Hate it or love it, but the gentrification (or regeneration?) of Brixton has meant that the area in recent years has seen a splatter of high street fashion chains, coffee shops and a wave of “have-you-been-to” hit list restaurants awkwardly exist within the “old Brixton”, attracting the sort of yuppies who might have been too reluctant to eat in SW2 a few years ago. But big business aside, scratch the surface and you’ll discover that what’s going down in Brixton a’int all doom and gloom – and this enjoyable foodie jaunt with cultural guided walks company Fox and Squirrel was our opportunity to discover that and more.
Led by Lindsay Faller, an American expat who writes about food for the Brixton Blog and Bugle and who’s lived in Brixton for 12 years, the walk included a potted history of the area and visits to a range of vendors, all introducing a unique cultural aspect of Brixton. First stop was an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony on Brixton Station Road performed in a small tent filled thick with the aroma frankincense and coffee beans which were roasted right in front of us by Elsa – the co-owner of our next stop the Shawl café, where we tucked into a tear-and-share platter of Ethiopian dishes served on the tart and spongy injera bread. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ethiopian food, but this platter of lentils and stews was tasty and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s curious about this cuisine.
The next stop – and my personal highlight of the day – was a visit to Las Cafeteria around the corner on Pope’s Road, a bustling Columbia canteen, butchers and money-changing shop, rolled into the one. We managed to grab a few seats in the back before trying the mouth-watering Lechona – a popular dish of a roast pig stuffed with rice, peas, onions and spices and cooked for roughly 10 hours. And you could tell – it was so flavoursome, made even better with the homemade salsa that was placed on the table.
Our third stop on the walk was Brixton Brewery (Arch 547, Brixton Station Road), a creative company that is definitely one of trendier additions to the area. I’m more of a wine drinker myself, but it was fascinating to hear about the beer-making process (even if I didn’t take too well to the sample of pale ale I tried!). This stop was followed up by a sit-down at Fish, Wings and Tings in the revitalised Brixton Village, a Caribbean hotspot which was heaving with customers when we arrived. And it’s no wonder – the salt fish fritters and goat roti we sampled were simply delicious (especially with a bit of the signature house sauce).
As time was fast spent, we had a quick walk through one of the local shops serving all types of exotic ingredients before the walk was wrapped up with a final visit to Kaff bar on Atlantic Road, an eclectic, laidback café where artwork from local artists adorn the wall. Homemade ginger beers were eagerly washed down a platter of US Southern-inspired dishes – like the delectable soft shell crab – and it was definitely a perfect conclusion to a day of culinary, cultural delights.
The original itinerary featured gelato-making (which was unfortunately missed out), but that was only a minor blip for a day I’d highly recommend. Admittedly, it is on the pricier side for an urban adventure (£70 for 3 hours), but if you’re new to the capital, it’s also a fantastic way to get to know this evolving area a whole lot better. For more information, visit: www.foxandsquirrel.com/product/food-walk-london
To see more of our pics, visit: www.theculturalexpose.co.uk/galleries/eat-your-way-around-brixton-food-walk
Thank you to Fox and Squirrel for accommodating us!