Saturday, April 16, 2011

Best bets in Brixton for a lazy day out

OK, so the Rest Is Noise might have shut up shop, and you might get harassed by the halal butchers’ creepy spruikers every time you walk through the market (if you’re a lady, that is), but there’s no reason to avoid Brixton on your next hot date. It’s lovely this time of year when blue skies and high-teen temperatures are semi-regular novelties, especially on a Saturday afternoon when Brixton Village is in full swing. The hipsters haven’t ruined it yet (RIP, The Rest Is Noise) and £15 will well cover a foodie’s day out with a difference.

Red Stripe
It’s no time for warm ales and uncarbonated ciders as the muggy summer months approach; it’s all about ice-cold lager straight from the can. Given Brixton’s significance as London’s Caribbean heartland, what could be more appropriate than a plastic bag full of Red Stripes? We justify the placcy bag as a nod to the ‘hood’s ghetto origins, but who’s going to argue with ghetto prices (if you’re lucky you’ll score six for £5)? That’s your pre-d’s, dinner and evening drinks taken care of, right there.

Kaosan, Brixton Village
Holy shitake mushrooms, could the jewel in Brixton’s crown get any better?! Evidently, YES, with the opening of family-run Thai restaurant Kaosan (it’s on the right at the Coldharbour Lane entrance to Brixton Village). Visit #2, the Friday before last, was met with a 15-minute wait for a table (boo – the secret’s out!) and a certain south London food reviewer looking pretty impressed with his order (a tweet’s ok, but please – no Observer review).

The so-homemade-it’s-not-funny poh pia tod (vegetarian spring rolls , £3.90) and geaw tod (deep-fried pork and prawn filo parcels, £3.90) make deep frying seem nutritious. Gang keaw warn gai (green chicken curry, £6.90 with rice) and penang gai (red chicken curry, £6.90 with rice) proved to be equally impressive with tofu, and best when ordered “spicy hot, not English hot” (FYI, this didn’t mean retardedly Thai hot). Kouy tiew tom yum Bangkok style (£6.90, pictured above) was a tom yum on ‘roids, with fish balls, minced pork, and topped with two of the most perfectly battered king prawns ever tasted. A starter and two mains should set you back about £17 and, with no corkage or service charge, it’s well deserving of a fat tip with your “kop khun ka”.

Ms Cupcake
Moseying down Coldharbour Lane you’ll stumble on the fairy godmother of London fussy/ethical foodies, super baker Ms Cupcake. Some say the greatest accolade for vegan food is when you can’t tell the difference. We say it’s when you want a picture of the colorful confections (£2 each) tattooed on your bicep after you’ve woken up from the diabetic coma. Don’t play safe with a plain chocolate or vanilla – although they’re great – try the Cherry Bakewell (almond cake and amaretto frosting), the banoffee or the pina colada (complete with cocktail umbrella).

Stockwell Skate Park
Unless you want to trek to Brockwell Park or Clapham Common - no - get to the skate park next to Brixton Academy for a patch of grass in the sun to devour your take away cupcake (pictured above). On a sunny afternoon this is where all the cool kids hang with their ciders and skate gear, and Sunday mornings are primo for perving on hot dads teaching their toddlers how to kick flip on south London’s best bowls. Technically it's a park - there is some grass there - but thankfully you won't be subjected to middle-aged dudes playing rounders in their unmentionables (if that's more your bag, head to Clapham or Battersea Park). If you’re lucky you might even see some London Rollergirls practicing their lateral skating.

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