone is friendly and helpful. We decided to take our 20 year old trainee midwife guest right out of her comfort zone and to somewhere she would never have entered alone. This was really a test of whether a complete novice could cope. She did really well so now more intrepid Brixtonians need to step inside. If you are not lucky enough to be travelling to Ghana then this is the next best thing.
We reviewed this already [see here] but we thought most people would need a reminder of the types of food that are served. This is, as it says on the front, “authentic2 which means it revolves around large amounts of carbohydrate – namely banku, kenkey or fufu which are all made from one or more of rice, corn, cassava and plantain. The difference lies in the preparation –
- Banku is cooked and fermented corn and cassava dough. It has a strange slightly yeasty taste and comes as a ball of something like greyish mashed potato.
- Kenkey is fermented corn dough and comes wrapped in leaves and is a more solid consistency. It is like a sourdough dumpling and so the easiest way in to the starchy part of a meal.
- Fufu is usually pounded cassava and plantain and you eat it by pinching of a bit, dipping it into the sauce and swallowing whole. It looks more gelatinous than the other two in this list and we can’t comment on the taste because we have not yet been brave enough to attempt it.
With each type of carbohydrate you can choose meat or fish or stew (usually tomatoes and something else – we have never asked). Sometimes this is very spicy but on our last visit was just really rich. But for the faint-hearted they also sell Jollof rice, which is a sort of colourful and spicy risotto.
The restaurant is open during the week and on Saturday but only until 6.30 but you can get a takeaway. The main carbohydrate is sold in plastic bags, which is authentic, as this is just how it is sold on the streets of Accra and Elmina. We ordered two lots of Banku, stew and fish and meat and a jollof rice with fried fish.
Those eating the Banku get a stainless steel bowl full of warm water and some liquid soap as this meal is eaten with your fingers. The Jollof came with cutlery.. I only got one portion of Banku and I did manage to finish it this time. Pulling bits off and dipping them in the stew was relatively easy, if a little messy and sticky. The fish though was taxing as it was very hot, so they took pity on me and gave me a knife and fork. The Jollof was tasty, not too spicy and went well as a foil to the fried fish. The meat was a little tough but our guest ate nearly all of her meal. We were really pleased as she is an Edinburgh lass who doesn’t like spicy, has never eaten any African food and for whom exotic is pizza. Now she can go home with something to remember.
The entire meal was inexpensive at £15 – it would be hard to spend a lot of money .. We didn’t have any drinks but there is water and other soft drinks available.
Address: 443 Coldharbour Lane SW9 8LN
Telephone: 020 7095 9443
Information food: http://www.mamasjerkstation.com/
Information venue: http://www.market-house.co.uk/index.php/foodie/
Market House has a record of getting good and interesting food (see here for an earlier example) and we can say from the beginning that this is a winner, although we recommend that everyone should concentrate on their signature dish – the chicken.
Getting a table at Market House, especially on a Saturday night, can be a problem, so think ahead and book. Then when you arrive you need to work out that you have to order the food at the bar, especially if you arrive a bit early.
The menu consists of meat and one veggie option – with Jerk chicken, Jerk pork sausage, Jerk saltfish cakes. Depending on your option you get it in a wrap with salad, with sweet potato mash or jerk spiced fries, rice and peas, battered plantain and coleslaw. Most come with tropical mayo, BBQ sauce and/or Jerk sauce (very hot).
We ordered a chicken meal and the sausages. The chicken was fantastic, lots of depth of flavour but not overdoing the heat, as long as you didn’t try dipping in the pepper sauce. The sausages were also interesting but overdone.
The slaw was great and very colourful, and the mash was spicy and warming. The plantain …. well what can you ever say about plantain – heavy but with the addition of the mayo or hot sauce was a sweet addition to the whole meal. The disappointment (apart from the sausages) was the rice and peas which didn’t taste fresh or really of very much – Brixton clientele are the most discerning of this staple, which is sold in all the Jerk chicken shops (see our run down of takeaway shops ). But we thought Mama Jerks chicken was a definite contender for the best of Brixton.
Most dishes are £8.00 to £10.00 and the total bill came to £36.40. This included, thanks to the Market House’s extended happy hour, two £5 cocktails while we waited (an excellent caipirinha and an interesting electric boogaloo) and two beers (Sagres) to drink with the meal.
So.Much.Food. From sushi and brownies to chicken and tortillas and crepes I have actually only recently regained my appetite after our gluttonous evening in preparation for the brand new festival Brixton Flavours. With the actual day not until Sunday 26th October we were invited to see what the whole thing was all about this week and also apparently to eat our whole body weight in food.
Brixton Flavours states that it is a festival to introduce people to the wide variety of cuisines and restaurants that our beloved hometown has to offer. It was clear from the way the organisers spoke that that they were committed to making sure that they didn’t just go to the well-known haunts in town, but to showcase all that Brixton has on offer. This is something that we at Eat in Brixton are always striving to achieve so it’s brilliant to see others with such passion as well. The day ticket holders are invited to sample secret dishes not usually available on the menu from over 22 restaurants around Brixton (full list of those participating can be found here). You will also be given 15 Brixton pounds to spend in any of the participating restaurants, so incorporating the idea of boosting the local economy.
16C Market Row, London SW9 8LD
Tel. No. 020 7978 8830
The main blogs about Brixton have so far ignored this restaurant – perhaps because it mainly serves Brixton’s West African community. Although we had previously eaten here we also had not provided a review. This is because we never really knew whether or not this was an “Authentic Ghanaian Restaurant”, as it tells us on the front. However, after spending an enjoyable week’s holiday in Ghana, we can now confidently affirm that it most definitely is. It is not so much hidden as unassuming. The front is half covered with frosted glass, so it’s hard to see inside before you enter and, when you do, it probably doesn’t look as inviting as many of the pop-ups in the Village. There are no bright lights, no tasteful décor. Just some posters, a few odd angled tables and mismatched chairs, through which you have to negotiate safe passage to the counter. There you order your food, with usually just one person taking orders and serving the food from an array of large pots. Given the unfamiliarity of the food and surroundings, you might feel you need to be quite brave to step over the threshold, but it is worth the effort.
Brixton and jerk chicken go together. Despite all the changes that are taking place in what’s available to eat in Brixton, it still has more places serving West Indian food that any other type. For almost all of them, the signature dish is jerk chicken. But which one serves the most authentic and the best?
Answering the question is bound to be controversial; everyone who is into jerk chicken has their favourite. So we decided that we had to try them all, or at least those that specialise in takeaways. There are, of course, a few proper sit down places that also serve jerk chicken – see, for example our reviews of: Bamboula; Fish, Wings and Tings; Negril; and Veranda – but in our mind it is more enjoyable as a takeaway. One of the eatinbrixton team has lunch in Brixton most days and, over the last couple of years, he has been enjoying himself giving all the jerk chicken joints in central Brixton a try.
This research led to a shortlist of six and then, to ensure an independent view of which was the best, we invited friends and family to a blind tasting. There were nine of us round the table, with ages ranging from 24 to 81, and, it worked surprisingly well, although pedants might argue that the amount of Red Stripe that was consumed will have affected the results as the evening wore on.