Ethiopian in Brixton, London
Just thought I'd post a quick message about a meal on Saturday. Having watched England's rather depressing performance in the footie we decided to try out an Ethiopian restaurant that I've passed often on Brixton Water Lane (just opposite the Hobgoblin pub).
I haven't tried Ethiopian food before so can't comment on authenticity. However, the people there were really helpful and sweet (we were the only people in there) and said that they're really accustomed to people who are trying this sort of food for the first time so they help you out a bit.
Anyway, we ended up getting one lamb dish which was mostly just lamb in a thin sort of broth, we also had a mild chicken thing which came in a tangy sauce with masses of onions and a boiled egg (traditional with all chicken dishes apparently). The best thing however were incredible lentils in a really dark, hot (but not burning hot) sauce. It was all served on injera - sort of sourdough, pancake/pikelet type things about the size of a big plate which you used to pick everything up (a slight challenge when it came to the boiled egg!) It was all really lovely - and perfect for a chilly, wet day. Prices were really reasonable too.
I hope that they were only so quiet because of the bizzare time of day - if you're in the area its definitely worth a visit.
I expect the chicken dish was doro wat. Picking up the egg gets easier when you see an Ethiopian eat doro wat. They just take a bare hand and bust the thing up. Being so clunky at eating with injera, I marvel when I watch Ethiopans tear, dab, scoop and come up with a great little parcel of food.
This sounds interesting. I can't find Water Lane and don't know the pubs round there. Can you give me some more directions? I would really like to try it.
BTW. Have you ever tried a hut at the top of Streatham Hill called The Goat Shack. It is the best Barbadian food I have ever had ( not that I have had a lot ) with the most wonderful curried goat, the sweetest yams and great ackee and dumplings. They also sell Guiness punch ( guiness and condensed milk ) which is just a revolting as it sounds but horrifically does grow on you. I have only ever been there on a Saturday, but don't know if it is open the rest of the time.
re: Simon Majumdar
The street name is 'Brixton Water Lane' and it runs at right angles across Effra Road - just on the Tulse Hill end of Brixton. If you're going up Effra Road from Brixton you'll see the Hobgoblin on your left, it's a massive pub set a little bit back from the road and the restaurant 'Tinkish' is just across the road from the entrance.
Haven't tried the Goat Shack, in fact, I've been a bit slack for trying out restaurants in Brixton, it sounds great though. Main places I go are Pangea for massive and really good pizzas in fairly trendy surroundings - it's under the arches Atlantic Road just near the stairs to the BR station. Also tried Helter Skelter the other night, (on Atlantic Road too) which is a bit more upscale (such a handy word!) - items on the menu seem to be derived from all sorts of cuisine influenced, I had duck and waterchestnut gyoza followed by really delicious veggie burritos (sounds a bit odd I know). Friends had really good mains as well, a fantastic lamb dish and some great guineafowl sausages.
As for that Guinness stuff - I can hardly bear to think about it after an over-enthusiastic introduction to it at Notting Hill Carnival a couple of years ago!
Brixton is never one of those places I go to eat really unless it is something interesting like the Ethiopian. I still miss that great little place 20 Trinity Gardens which was around when I lived that way in the early 90's.
I do love the market though which is a great source of all things West Indian. I found some incredible Ginger Beer there a few months back and a fish, new to me, called Travelly Jack, which was a bit snapper like in texture but stood up to flash roasting and sprinkling with lime. Fabulous.
If Howler reads this. I think this is one area where London really does outshine NYC. The markets seem less homogenised than they do in NY. I guess I may not have seen the best in the outer boro's but in Manhattan, the close proximity of everything means that over the last few years I have noticed the same sort of things at each market. One of the few benefits of a really sprawling city and a failure ( if that is the right word ) to integrate is the retention of racial and culinary distinction so you have the Greek and Turkish areas of North London, The Jewish areas of Golders Green, The Arabic areas of Edgware road etc.
I am sure I will be put right on this and would love to know where to go next trip to NY.
re: Simon Majumdar
"I guess I may not have seen the best in the outer boro's but in Manhattan, the close proximity of everything means that over the last few years I have noticed the same sort of things at each market."
simon, an e-mail address for me is
if you give me your snail-mail, i'll gladly send you a copy (via amazon) of jim's book 'eclectic gourmet guide to greater new york city'. that book will show you why i sound so deprived here in london .. of course, there are things in there that are out of date, but once you hone in on an area/cuisine of interest, the search engine here will rapidly bring you up to date. or just ask.
just a brief year and a half or so ago i was sick and tired of everything manhattan had to offer - waaay too many boring corporate dinners at fancy restaurants. the outer boros were for the airports and jackson heights in queens; i had never even driven into new jersey. one fine day i stumbled onto 'eclectic ... ' in the borders on 57th and park, and my life was changed ..
let me know if and when you do send an e-mail, as i rarely check that address.