Sometimes I feel that I need a bit more colour in my life.
I also need a bit more cheer as I was recently stood up for dinner. I have gone to the effort of making something worth eating at home but my guests never appeared. At this meal, I speculated with my fellow diners on what would be an appropriate excuse?
- I’m just not feeling that well;
- The dog ate my wallet; or
- Dog on fire.
I would accept the last as a fair excuse, as long as proof was provided. The rest, not so much.
Journeying into deepest, darkest Brixton on a bright, sunny day exposed me to a riotous palate. Colour was abounding around me.
Among open air butchers and fishmongers with their generally dead specimens. Interesting signage too, I think that we all need a “bigga shop” for “bigga dreams”.
Past outdoor shops promising all manner of carrying conveniences. Perhaps strategically located. Go to the fishmonger, pick up a fish, go to the butcher, pick up a chicken. Go to the luggage store, pick up a suitcase to bundle it all home.
Yet, I was on a mission and so did not let such distractions pull me off course. Instead, I continued down alleys in search of peace and food.
Arriving at Chishuru, my first thought was that it was an oasis of calm among the bustle of Brixton market. Sunlight streaming through the windows, colourful decor, interesting crockery. This is Chishuru.
I admit that my understanding of African food is rather limited, looking to my visits to Ikoyi being the last time I tried, so I approached lunch with an open mind (and mouth).
Ekuru, pumpkin seed pesto, scotch bonnet sauce. Ekuru is a meal (ground beans) and this dish was fiery. Which caught the hungriest diner unaware as he popped a substantial bite into his mouth without caution.
A cough and watering eyes showed that the Scotch bonnet was taking effect. Scotch bonnets have a Scoville heat scale of 100,000 to 350,000 Schoville heat units (SHU). By way of comparison, a Jalapeno pepper has a rating of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. Top of the rankings is the Carolina Reaper Chili Pepper with a score of 2,200,000+ SHU. Probably hot enough to burn through titanium.
Fritters, cassava, coconut & mint sauce. I loved fried potato as a child. I still love fried potato. As I grew older, I found that I came to like most fried things. This was crunchy. Filling. Messy to eat. Satisfying.
Prawns mimri oku, prawns, spicy broth, herbs. These were decent although slightly overcooked as they were sadly a bit dry. Or perhaps it was because I didn’t soak these in provided broth.
Bavette, yaji, pickled mushroom. The beef was warm. The mushrooms were not. The beef was nothing special. The mushrooms were interesting but a bit gloopy. Perhaps something to steer clear of.
Eko beans, vegetables, garri foto. This reminded me of a very good curry. Semi solid, sweet yet salty, its umami taste was excellent and I wanted to have more and more. Before I knew it, I was sadly scraping away at the bottom of the plate. This was the stand out dish of the meal and the reason to return.
Shitto fried rice, shitto, kale, chicken. This rice has an unfortunate name. Sounding sadly like a Japanese person trying to pronounce another word for poo in English. First the positives, the plantains (think that was what the yellow things were, although they were not described on the menu) were ok. Could have been charred a bit more though. Second, the chicken breast meat was sadly rather dry and lacking in flavour. Reminded me of chicken how I cook it, mindlessly cooked on a hot plate. Third, the rice didn’t really taste of that much, so I think this is something to avoid. It did not spark joy.
Ekoki, sweetcorn, lemon kale, grilled fish. I think the fish was mackerel. Which made it somewhat dryness a bit of a puzzle as this oily fish is rather forgiving on that front. The ekoki looked like couscous but tasted better than that as as the ground meal was meaty, filling and with its own distinctive flavour. The kale was somewhat a bit insipid. Then again, this is probably driven by my general dislike of that vegetable.
I want to give this place an A for presentation. Taste though is another matter. This would have been a decent deal if it was in central London. In Brixton the price of admission was a bit much for food of this quality. So unless you:
- live just around the corner;
- are starving for some eko beans; and
- aren’t that worried about value,
if someone asks you to join them at a meal and then you find out it is Chishuru. You would then be given the opportunity to put into practice something that you read here. You could make the excuse, sorry, couldn’t come, dog on fire.
A quiet eating 6.5/10.
Lunch (3 dishes) was GBP 28 excluding drinks and service.
Unit 9 Market Row, Coldharbour Ln
London SW9 8LB