Kricket, Brixton

Smoked aubergine and papdi from Kricket, Brixton

Spiced smoked aubergine and papdi (£5 I think)

Despite the stone-hearted developers gradually turning its most charming bits into too many Costas, Brixton is still home to a lot of lovely independent restaurants. Pop Brixton, a pile of colourful shipping containers that houses shops and food outlets, was recently opened by a team of good guys (it was commissioned by Lambeth Council and aims to support local businesses and communities) and has added a few more to the roster. Kricket seems to me to be the snap and crackle.

Bombay garlic crab from Kricket, Brixton

Bombay garlic crab (£8 I think)

Their short menu of Indian small plates (‘No curries or rice, no starters and no mains’, explained our waiter despite the fact that we were clearly a pair of people who haven’t eaten from a large plate since the dawn of Polpo) was the sort that you want to use like a bucket list of things to eat before the night is out. This was an early dinner so we had to limit ourselves to four. A dish of smoky spiced aubergine mush, labneh-type cream cheese and shards of papdi (wheat flour crackers) was a really good start – we had to ask for extra cracker scoops to stop us licking the leftovers off the plate. Samphire pakoras came in a salty, crispy tangle all drizzled with sweet date and tamarind chutney. The chilli mayonnaise dip wasn’t a bit spicy but we scraped up the lot anyway.

I have been to a lot of seaside destinations this summer and yet Kricket’s Bombay garlic crab is the best seafood I’ve eaten all year. A generous bowl of richly buttery, gently spicy crab that you will have you scooping as much as you can onto your poppadom in a blindly greedy attempt to get more than your fair share. And then a beautifully charred pair of massive lamb chops turn up, with soft, fatty edges and a perfectly pink, tender middle. Ordinarily I’m a bit of a wimp about gnawing at bones, especially on an outdoor table in broad daylight, but we tore every last fibre from them.

Lamb chops from Kricket, Brixton

Grilled lamb (£8)

The cocktail was great (SUPER boozy), the music was fun (60s pop hits), the staff were charming and the place is far more welcoming than you’d expect a shipping container to be. The only bit I could fault were the sauce-type parts – the lamb’s raita borrowed colour from its advertised smoked paprika but not flavour, and I did wonder how a chilli mayonnaise was bland even on my wimpy palate. But our meal was so fantastic that we genuinely considered whether we could come back later that evening to order the things we hadn’t tried. I don’t like Kricket, I love it.

★★★★★   £££
Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ


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