These days, quality eateries seem to open in Brixton Village at a rate of knots, with the likes of homely West African Chishuru, Japanese handroll bar Temaki and pimped-up kebab purveyors Le Bab, among others, all having set up shop there recently. And as of this summer, you can add to that list French-inspired bistro and wine bar Bottle and Rye.
This new addition to hospitality power couple Robin and Sarah Gill's stable (the pair are behind the likes of Bermondsey Larder and the brilliant Rye by the Water Bakery in Brentford) comes in the form of a Parisian-style café, with walnut furniture, a marble-topped bar and wine glasses ready to be filled on every table. It's effortlessly chic (mais, oui!) but still a casual affair – stop by for a swift drink, a long lunch or dinner, or for brunch on weekends, when they serve coffee and oozy eggs with flat iron steak.
Visiting for dinner on a balmy mid-week evening, the food menu was chalked up on a blackboard and featured a seasonally-led selection of French-ish sharing plates.
From the top half of the board, a blush-coloured pig terrine was meaty, woven with jelly and perfectly seasoned. Piled on top were dinky ringlets of pickled onion and cornichons, adding delightful, wince-worthy sharpness to every porky mouthful.
Then there were the Cantabrian anchovies on toast, which I'm boldly stating are the best thing I've eaten this year. Sod it, let's say since lockdown, even. Deep-red, finger-length anchovy fillets were laid across a square of just-toasted and enthusiastically buttered white bread (baked at Rye by the Water, natch), and then brushed with a light honey glaze. Each bite was warm, pillowy, moist from pools of melted butter and slapped with the trifecta of salt, sweet and intense umami. Having devoured one portion at the start of the meal, I ordered another alongside dessert to be sure the whole thing wasn't a dream.
A dish of barbecued lamb rump had the tough job of following such a high, but it was melt-in-the-mouth, as was the pile of silky aubergine and pepper wilted in sherry vinegar that it sat upon. My only gripe was that the wasn't enough of it. Four medallion-sized slices of meat fanned across a cereal bowl of veggies seemed a little stingy for its £18 price tag.
That said, it is wise to save room for pud here. The gooseberry and mirabelle plum eclair, which featured light-as-air choux pastry and zingy fruit cream, was the quintessence of French patisserie.
The line-up of natural wine here is diverse and has been hand-picked from all over Europe. If, like me, you're no Jilly Goolden, ask the chipper waitstaff to recommend a pour based on the dishes you're ordering. Just do yourself a favour and get a bucket-load of those anchovies on toast, yeah...
The vibe Parisian café vibes arrive in SW9.
The food Contemporary takes on some French classics along with other Med-inspired dishes – all primed for sharing.
The drink A varied selection of European natural wine plus a handful of punchy cocktails.
Time Out tip Try and grab a table in one of the windows overlooking Coldharbour Lane. It's the ultimate wine-drinking, people-watching spot.