The Prince of Wales pub, once a sticky-floored plan Z joint, has re-opened as a brasserie – and a really good one. Owners Simon Allen – Nell’s and Match in New York – and Wayne Saunders – Comedy Café Theatre in Shoreditch – have transformed it. Not into a generic fancy-pants outfit, mind. The original bar is still there, so it feels like a pub, but it has the dark wood, white walls and red leather you’d expect from a little French place round the corner. Think Balthazar on a budget. There’s a seated smoking area outside at the back, a roof garden and a club upstairs with a programme of music, comedy and dance classes. What’s more, a cocktail bar will open on the first floor next year.
The food is good old bistro fare with daily specials, and ingredients are sourced as much as possible from Brixton market. There are pizzas and slow-cook joints from the wood-fire ovens, ceviche, oysters, fishcakes and a Sunday roast. As I looked out over Coldharbour Lane, for so long the wrong side of edgy, eating courgette ribbons with feta, I thought this must finally be confirmation of the area’s affluence.
Some locals will have heard of the executive chef, Arno Maasdorp, who was poached from his supper club round the corner on Saltoun Road to create the menu. He’s done a nice job, solid French café food with subtle nods to the area’s Caribbean history. The moules frites come with plantain, for example, and the fishcakes are salt cod. But the white chocolate gun for dessert, “it’s Brixton!”,was a step too far for me.
The place will fly and is already packed on a Friday and Saturday night. What the people in the Caribbean takeout down the road would think to courgette ribbons I don’t know, but that’s le way Brixton now rolls.
by Vicky Paterson
469 Brixton Road SW9 8HH (entrance on Coldharbour Lane)
Tel: 020 7095 1978
Lunch on Sunday only