Tag Archives: Brixton Village

(Speedy) REVIEW: In defence of Speedy Noodle

After an outraged tweet by Vanessa G about our failure to review Speedy Noodle on Brixton Rd, we challenged her to rectify the wrong and tell us why she loves it so much

Speedy Noodle, which proudly dominates the space between Risky and HSBC on Brixton Rd, has long been serving the community with its extensive menu of far-Eastern cuisine.

Given that Brixton is now celebrated as a foodie haven, with restaurants, bars and delis revered by mainstream press and citizen journalists alike, why has Speedy Noodle, one of our original independent eateries been overlooked? Some might say it’s due to the bright lighting and clinical feel, some might be suspicious that anywhere so cheap could possibly hold any quality. Most, I suspect, are mere snobs who choose not the stray from the Village Tourist Trail. Yet, for those not yet initiated, it offers many virtues, albeit with a lack of shabby-chic bunting.

You enter into a vast area with on-trend communal bench style seating, enabling you to get close enough to listen to other diners’ arguments if you so wish, or to sneak into a far corner for a private discussion with your own lover.

The lighting is indeed bright and somewhat unflattering, but at least this clearly illuminates the menu – and what a vast menu it is.

While so many places now choose to restrict their meal choices to one or two offers, Speedy Noodle offers well over a hundred different dishes, most of which are served with either rice, or noodles (both arrive equally speedily). Vegetarians are well catered for, with a range of vegetable and soya-protein dishes. The restaurant is licensed although there is a good selection of non-alcoholic drink options available.

The portions are large and, quite frankly, delicious. Don’t start protesting with your MSG-related worries. Deep in your heart you know that if some tasty meals were served in a more fashionable location they would be well praised. The fact that, thanks to its convenient late opening times, Speedy Noodle is the perfect late-night eatery after a few pints should not be allowed to overshadow another fact – the food is yum.

Perhaps most importantly, in these budget-conscious times of austerity, Speedy Noodle is cheapcheapcheap, with mains around the £4 range. I would highly recommend a visit  to anyone looking for a cheap, filling and unpretentious meal in Brixton.


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‘We Love Brixton’ on Windrush Square

‘Who doesn’t love Brixton is a loser’ – epithet written on one of the 8ft letters which spelled out ‘WE LOVE BRIXTON’ on Windrush Square yesterday.


Photo by Jon Darke

Photo by Jon Darke

Decorating the letters

 Photo by Jon Darke

And people gathering to watch…

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Tomorrow: We Love Brixton – Windrush Square

As a response to the London riots, a group of Brixton residents – including several shopowners from ‘Brixton Village’/Granville Arcade – have organised a ‘We Love Brixton’ event tomorrow on Windrush Square. They are going to install ‘WE LOVE BRIXTON’ in 8ft high letters on the square, as an ‘interactive sculpture’, which people will be able to decorate on the day. There will also be a ‘Speakers Corner’ for local residents to voice their opinions and music from the youth brass band, Kinetika Bloco.

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Brixton Supper Clubs

The trend for supper clubs continues unabated in London, but Brixton was one of the first off the marks. It has a plethora of now well-established supper clubs and last summer I went to three of them.  Better late than never, here are the reviews:

Warning: supper clubbing doesn’t come cheap.

Our top pick: The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is run by Rachel Manley from her tiny flat in the centre of Brixton. It is the most unpretentious of them all. Two tables and twelve people are crammed into her kitchen, where she also prepares the food. That means you’re not just encouraged to share and chat with all the other guests – you have to. Rachel is generous with her food – you can ask for seconds and there are constant refills of coffee, tea or home-made elderflower cordial. And the food reflects that generosity. We start off with coconut toast and lime marmalade. The coconut toast is just about the Best Thing Ever, buttery, packed full of coconut and not too sweet. It’s followed by Turkish baked eggs on sourdough with sausages from Brixton farmers’ market. That might look like a small portion below, but it was plenty given how much we still had left to eat and Rachel even offered up more sausages for anyone still wanting. The brunch ended with ice cream sandwiches – again not too sweet – and a beautifully wrapped take-home gift of pistachio macaroons.

Rachel doesn’t just do breakfasts anymore either. Her suppers are £25 and her brunches are £17.50. See here for booking details and photos.












A supper club in the market: The Salad Club

Ellie Grace and Rosie French together make the Salad Club. They write a food blog of the same name, charting their experiments with food, mainly from Brixton Market. The recipes all look lovely and they deservedly won the Observer Food Monthly Best UK Food Blog award last year, but I am going to be controversial here – the food at their supper club, hosted by Cornercopia in September 2010, was not worth the £25/head we paid for it. I was a demanding customer before I’d even reached the table – I forgot that one of my guests was a vegetarian until the day before and then another guest cancelled, so I had to change my reservation. All very annoying for the supper club host who has to do everything on a tight budget and plan meticulously ahead. That said, it didn’t much change how I felt about the food. The starter, smoked haddock and sweet potato chowder, was certainly delicious – warm and hearty. But the main – rare roast beef with beetroot, horseradish and dressed rocket – was a rather dull, limp dish. The beef was a little cold and the vegetarian option merely replaced the beef with lentils, which bizarrely tasted strongly of mustard – a dish of lentils, raw beetroot and not much else. Fun. The plum, pistachio and almond tart which followed was tasty, but overall the meal just wasn’t special enough for the expense (remember that doesn’t include alcohol, because it’s BYO). I could have eaten much better at Bellantoni’s around the corner for £10 a head.

The Salad Club are now available for hire, cooking everywhere from private homes to festivals. See here for details.

Design foodie heaven: Saltoun Supper Club

Saltoun Supper Club is the big daddy of the Brixton supper clubs. It’s notoriously difficult to get a table there but it’s worth the wait just to see Arno Maasdorp’s flat. Maasdorp, the creator of Saltoun Supper Club, is a food stylist and a design obsessive. The white-washed stairs leading to the dining room are lined with well-placed objects, from brightly coloured plastic bears to a single bucket of perfectly sharpened pencils. The dining room itself is like a magic den – lit only by coloured lamps and tealights, strange objects sit artfully on the walls and a chandelier made from a branch hangs above the main table.

The food is mostly beautiful too. We started with a very simple dish – stuffed peppers and roasted beets with hummus. In fact, it seemed a little unnecessary given what was to follow. The star of the show was the next starter –  Truffle Infused Cauliflower Gnocchi with Pecorino. Then we were instructed to troop upstairs to the living room, to digest and prepare for the main course. And the living room wasn’t lacking in design novelties either:

Saltoun is different to Rachel’s Breakfast Club in that you are not especially encouraged to mix with the other guests – we remained on our table of two and even in the interval (for it was like being at a show), no-one really talked outside of their own group. Arno himself makes a real effort to chat to everyone, but it lacked the down-to-earth easiness of the Breakfast Club.

The main was Pork Fillet, Celeriac with Pea & Bean Salad. Delicious again – although the beans were on the chewy side. And then it was time for the stunning pudding – chocolate in various different guises – and a beautiful array of petit fours and fruit. Yum.

£30 a head. BYO. See here for booking details.

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Interview: Ben Kreeger, Events and Promotions at Plan B

A Plan B poster from December 2009

1. What’s your job at Plan B? What do you do day-to-day?

I am the Events & Promotions Manager at Plan B. I programme all of the events at the venue, as well as running specific in-house events. I also manage all of the marketing and promotion for the venue. On a day to day basis this includes everything from speaking to agents and building relationships with emerging artists, to attending a wide range of events throughout London and working with some of the best creatives money can buy.

2. How has Plan B been doing since it reopened last year?

Things have never been better! In the last year or so Plan B has not only regained its reputation as one of the most forward thinking venues in London (able to attract some of the biggest DJs and producers from around the world), but also has a great crowd, week in week out. I think people are pleasantly surprised when they make their first visit to the venue since the relaunch. Our focus on new music has certainly helped us, as has the resurgence of interest in Brixton as a whole. I have worked in Brixton for more than five years and projects like the redevelopment of Brixton Village and even things a little outside of the area, like Frank’s Campari Bar in Peckham, have shown just how much creativity there is here.

3. Is there a theme behind the people you choose to DJ at Plan B?

We book people we feel are doing something interesting and people with a connection to the area.

4. Do you want to promote local South London music or is your focus more on getting in big-name DJs?

A bit of both – South London has always had an incredibly rich musical heritage and these sounds have had a huge influence on the sort of music we listen to and promote. At the same time, South London is not particularly well catered for in terms of ‘big’ clubs and we feel that a lot of people have to travel to quite a long way to hear some of their favourite DJs, so we also have a keen interest in bringing people from outside the area to play here.

5. What’s thinking behind your ‘Community’ night – and why?

Proper house music has always had a home in the area, from the notorious Rooty parties run by Basement Jaxx to DJ Harvey’s now legendary sessions many many years ago, to things happening at the moment, like Andy Blakes’ World Unknown warehouse parties. The main idea behind ‘Community’ is to create a night that redefines peoples perception of what constitutes a ‘house’ night in the area – this isn’t about Ibiza anthems or about some ‘legend’ making a comback to a bunch of builders from Bromley, this is about listening to quality music with like minded local people in an environment that feels intimate. We want to bring back some of the affinity for the area that has been so strong in the past; that’s why we called it ‘Community’.

6. What has the reaction been to Community so far?

Fantastic! People seem to be getting very excited about the night (especially the Moodymann / Floating Points night on the 18th September – see below) and all of the people we have approached about playing at the night have been impressed by our vision and commitment to the project.

7. How do you view yourselves within the local community and why?

We do a lot of work with Strong Look in Brixton Village, which is run by a former employee of ours. We also spend a lot of time at Rosie’s Deli and are on first name terms with a lot of the small restaurants and bars in the area. We certainly see ourselves as part of the local community and have been championing Brixton for many years, I am not sure how local people see us, but they are always smiling when they leave here.

8. In 2007 Plan B joined the Brixton Collective and you were interviewed in ‘Time Out’ saying that it is a struggle to convince people to come to Brixton. Is that still the case?

I think things are very different these days. At the time, the area suffered from a lot of negative media attention and the two years of Victoria Line weekend closures for refurbishment work really didn’t help. But it is fantastic to see so many new things happening – from the redevelopment of the space in front of The Ritzy, to the work the police have been doing to clean up the area around the underground station. There are more creative people in the area now and a lot of opportunities for small businesses to flourish, in a way that is not possible in other areas of London – people have begun to support what they see around them, which is great. Even the old school Brixtonites have realised that they do not have to be stereotyped. We are reaching a critical mass. The troubles of the past have helped us prepare for the success of today.

9. What has been your favourite ever night at Plan B and why?

I have so many favourite nights it is hard to pick. David Rodigan’s set at the RBMA party back in February was incredible. However my favourite night was probably the after show party we did for LCD Soundsystem a few months back. James Murphy (lead singer of LCD Soundsystem) played disco records all night with Erol Alkan, and Soulwax were on the lights. It’s going to be hard to top that, although saying that I am very very excited about having Moodymann play!

10. Do you ever go partying anywhere else in Brixton?

All the time. I really like The Rest Is Noise for a pint after work and my favourite night in London is still DMZ at Mass.

'Community' at Plan B this month

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The week ahead

Top tips for this upcoming Brixton week:

All week: Take a look at the In Public’ exhibition at Photofusion Gallery. An exhibition of street photography celebrating the 10 year birthday of the In Public photography collective.

Tuesday 8: Open Mic night at Ritzy Upstairs – sing, tell jokes and perform poetry to your heart’s content. Or just listen to others do it.

Thursday 10: Late night opening at the ‘Brixton Village’ in Granville Arcade. This week’s event is hosted by the School of Everything, a website that matches people who want to learn a skill with people who can teach it. So go expand your minds – who knows, you could learn anything from karate to beekeeping. And there’s fantastic food in the various new restaurants to boot.

Friday 11: The legendary Top Cats and DJ Natty Bo return to Hootananny (and for free too)

Saturday 12: Globoloco take their world music beats to their monthly party at Mango Landin. Reggae, ska, boogaloo, Latino hiphop – it’s all there.


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The Go Game @ Brixton Market

Every Thursday, Spacemakers runs a themed ‘Night Market’ event in the Granville Arcade and some shops and restaurants stay open until 10pm. It’s proved good business, so much so that they are now campaigning for (and apparently likely to get) late opening on Saturdays and even daytime opening on Sundays.

This Thursday’s event was the ‘Go Game’ – a night of games and music around the Granville Arcade. I was pretty sceptical about the ‘Go Game’, a corporate company with over-enthusiastic employees who organise group games.  You link your internet phone up to a game that makes you do challenges around the market, such as “do five things you’ve never done before and take a photo of it”. Once we let ourselves go though, it wasn’t so bad after all.

Not a picture of us 'letting ourselves go', but rather of the super enthusiastic organisers, including a man dressed up as a cow. eek.

The best thing about the late night opening is that you can get fantastic meals on the cheap from restaurants usually only open during the day – the new pizza place in Granville Arcade, the Moroccan restaurant, Etta’s Seafood Kitchen, Bellantoni’s the Italian and Rosie’s Deli were all open.  We squeezed in at the end of one table at Cornercopia:

The sweetpea, potato and chickpea ‘Gateux’ was a little dry, but overall the food was inventive, fresh and incredibly reasonably priced. The pistachio and orange tart was especially good.

And so to the gaming. There were even makeshift games of Twister:

One group at the start of an impromptu game of Twister

@DJDanCook had organised a night of music too. “I found out about Spacemakers after I moved into the area and I approached them to organise something. My background is more electronic music and techno, but I thought I’d do something a bit different here. I’ve got a few mates who do MCing and poetry, so I got a load of people together to perform. I put some notices up on blogs and at universities and got quite a few taking part in the end.”

The final performers of the night - two hip hop MCs

As you can see, Granville Arcade wasn’t exactly heaving with excited punters, but for those who were there, it was a good thing to do of a balmy summer’s evening. We even ended up winning a free meal for two at Etta’s Seafood Kitchen … although I later found out that we only got 90 points to the overall winners’ 570.

Look here for next week’s Night Market event: a US-style block Party


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Brixton lunch: Etta’s Seafood Kitchen

The windows steam up in Etta’s Seafood Kitchen when the cafe is full. Somehow that sums up what Etta and her daughter provide in their food  – simple, gutsy and warming dishes. Fish soup, fish curry, coriander and garlic prawns, or just steamed fish, all with a Caribbean twist and sourced from Brixton Market. Not much can go wrong there. They also do wonderful fresh juices, such as ‘Etta’s Energizer’ with beetroot, carrot and ginger.  The curry could have been spicier, or more ‘curryish’ in the words of my companion, and there isn’t a huge amount of difference in flavour between each dish, but it’s all pretty damn satisfying for a Saturday lunch. And cheap too.

Prawns with rice and peas

Fish Curry

Fish Curry

Etta’s Seafood Kitchen, 85/86 Granville Arcade, Brixton


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…and the Windrush Square is open! (take two)

On Friday afternoon, a small group collected together in the middle of Windrush Square.  Guarded by a bevvy of policeman, it included Mayor of London Boris Johnson, local MP Tessa Jowell, Mayor of Lambeth Christopher Wellbelove and veterans from the Windrush. With appropriate ceremony, they ‘unveiled’ the new square (not much unveiling to do unfortunately) accompanied by the Corpus Christi School Choir.

But who was there to watch them? Well, no one really. In a bizarre move, the community opening took place today, entirely separated from the rather more elitist TfL official opening.

What happened today, though, was much more fun. A belly dancer cheered up the lunchtime crowd, Brixton Village eateries had free tasters on offer and, in the late afternoon, the hip hop beats of the Illersapians got the dancers going.

Far removed from the formalities of the day before, this was one of those days that confirms the vibrancy of Brixton’s community. Sod the square itself, it’s the Brixtonites I love. In the words of Ros Griffiths below, “it’s not the Windrush Square that makes Brixton, it’s the people that make Brixton.”

Here’s what some of the community had to say:

Richard Gascoigne, Brixton

“I certainly like the idea of it. I live just up the road, so I’ve been coming past a lot when they’ve been doing it. I’m quite excited about it opening up finally and I hope it gets used. I always think that having public spaces is a good idea full stop. It would be nice to see lots of folk hanging around. I think there need to be more chairs though!”

Ros Griffiths, Brixton Splash, Brixton

“We’re happy that it’s improved, but it’s a bit sterile, it’s not personalised to Brixton, it looks very civic. It’s going to take some getting used to. This is Brixton and the square should reflect Brixton in terms of its culture, but it is no different from what we see in City Hall. It should have been more colourful to reflect the Brixton vibe. It’s not the Windrush Square that makes Brixton, it’s the people that make Brixton.”

Herman Morgan, Streatham

“It is an improvement. It wasn’t the best place to go and chill out before…except maybe for some! The drugdealers need places to go, but I think this gives the opportunity for so many more people to use the space that it might stop that from happening again. This can only be good.”

Natasha Smith, Brixton Splash, Brixton

“From what I can remember of Windrush Square, there was always a park place in one bit and then a waterfall, which I know a lot of the children will miss. You used to see a whole lot of children in the summer time playing in there. I remember my two brothers playing in it. There is a lot missing. It does look nice, but it’s a little simple.”

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