Negril, Brixton Hill
Despite a legendary Caribbean heritage, I don’t find Brixton the best place to eat Caribbean food, especially in the evenings when the vans in Brixton Station Road are closed. Bamboula isn’t bad, but it doesn’t make me excited about jerk like the good stuff should. The only place that does that for dinner is Negril.
Well worth a walk up the Hill, you must remember to book as this unassuming spot gets packed out in the evenings. In summer this is partly because they have a lovely patio out front to while away a sunny evening, but mainly because Negril is simply great.
From the friendly welcoming reception when I phoned to book for a Friday night to the very end of the meal, I couldn’t fault anything about Negril. And by the look of it, the packed out patio, full restaurant and queue at the door all agreed with me. An unusual place in that it is equally good for non meat eaters and carnivores alike, Negril specialises in ital food and jerk chicken, along with many other Jamaican favourites served in healthy portions with a home made feel while feeling like a bit of a night out. It’s BYO, but also does a great selection of soft drinks and juices and doesn’t baulk at all when you ask for tap water, bringing us a jug of the stuff when we each asked for a glass. This thoughtfulness and willing got the meal off to a great start!
After checking we knew our way round the menu, our friendly and helpful waiter took our order for a half jerked chicken each with festival and coleslaw for me and plantain and rice and peas for my mum and provided glasses for our wine as the place filled up steadily and we got to listen to the world’s most irritating woman at the table next to us ponder why her date hadn’t called her again.
Before we both lost patience with her and told her the answer to her query, the food arrived and distracted us. A mound of crisp skinned flavoursome free range chicken appeared. On my plate there were two enormous pieces of festival, a dish of the best home-made coleslaw around and some rich glossy chicken gravy while my mum had heaps of fried plantain and rice and peas along with some fiery scotch bonnet sauce and barbeque sauce to accompany it.
The food was fantastic. You can really taste the difference that being free range makes to the chicken. Dark, flavoursome meat is complimented by a fantastic jerk rub filled with thyme, allspice and scotch bonnet that tingles nicely on the lips without making the eyes water. The rice and peas were subtly coconut infused and well spiced. The coleslaw is worth the trip alone and the festival made me very happy with its vanilla fragrance and crispy outer and was the perfect way to soak up the delicious gravy. The sauces tasted home-made and added a good kick if you like your chicken on the lively side.
Portions are generous, but that didn’t stop me clearing every scrap off my mine in record time because it was all just so good. My mum struggled more due to the more carb intense nature of her sides, leaving some of the plantain. Our waiter automatically offered her a doggy bag and despite every table now being full, appeared back straightaway with a cardboard carton of leftovers bagged up and ready to go. We couldn’t even think about the selection of desserts that included rum and raisin bread and butter pudding and tropical fruit salad, but lingered to finish our wine before settling the very reasonable bill.
A half chicken with two sides comes to £12.95 each which to me is great value and more worthwhile than the £22.95 sharing platter that comes with a 1/4 chicken each and a smaller, but wider variety of sides. But skip the chips and salad it offers and get stuck into the proper Jamaican offerings like the rice and peas, hardo bread or roti instead as they do them so well. They also do great sounding breakfasts at the weekend such as coconut French toast and Eggs Callaloo that I can’t wait to try.
If Negril was closer to my house, I’d be in there every week. Well cooked, good quality food delivered with friendly efficient service that manages to be helpful without being pushy and a great atmosphere, it ticks all the boxes a good neighbourhood restaurant should. Do yourself a favour and book a table immediately!
132 Brixton Hill, SW2 1RS
020 8674 8798
i think i’m going to have to take up temporary residence in brixton and eat EVERYTHING.
Yum! We went there a few months ago and at the time I was really impressed with your recommendation: good, homely cooking styles; great flavours and smiling service. The coleslaw was brilliant… and that fiery dipping sauce, despite being at he far end of my natural tolerance, was so more-able I couldn’t stop.
This is a bit of a local gem and it’s nice to be able to sit down and enjoy some Caribbean food, rather than just grabbing it from a takeaway. Wish I lived a bit closer to Brixton… but at least Manchester has some righteous alternatives when I need a dose of jerk cooking!
I’ve never really eaten much Caribbean food, certainly not enough to be able to know my way around a menu or be able to assess whether what I’m served is good or not.
Really must explore more…
I keep meaning to go here. I work opposite on Fridays and they say on their sign they are open for lunch on Fridays but they never are. Shame because they’d be making a killing out of me.
Helen, thanks for the heads up on their lack of opening hours. I had a feeling they might be slightly erratic…it’s good jerk, probably the best sit down stuff I’ve had in South London, but not as good as some of the takeaway places around. But for me, worth a trip for just the coleslaw!
Kavey, it’s the big perk of living in South London. Lots of Carribbean food and I’m starting to know my stuff better, but I’m not an expert. And I wouldn’t know anything about Turkish food as it’s not that abundant round here. Gives me an excuse to travel round!
I know absolutely nothing about Caribbean food but after reading this it sounds like I need to learn! Fulham is full of lovely posh places but there’s nothing like this…I’m jealous. Definitely worth paying a visit to Brixton very soon. Yum.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It’s been too long since I’ve been there.
I love your photos and was also pleasantly surprised to go to Negril, Brixton. The food was so good and tasted like home. I hope you’ll also comment and check out my post on the wonderful starter deal they had: http://nyamwithny.com/negrils-spicy-starters/ I want to go back now after reading your post and try the curry platter. But to be honest, I’m not over the jerk chicken, Great post by the way!