"Simples, Alexsandr?" In the new Shangri-La Hotel's ground floor foyer, our reservations are checked on two bit...
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Three Eight Four, Brixton
The buzz is intoxicating. Caribbean carnival colour-clash; the aroma of jerked chicken frying; unfathomable fish and strange fruit; Rusty Lee lookalikes rocking diamond inset Jamaican flag nail extensions and wild weaves; banji girls in wine ya body batty riders: in downtown Brixton, you find everything from breadfruit, bilimibi and bush meat toscratchy 45s by Beres Hammond, Black Uhuru and alleged strange fruit-hater Buju "boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head"Banton (and a bag of something for a truly wired weekend). The old market booth with its Catholic geegaws was a firm favourite of mine back in my Buffalo Boy days, when the late-great stylist Ray Petri decreed Virgin Mary key-rings and souvenirs of Lourdes dangling from your regulation MA-1 jacket were quite the ting for Uptown Top Ranking. The arrival of Franca Manca and Foxtons, of course, spelt the Beginning of The End. But for now, cherish what could be a corner of Funky Nassau before the social cleansing is complete and rudeboy Brixton's balls are chopped off. Having said this, it's rich of me to recommend still-cruddy Coldharbour Lane's latest lounge. 384 is not aimed at the area's piss-poor natty dreads. But if no neighbourhood is immune to change, then let it be populated with places like this. From the guys at Seven in Brixton Market, this raw-edged post-Apocalypse hole-up is a lesson in cool interior design on a budget (dig the old bulb bin wall lights!). At its salvaged metal bar, £6 or so buys finessed fixes such as Bombay kitchen (Ophir gin, rum, coriander, mango, mint and Tabasco served with popadom and chutney), and four in the pink - a swinging ménage that hooks up Campari and Cointreau with Amaretto and peach bitters to sexy effect. Tart’n’tide - Auchentoshan, Licor 43, Cointreau, honey and lemon served over seaweed-infused ice -drinks like a crisp autumn day by the Bute briny. Ceviche: chilli calamari; bruschetta; brisket en brioche: it's a far cry from the Brixton of my yoot. Back in the day, if someone ordered "shooters" in a bar, you'd leg it.