• Brixton Village Market has become the destination for budget eating in south London. • Take Time Out’s video tour of the covered market’s restaurants and cafés. • Get the details and unbiased reviews of the best places, from KaoSarn to Honest Burgers.
SW9 may now have a Starbucks, but this little coffee shop, hidden away in Brixton Village Market, continues to serve those who want to support local businesses instead. And it’s easy to see which is the more intriguing – it’s a funky, if small, space that serves Nude Espresso coffee and a range of pastries, cakes and brownies.
This family-run Thai restaurant is the most conspicious as you enter from Coldharbour Lane, as it has alfresco tables on the market’s forecourt. Mr Pee Noi and his team cook up terrific spicy Thai dishes, despite the handicap of no gas in the kitchen (it’s all done on electric cookers). Maitre d’ Giselle handles front of house. Booking essential.
This family-run café specialises in Beijing street food, from pan-fried dumplings to deep-fried vegetable dough balls. The menu is short, featuring cold dishes such as salads of seaweed with sesame, or wood ear fungus with boiled peanuts and celery.
This small Japanese café specialises in Osaka-style okonomiyaki, an iconic savoury pancake dish. Here, it's done brilliantly and served alongside a tiny but concise list of small appetisers and organic Japanese teas.
Relay Tea Room
This tea specialist also does light lunches of open sandwiches, soups and stews, but the main draws are clearly the tea blends and freshly-baked scones and cakes. The loose-leaf chai lattes are particularly brilliant, and are blended in-house.
Rosie French and Ellie Grace, the duo behind the Salad Club supperclub, have just set up a permanent café serving simple Mediterranean-styled food: wraps, salads and stews.
Brixton area guide
As the hordes of Borough Marketeers stuff their faces while standing up, above them in the elegant mezzanine Floral Hall is the more refined eating option – the staunchly British Roast, which feels like the perfect restaurant to have at the heart of London’s larder. The formal operation (precise service, gleaming tableware on white cloths) contrasts with the generally jolly crowd, who rock up for special occasions and family get-togethers in often casual clobber. It’s a very pleasant place for a long lunch or luxurious breakfast. You’d be disappointed if the roasts themselves weren’t up to scratch – but they’re among the city’s best. Free-range pork belly with apple sauce, Goosnargh chicken with bread sauce, or blackface lamb with mint relish all appear. These are bracketed with sophisticated starters (we had grilled sardines with pickled beetroot and blood orange), and grown-up versions of British puds. Visit on a Sunday, as many do, and the menu is restricted to £37.50 for three courses, which although very filling seems rather steep – indeed, prices across the board aren’t especially economical. Still, Roast is right at home amid the food-focused throng of Borough Market.
Venue says: “It’s mid-afternoon and you fancy a cuppa and a slice of cake (or four). A sandwich? A scone? Check out our afternoon tea, 3-5pm, Mon-Fri.”