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Apr 1, 2010 04:00 AM

Some places in Brixton Village market, London

Let's get one thing straight - Brixton Village Market is the other covered market in Brixton, the one that doesn't contain Franco Manca. And it's been the subject of some regeneration projects recently, which has garnered forth a plethora of interesting new places to eat (lunchtimes only).

Yesterday I tried the pasta at Bellatonis, a tiny café run by a bonafide Italian (Dario), who makes all his own pasta, Italian preserves, cakes and bread. The choice is limited - yesterday he was doing a vegetable lasagne and a pasta bake with mushrooms, potatoes and scamorza. But he makes the pasta himself on the premises (you can buy it to take away as well) and it's a bargain at only £4.50, including salad, bread and water. You can also get an antipasto plate of Italian cheeses and home-made pickles, which we didn't try.

I had the pasta bake and it was delicious on a cold day - the pasta perfectly al-dente, the sauce unctuous and rich with plenty of shitake and oyster mushrooms (porcini being out of season). Really gorgeous. Nice bread too - homemade raisin bread and I bought some of his rosemary and thyme bread to take away for a bargainous pound. Highly recommended.

Afterwards, we popped round the corner to Federation Coffee for the best latte I've had in some time. It's run by Kiwis (of course) and the coffee was outstanding - an expresso blend that was rich and slightly fruity. They also do a flat white, and some nice looking cakes, which I was too full for.

Other places that have opened which I haven't tried yet:

Etta's Seafood Kitchen - Caribbean
The Islander's Kitchen - Filippino (rated by the guys in Federation Coffee)
Cornucopia - sells homemade preserves and jams made by locals, and soup etc. Does a three-course lunch for a tenner on a Saturday
A Moroccan place which I can't remember the name of
A Colombian place (I think) which I also can't remember the name of

Existing places:
Punta e como - rib-sticking Colombian fare which is too heavy for me but J Fores likes it
D's Roti Hut - I had a good chicken curry and exceptional roti from here a couple of months ago
Take Two - Carribean food again - the jerk chicken isn't bad

Places to buy food:
Colombian butcher - sells outstanding fresh chorizo and a good place to buy all things porky, including offal.
Fish - there are two fish places. I rate the one near the Colombian butcher, which is good value and has been there for forty years or more
There are also a few places to buy African ingredients, some vegetable stalls and an African/French market which is where I buy my fruit cordials and dijon mustard!

It's all pretty quiet during the week, but on a Saturday the place is buzzing, as there are lots of art/community projects going on at the moment, as part of the regeneration effort, run by these people:

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  1. Thanks for the awesome post, -- have to try them soon!

    1. Brixton is becoming more and more of a creative hub - some of the new clothes/food shops look really interesting. Funnily enough, I was roped into watching a a very bizarre but enjoyable play in one of the disused shops .

      On the food front, I've tried Etta's seafood kitchen which wasn't bad. I had the mackeral run down which was promising, but I've had better, maybe they need to find their feet. I must try Islander Kitchen though.

      Coma y punto always delivers and the price is great too!

      I'm so over Franco Manca; the queues are just ridiculous!

      But, I still love Brixton!

      12 Replies
      1. re: Nii

        Franco Manca is fine during the week, if you're local and work odd hours, like me. On a Saturday, forget it.

        I might try Islander's Kitchen today - watch this space!

        1. re: greedygirl

          Just had lunch at Islander's Kitchen and it was a wonderful experience. I chose a Good Friday special of udon noodle soup with cod balls. The broth was delicately flavoured and obviously home-made, the noodles thick and slippery, and the cod balls pleasingly gelatinous and subtle. It was a delicious, soothing lunch on a pretty crappy, windy and cold Spring day.

          But the best thing of all was the proprietress and cook, Margareta. Rarely have I experienced such genuine warmth and friendliness in a café. She brought me some warm bread and butter while I was waiting, and then a free snack of aubergine fritters to try after I'd eaten my soup. The fritters had been made early this morning and reheated, and so weren't at their best (as she said herself, they're best when freshly made and crispy), but they were still tasty.

          I can't wait to go back and try some of the other dishes - especially the chicken adobo and the coconut and lime chicken (I think) which is her speciality.

          1. re: greedygirl

            Tried some more stuff at Islander's Kitchen and it was very tasty indeed. We started with plantain rolls stuffed with spinach - delicious, then I had lemon and lime chicken which was pieces of marinated chicken in a fragrant coconut sauce with coriander and a hint of chilli. Not spicy really, but lovely and a generous portion. Came with rice and a cucumber salad. My friend is a vegetarian and she had a Filippino veggie stew with rice which she loved. With a peppermint tea for me and freshly squeezed orange juice for her it came to less than £15 (I think she gave us a special price for being regulars - I've only been once)! Plus Margarita the super charming owner took my friend's baby for a walk so she could eat her lunch. I love this place.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Sounds good. Does this and the other places have places to sit 'outside' the restaurant? Not for smoking purposes, but for canine companions.

              1. re: cathodetube

                The whole place is outdoors, really, and I don't think dogs are a problem.

            2. re: greedygirl

              Visted Islander's Kitchen yesterday and it was lovely! I felt transported away from London. You are right about Margareta. So friendly. I had the aubergine fritters to start - they were freshly made - alonside a dish of chopped tomatoes as a dip for them. Had the vegetarian stew with some fried rice with beans - very tasty with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Miniscule bill - about £7.50. Cornercopia had already closed but it looked intriguing. Checked out the other places like the Columbian near the beginning of the market next to the roti place but wasn't in the mood for beef as I had had some Meatwagon hamburgers on Friday. I also tried one piece of the Agile Rabbit pizza on my way out which had a topping of rocket, onion and tomato. Very thin and crispy. Looking forward to going back soon. BTW Islander's Kitchen is open every day except Sunday I was told. Saturday she closes about 8 pm.

          2. re: Nii

            Franco Manca had zero queues today at 3 pm. Quite a few tables were free. I took advantage.

            1. re: cathodetube

              we must have missed each other by half an hour

              1. re: cathodetube

                Just to clarify as Chowhound's timezone/timestamps can be a bit confusing, but by "today" did you mean you went to Franco Manca on Sunday?

                I ask because Franco Manca's website still shows it's Mon-Sat only and the earlier Sunday comments seem to refer only to the Brixton Village market.

                1. re: deansa

                  Franco Manca's open on Sundays now. A lot of people are unaware of the fact - hence the lack of queues.

                  1. re: deansa

                    Yes, I did mean Sunday. Yesterday. Not everything was open. Islander's Kitchen wasn't, Rosie's wasn't nor was Curry Ono.

                    1. re: cathodetube

                      Rosie's was open today and was told by Islander's Kitchen that they aren't open every Sunday as the owner has a private dining room somewhere in Westminster she sometimes has to be at. Curry Ono closed as I said below. Bellatoni's was open, but wasn't last week. Definitely plan on trying them next time.

              2. Where exactly is this other market? Was there yesterday and saw Franco Manca and the bit where Rosie's Cafe is.

                6 Replies
                1. re: cathodetube

                  Franco Manca and Rosies is in the same bit of the market.

                  To get to the other market, turn right out of Brixton tube, then right again down Atlantic Road. Walk down Atlantic Rd, past the crossroad with Electric Avenue (outdoor market) and there is an entrance on your left to Brixton Village. It's basically across the road from the covered market where Franco Manca is.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    I had a wander round yesterday. Wasn't hungry but I picked up a really fantastic cappuccino at Federation. Will definitely go back and try out a few places when I'm looking to eat.

                    1. re: Sharmila

                      The coffee there is fabulous - I'm developing something of an addiction!

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        i miss Brixton!!! some great stuff happening there since i left, it seems.... especially missing the sourdough bread from Wild Caper.

                        1. re: foreignmuck

                          I had a takeaway brownie from there (Wild Caper) on Friday but only got round to eating it yesterday. Absolutely delicious. Very fudgey inside, even after 3 days, and slightly cracked shiny top. Was really delighted with it. Did have nuts which I think were walnuts.

                      2. re: Sharmila

                        The cakes are good too - I just had a bite of my friend's chocolate brownie which was excellent.

                  2. where is federation? Found all the others (closed, was there early), but could not find what I really wanted, coffee. Pray tell.

                    2 Replies
                    1. Tried out Cornercopia for lunch today and was very impressed. There wasn't much choice because he'd been really busy the previous evening (the market is now open on Thursday evenings). I had a pork and fennel meatball (prettty big - the size of a small fist) served on flatbread with slow-roasted tomatoes. Very nice indeed and a bargain at £4.50. He makes everything himself in a pretty tiny kitchen, including cakes, chutneys, cordials, pickles, ketchup. The other options were fresh pea and mint soup and socca (chickpea pancake) with black-eyed beans.

                      On Saturdays he does three courses for £12 for lunch, which is sensational value for what is, essentially, very good home-style cooking. You can BYO. Recommended.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Have been to Cornercopia twice more and continue to be impressed. Had a delicious tomato and cannellini bean soup yesterday that was just an explosion of flavour. Also a savoury goat's cheesecake with aubergine. The bill came to £15.50 for two for two courses each (without tip).

                        There's not much choice, but the food here is stunningly good.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          i had lunch here today - i had the mushroom frittata and my friend had a tomato pasta dish. pistachio and pear tart and a bitter chocolate cake for pudding.

                          all really lovely, thanks for the tip greedy girl.