The Billingsfield Kitchen at the Beehive

address: wherever they pop-up

telephone: 07773 397337

email: matt@thebillingsfieldkitchen.com

http://www.thebillingsfieldkitchen.com/

Lamb with clams, mackerel with rabbit?????? Sorry but it is Masterchef week. Yes those flavours are served up together and they are delicious. But by the time you read this it will be all over. This is a pop-up which was a sell out with their Tongue in Cheek menu at Cornercopia and has now has a repeat (although 6 months later) with their new Kitchen Dinner menu at the Beehive in Beehive Place.

The menu is fixed and called a tasting menu but don’t let that fool you in terms of the portions. The sharing plates are also conducive to the conversational style of the food. The waiters are always asking for feedback and they really take notice of an empty wine glass and an unopened bottle. We felt really coddled throughout. Tables are shared too and we had a pleasant evening talking about travelling with another couple who had just settled in Brixton.

On arrival we were given a martini glass full of rhubarb and grapefruit martini which really did taste of rhubarb. It was too sweet for a martini but certainly loosened the social inhibitions.

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The first course is a nibble – whitebait – and we thought this was the best we had had this year. It wasn’t oily or soggy as large batches often are. It was clearly cooked to order so was crispy and served with capers and herbs and some slabs of sough dough.

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Next came a clever quails egg rolled in shredded pastry and served with burnt lime mayonnaise. On the menu this is classed as a vegetable. The eggs were cooked but still runny but we would have liked much more lime in the mayo and a bit more salt on the eggs.

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Next came a potted hay-smoked mackerel pate with green olives and a rabbit terrine with leeks served with thin sough dough toast. The different textures went well together but on reflection they both needed a bit more seasoning.

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Lamb and clams is not the only thing served up in this level of the meal. You also get a whole Bream. This was a bit more difficult to serve as the lights had gone out and you needed to dissect the bones and be very careful putting anything in your mouth. But I thought the fish was cooked to perfection although my partner thought some bits were slightly under but better that way than overcooked and dry. We polished it all off. The Lamb was beginning to defeat me which was just because I was full and I certainly would have eaten it all if I could have. Neither flavour overwhelmed the other and the textures are similar with the crispy fat on the lamb and the slightly rubbery clams.Bill05Bill06

Vegetables are in short supply but at this stage the lamb and fish were served with a salt baked whole celeriac. I don’t generally choose this vegetable as I actually went off the taste of celery some time ago. But I am now a convert to this creamy hot and steamy mixture. It will now go on our list of special dishes for dinner with friends.

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Dessert was a Earl Grey pannacotta with orange curd and a delicious piece of well cut orange on the top.  The orange flavour comes at the beginning and then the Earl Grey creeps up on you so you float out of the meal.

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We are really enthusiastic about this group  and would really like to see them stay in Brixton. Their attention to seasonal and flavoursome food really impressed us. The current location really does play to their strengths of a shared eating experience. Their reputation should produce further interest (this was again a sell-out) and we hope a succession of customers. If you see an advert for another pop-up do go. This is interesting and surprising food with out being too taxing. At £35.00 plus £5.00 corkage per person we thought it was a bargain. We took a bottle with us but they also suggest using the local wine shops (Market Row Wines). Well done Billingsfield Kitchen. Do let us know where you end up and we hope it is nearby.

The Beast of Brixton

UpstairsAddress: 89B Acre Lane, entrance on Branksome Road, SW2 5TN

Telephone: 020 7733 8855

email: hello@thebeastofbrixton.com

http://www.thebeastofbrixton.co.uk/

 

 

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-imagelooking 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.

BoB02We 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.BoB06BoB05

The chef came out and gave us an extra dish – whitebait – which was to the same high standard.

 

BoB01We 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.

The Pickled Fork at Cornercopia

Address: 2nd Avenue Brixton Village

http://www.thepickledfork.com/

for all bookings please email alex@thepickledfork.com

We don’t eat out much at the beginning of the week but this was too tempting. A pop-up in Cornercopia and their USP is rissoles. The Pickled Fork settles every Tuesday in the same spot and provides a simple array of salad and rissoles with real ale. Rissoles according to Wikipedia are  small croquettes enclosed in pastry or rolled in breadcrumbs, usually baked or deep fried. They are filled with sweet or savoury ingredients, most often minced meat or fish and is served as an entrée, main course, dessert or side dish. They are served all over the world and now in Brixton Village. At 7.00pm the restaurant is not full so make your way further back in the Village to get a seat fast and taste these little beauties. Continue reading

Nanban at Market House

Nanban (1)

address: Market House, 443 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LN

Telephone: 020 7095 9443

email: info@market-house.co.uk

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

This month the 2011 the Masterchef winner Tim Anderson is visiting Brixton and so your intrepid reviewers sneaked in (incognito as usual) to provide a review to urge … yes we say urge (which is about as strong as it gets) to make a booking. And try, if you can, to go with a party of at least four, for reasons that will become clear. The restaurant for the month is now called Nanban – southern Japanese cooking. But first about Market House. This is just a canvas with a large room, various wooden tables, space outside and noise just on the edge of providing a sore throat the next day. You are greeted by the most divine waiter (his description not ours) who shows you to your table and keeps you entertained throughout the meal. Continue reading