Brixton is recovering from an unsavoury reputation and at the forefront of this is food. South London is teeming with young professionals with plenty of disposable income and an insatiable appetite for trendy grub.
The covered markets in Brixton have been transformed into a Mecca for the aspiring foodie. Great butchers nestle alongside independent coffee shops and catering suppliers. Given that it’s so close to the tube there’s no excuse not to go, but what should you try when you’re there?
These guys have been on my ‘to do’ list for a while, colleagues have raved about their high quality burgers and delicious chips. Their Brixton outpost is small and intimate, with the seemingly ubiquitous school stools and aged wood decor. I ordered their signature burger and a homemade lemonade.
The burger was well cooked (if a little over the medium-rare they advertise) but the beef was really good quality, sourced from the excellent Ginger Pig. The bun was great, light and soft but with enough body to hold together. The fillings were stellar – it’s definitely worth going for the bacon. The whole burger hangs together well, is possible to eat neatly and certainly beats out places like Byron.
The chips are cooked skin on and served with rosemary salt. They’d been well fried with a crispy exterior and a light puffy inside. It was much better than similar offerings from Five Guys, though they were crying out for some really nice homemade ketchup.
Honest Burger do great work, as a burger experience its up there with Shake Shack, MEATmarket and Patty & Bun. The independent burger scene is going from strength to strength and the results are so much better than the high street chains – branch out!
We’ve had gourmet hotdogs, gourmet burgers and gourmet pizza. It was only a matter of time before someone did gourmet chicken. Wishbone is a relatively new restaurant that offers good quality fried chicken in a trendy bar environment. Again you’ve got the retro bar stalls and aged wooden tables.
I ordered a batch of their buffalo wings – five nicely sized wings with a blue cheese dip. They took a little while to arrive and when they did the smell of raw vinegar almost made me choke! The sauce is very sharp with far too much acidity. This is almost offset by the blue cheese but it doesn’t really work. It’s a shame – the chicken was cooked beautifully, moist with a lovely crunchy skin, but the sauce lets it down.
Pizza is a simple thing – in Naples you’ll be lucky to see anything other than the margarita – bread, tomato, cheese and basil. It’s simple and delicious. Several pizza restaurants have opened recently offering something more authentic than the traditional takeaway and more exciting than Pizza Express.
Franco Manca is at the forefront of this movement, their Brixton market location is spread across two units. I can understand the need to keep tables free, but sitting single diners with other groups when there are empty tables seems a little mean. Their menu is simple and uncomplicated – a handful of pizzas and some interesting wines. I ordered their organic house red, an unusual italian wine which showcases strong mineral flavours rather than fruit, it was delicious!
The pizza I went for was their basic margarita. It’s a decent size and has the authentic puffy crust you’d expect from a traditional oven. The dough was good but a little bland – Pizza Pilgrims have a fantastic dough with a lovely salty sourdough tang. Franco Manca’s just tasted a little flat in comparison! The tomato sauce was fine but the mozzarella could have been creamier.
That’s not to underplay their pizza – it’s a step up on pizza express and in a whole different league to a takeaway. But compared to what Pizza Pilgrims can achieve in the back of a van, it’s a bit of a disappointment.
Brixton is going from strength to strength – the revitalised market is the perfect breeding ground for new and exciting restaurants. While there is certainly still room for improvement from Franco Manca and Wishbone, Honest Burger makes it worth the trip on it’s own.