Earlier this week I tried out a new restaurant down the road from us – as you may have gleaned from earlier posts…or perhaps you didn’t, in which case this is all news to you!
So, having read up on it, (the restaurant, I mean…) it seemed to be a stalwart of the Brixton foodie scene – which is surprisingly rich, with restaurants and cafes all over the place selling various worldly cuisines. Lots of people mentioned how delicious the chicken was, how nice the staff were, how much the locals loved it.
Personally, I couldn’t wait. I had a hankering for some Caribbean food, and having stopped off there on Sunday for some of their yummy home made lemonade, I was looking forward to sampling more of the menu. Particularly since it seemed so affordable, and was the first restaurant with a B.Y.O.B. policy that I’ve seen in this area. Finally, somewhere to take over the large, empty rift that The Hammersmith Cafe left in my life when I moved to Streatham…
So on the bus me and my other half went, sunglasses on – feeling decidedly vampirish in the sunlight after a long, dark winter. Unfortunately the sun has not lasted into the week; yesterday the weather was bordering on schizophrenic, with heavy rain, rolling thunder and brooding clouds one minute, and innocent looking sunshine the next.
Any way, on this particular day, the weather held and we sat outside in their roadside garden. It’s fenced off from the street, with fairy lights and plants decorating the area – which I assume only adds to the ambience when it gets darker, in the evening.
We got there early, and so had the pick of the tables; but it gets very busy. Practically every table inside was reserved. As more people enter, the service can get a little slow. But to be honest, I didn’t mind. The staff were very polite and friendly – it seems to be a family run restaurant and it can feel very homely and casual. The decor is a little sparse, and to go to the toilet you pass through a part of the kitchen – but none of this took away from the charm.
The menu has a range of Caribbean dishes, including a vegan section for…well, for vegans. Or anyone else who just happens to like tofu (they do exist!). ‘Ital’ – a diet many Rastafarians follow, which in it’s strictest form is entirely vegan. This was explained on the menu itself, which I thought was pretty interesting.
We ordered Ackee and Saltfish with Plantain Wedges as a starter. My other half was dubious as to whether or not she’d like it. Even I was a bit nervous about the plantains; they were a staple part of the diet when I travelled to Costa Rica a few years ago – along with rice and beans…Honestly I wasn’t sure how happy I would be to taste them again, given that by the time I left I swore I didn’t even want to see one again, never mind eat it…
But how wrong can you be? Very wrong, it would seem. Our risky venture paid off, with the Ackee and Saltfish being utterly delicious – and the plantain wedges giving a nice sweetness to balance the salty, fishy, oddly creamy texture.
This was just a starter portion, you can get it for breakfast or even as a main course for lunch and dinner. It’s actually the national dish of Jamaica – even though Ackee is actually a fruit native to West Africa (as well as toxic, when it hasn’t been cooked. Yummy.) I’ll certainly be getting some more when I next grace Negril with my presence – hopefully tomorrow, yay!
Onwards, there are certain deals you could get – kind of like Nandos, chicken and 2 sides or a burger and a side and so on. My other half had Jerk Chicken with Rice and Gungo Peas and a ‘Festival’ – a sweet cornmeal dumpling with a touch of vanilla. She asked if she could have the chicken very hot, and it came with a small ramekin of the hottest jerk sauce I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, I dipped the very end of my little finger in to taste the smallest drop I could, and my whole mouth was still on fire. I don’t know if the dish comes with that sauce primarily or if it was her request for something spicy, but either way she was happy (if a bit watery eyed and red by the time she’d finished). The Festival gave a nice counter balance to it all, though she made the mistake of dipping it right in the hot sauce and taking a big bite. Steam practically shot from her ears and I was very glad I hadn’t made the same mistake.
It was delicious, with tender chicken as well. The fact the sauce came to the side rather than on it meant you had a certain amount of control over just how hot hot HOT you wanted it, too!
I decided to try something a little different, and went with Goat Curry with a Roti – a Jamaican flat bread. The meat was tender, and tasted similar to venison – interesting, since I’d never eaten Goat before. The Roti was perfect to mop the whole thing up. I did feel the actual curry could have used something more, just to bring out the flavour a bit – but I’m no chef, that could just have been me. It wasn’t too spicy, which was good for me! But I believe one only need ask for extra spice, and they’d oblige. They all seemed more than happy to help.
There was a mere £2.50 corkage charge per person, for as much drink as they’d like. Way cheaper than buying alcohol pretty much…well, any where. We were happy with a couple of beers and a ciders each, just to wash down the meal to perfection.
Heading back tomorrow evening for some more delicious food. We will be making reservations this time though…don’t want to risk missing our spot. All in all, I think I’ll be spending more time in Brixton, now…for the Ackee and Saltfish if nothing else!