Last week Time Out Magazine published a list of their Best Caribbean Restaurants in London and I was particularly thrilled to see Three Little Birds sitting at the top but it made me think, which restaurant would I consider to be the Best in Brixton? Everyone always goes on about how great Brixton is for food with the market, the village and restaurants popping up on neighbouring streets all the time, but as someone who works and lives in Brixton, I don’t think you can never have enough restaurants to choose from and unfortunately with skyrocketing rents there is the danger that independents can’t afford to set up outside of Pop Brixton and the Village. At lunch time choices are slim in Brixton as many restaurants don’t see the need to open during the day for barely any trade. Thankfully Pop Brixton is open during the day and I was able to discover Smoke & Salt one afternoon.
I’ll be honest, I had it in my mind to try a different restaurant at Pop Brixton but when we saw the menu at Smoke & Salt the Lamb Tartare whispered to me and the Boston Sour cocktail screamed at my lunch compadre. The decision was made, we were to sit out on the terrace underneath the shade of tree on a beautiful Summer Tuesday afternoon for an hour or so before heading back to work.
First our drinks arrived, the Boston Sour and Ginger Pimms were decent. Second up was the Old Post Office Bakery Sourdough (tick for supporting local vendors) and whipped “everything” butter, inspired by Everything Bagel was not only cute but really tasty. So much so that compadre had to order a second but I couldn’t blame him because life’s small pleasures can be summed up with warm bread and great butter. (Side note: I am a sucker for soft, easily spreadably, seasoned full-fat butter).
Do you know what a panelle is? I didn’t either but when I read chickpea fritter and spicy ketchup, I don’t really need to know what it is in order to want to try it. Panelles are Sicilian fritters, and I can’t help but wonder if Smoke & Salt’s neighbours had any influence on this dish but either way it is delicious! The spicy ketchup was moreish and the texture of the fritters reminded on the best gourmet chunky chips I’ve ever had!
The lamb tartare was beautifully dusted with sumac and just a couple pinches of seasoning away from amazing. The harissa provided some flavour and the radishes gave it the texture but each bite tasted of quality.
I never order chicken at a restaurant but I am glad we tried the Grilled Chicken Tartine the chicken was succulent but had those delicious crispy bits and each element had a role to play and boy it sang!
After you’ve had 2 portions of bread, 2 cocktails, 2 glasses of memorable Prosecco, 2 small plates for lunch and read London Mess for dessert, do you wait until next time to satisfy your sweet tooth so that you can get back to tackling your long list of admin or do you dig right in? You can guess what we did and we didn’t look back. The rose in the London Mess brings back fond memories of Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan, which is my favourite dessert of all time, and I did not even think about the extra calories I was consuming it tasted so good.
To conclude, Aaron (one of the chefs and owners) was really sweet & willing to share his knowledge and passion, the food was really good and Smoke & Salt might just be my favourite restaurant in Brixton, with its unpretentious simple food, and I will definitely be back once I have a couple hours and £60 to spare on lunch.
Live, Love, Eat!