Having travelled to London for the purpose of meeting friends, Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore something a little more difficult to find in my native Manchester. Consulting with a good friend, we decided on exploring options for Lunch in Brixton prior to a long journey home. It didn’t take us long to come across Negril, a charmingly simple restaurant on Brixton Road.
Bright and warm on a cold winter morning, Negril opened at midday on a Sunday – shortly after our discovery. With the choice of indoor or outdoor seating, we took our place as first customers of the day in a quiet corner.
Negril has in my view, an interesting layout. From our table we had a full view of a simple bar and staff breakout area in which our hosts would sit after preparing our meal. Giving us a full view of the interactions between staff members coming in an out of the kitchen. Whilst this was certainly different, there’s something to be said for being in a quiet restaurant and being able to see the staff joking, chatting and enjoying their jobs. Even with no other customers this early, the staff and our proximity to them created a warm, friendly and enthusiastic environment to dine in.
The menu was full to the brim with comforting, hearty Jamaican food and we each ordered something different. To start, two members of our party began with a side of barbeque ribs (£5.95) that were served in a bowl full of sauce. Let me emphasize here, these ribs were not simply glazed or sauced, they came in a bowl of the stuff. Able to smell them from across the room, I knew I was in for a treat. Succulent, soft, sweet, as ribs should be – it still took me until my second rib to pin down exactly what was so different about these tender little morsels. It was Clove. A clove. A revelation, and something I’d consider for any Winter Ribs going forwards.
Mains were served next, with one member of the party ordering a larger bowl of the ribs (£9.95) for their main course, I chose the Calypso Chicken Burger (£10.95). Advertised as Jerk Breast Fillet with grilled sweet peppers, lettuce and mayo I was initially disappointed at thinly sliced chicken breast that gave the meal more the texture of a sandwich than the full breasted burger I was expecting. However, my misgivings soon vanished as the full flavour of the peppers came through, mingling with the jerk seasoning to create a strong, sweet mixture that satisfied.
The Curried Goat (£10.95) with Rice and Peas (£4.50) looked and smelt as good as expected. Ordered by a first timer to the dish it left no complaints and a satisfied smile. Unfortunately, it was the only dish I didn’t manage to sample. A testament to the team at Negril.
To my left sat a dish of Ackee and Saltfish (£9.95), and Plantain Wedges (£4.25). Salted Cod, sautéed with Jamaican fruit Ackee, thyme and peppers – this mixture looked and smelled divine. A bright yellow colour, it resembled some fish curries in appearance and held as much flavour sans the chilli kick.
Drinks came in the form of cocktails, prepared at the little bar mentioned earlier. A selection of Guinness Punch for the ladies, with a Dark and Stormy for myself left us immensely satisfied. Generous servings of alcohol in each left us with no doubts, Negril wants you to leave happy.
A thoroughly welcoming environment, wholesome food cooked with heart and soul and great company made our visit to Negril one to remember and Barbeque sauce heavy on the cloves made me reconsider the limits of what one could do with the dish.
Rating: 4/5 – one to pull out of the hat in Brixton!