Over the past year or two, Brixton in south London has emerged as a destination for foodies. Brixton Village, formerly Granville Arcade, off Coldharbour Lane has attracted restaurants and cafés serving up all manner of cuisines in an informal setting. Last year, restaurant critic Jay Rayner went as far as to say that Brixton Village was “the most exciting, radical venture on the British restaurant scene right now”.
The bar scene has always been strong in Brixton, with plenty of late-night, good-time bars, but some of the newer venues are as much about food and drink as partying. The latest bar for Craft Beer Co opened last month in Station Road, specialising in small-batch craft beers, spirits and wine, with owner Martin Hayes saying Brixton is “one of London’s most vibrant areas and now has a wonderful foodie scene in Brixton Village to rival Borough Market.”
Another venue, Market House in Coldharbour Lane, opened earlier this summer, establishing a reputation for good food and drink as well as top-quality DJs and live music. It has been created by a group of local entrepreneurs in a former Truman Brewery pub, the Coach & Horses, that was most recently incarnated as Living Bar & Club.
They have restored the late 19th-century building, revealing the original ornate façade in all its former splendour. The interior, designed in-house, is inspired by the current trend for all things vintage, with an eclectic selection of furnishings, mostly reclaimed and sourced from local markets, such as the solid-wood bar stools, chairs and tables, traditional lamp shades and classic light fittings. After the ground floor opened for drinking and dining, the upstairs has been restored and refurbished too, creating a flexible 200-capacity space.
Market House is described as an unpretentious “speakeasy” bar, diner and music hall, reflecting its shift from being a place for chilled-out eating and drinking during the daytime through to DJs and late-night partying till 4am at weekends. “With a 4am licence, we can also provide diners in Brixton Village and other sites with a great venue to carry on the party till late,” says Matt Wells, one of the team behind the venue.
The food is British classics with a twist, with an emphasis on organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. Nearly all the dishes are under £10, which Matt says is to keep it in line with the good-value pricing of the area’s restaurants. A new menu was about to be launched as Bar magazine went to press but it retains popular dishes such as a steak and the Market House Burger made from organic Hereford beef. Market House is also the first venue to offer pies from Gourmet Pies and Sides, a delivery company set up by Matt to supply pies to bars and pubs.
Alongside a wine list to complement the food, Market House’s bar has a good selection of spirits and beers, including Meantime ale and Rekorderlig on tap. There is a core list of classic cocktails, including the top-selling Mojito and Caiprinha, with new original cocktails planned.
The development of Brixton as a destination for food and drink shows no sign of diminishing. William Leigh and Scott Collins of Meat Liquor and Meat Market are about to open Wishbone in Brixton Market, a fried chicken emporium with a cocktail list by leading consultancy Soulshakers. “I felt this was an exciting area to be involved with,” says Matt at Market House. “Now, with Craft Beer Co and Scott Collins of Meat Liquor fame opening sites, it’s really put the area on the map.”
443 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8LN Tel: 020 7095 9443 www.market-house.co.uk