Daily Archives: 5 October 2011

On Location: Brixton Cornercopia (Brixton, London)

Maybe you’re totally on trend, or maybe it has passed you by, but there is not doubting that the food scene Daaahn Saaaf is kicking off, and Brixton Village is well worth visiting for foodie delights.

The Village is located in Granville Arcade, a series of covered pedestrian streets. A couple of years ago there were just one or two cafés in the middle of shops selling anything and everything, alongside a rather forlorn corner where there were always a few empty lots.

Fast forward a couple of years, and those empty spaces have been transformed into bakers, coffee shops, sweet shops, ice cream parlours and there are places selling great Thai or Italian, alongside the famous Franco Manca sourdough pizza joint.

I was down in this part of town as the London heatwave was peaking and the whole vibe was like being in the winding streets of a smart continental town, as everywhere had tables outside (well outside-inside!) and the night air was still warm. It’s all got a slight retro air (there is a vague sense of a 1950s street party about all this) but is also seems like great fun. People are eating and drinking and really enjoying what is being served up. There is a genuine feeling of something exciting happening here, and it’s great to be a part of it and to see it developing.

I’ve been here quite a few times, but I had been promised “somewhere new” for dinner by friends. In fact, I didn’t want to know – I liked the idea of the surprise. As long as it was veggie, I was willing to take a punt and to try something new. In the end, we were heading to Brixton Cornercopia. It’s a cornucopia of delights, located on a corner. Hence the name!

Now this place is tiny but very charming. And of course, the bijou proportions don’t matter when the charm spills out the door and onto the tables outside and the whole place is bright and fun – vases of flower, gingham tablecloths, pots and jars of local produce and a prancing satyr on the menu. Cornercopia is also big on produce from local growers, and my friends tell me that you can from time to time pass the door to see a sign saying “Sorry we’re closed – making jam today“. If you’re brave, this goes as far as the wine – Cornish white (!) and beer from a local micro-brewery. Aside from that, you can enjoy local fruit and veggies too.

Enough gushing. How was the food?

Well, they do what I think might be my new favourite way of going to a restaurant, where they have three things on the menu for each course, and one of them was veggie (other than desserts, of course!). Takes all the stress out of choosing. But we started off by tucking into great slabs of sourdough bread (I know you shouldn’t fill up on bread but it was so darn tasty!) and got in a bottle of Cornish wine, which was billed as “England’s answer to Sancerre”. And you know what? It was good! Never had it before, but I would go for it again quite happily.

The starter was a very simply heirloom tomato salad with a crisp crumb. One of the tastiest things you can eat – tomatoes plus a little oil, salt and pepper. Beautiful colours and fantastic flavour.

The main was a very substantial platter of roasted beetroot, roasted onions, hazelnuts, watercress and a creamy blue cheese mousse. These are all some of my favourite flavours, and it was just delicious. They’ve managed to product some fantastic vegetarian food that looks good, tastes good and is very, very substantial. I shouldn’t have eaten it all. I should have stopped half way through. But it was so easy just to pick at a little more beet, a dash of mousse, well, maybe a little more of the roasted onion…

With hunger satisfied, the show started.

No, not some strange cabaret that is laid on in some restaurants that can be amazing but often tends to tread the strange line between weird and embarrassing. For one of our group was convinced he knew the hostess. So he asked her. Reaction was muted as they tried to work out where she could be familiar from. A local cafe? The market? The lido? We concluded that they must just have seen each other around….

…then 10 minutes later, our friend was still convinced, so decided to give her another grilling. And yes, before we knew it, we were treating that strange line between weird and embarrassing after all. The thing is, I am quite keen to go back there, so I hope that there isn’t a little black mark next to my name…ah well, we will see!

After all this, it was time for a dessert. Chocolate slab with orange and pistachio, yoghurt panna cotta or a selection of British cheeses? Stuffed as we were, it was only right to try at least one of them, and the chocolate it was to be. Let’s just go for what is clearly the richest, heaviest and most decadent option, shall we?

This was sensational. The chocolate was rich and dark, avoiding being too sweet, and had a pleasant orange flavour and generous number of bright green pistachio nuts. I also appreciated that it was not served straight from the fridge – makes such a difference, as the depth of flavour really comes across so much better.

So…would I go back? it will not be a surprise to hear the answer is a resounding yes. Nice place, great food, good vibe, friendly staff. Ticks all the boxes, and located in a fun area to boot. Highly recommended if you find yourself in this part of town.

Brixton Cornercopia, No. 65, 4th Avenue, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PS. Tel: 07919 542 233. Tube: Brixton.

LondonEats locations map here.


Filed under London, On Location, Uncategorized