South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop review: Be naughty AND nice at south London’s festive playground
When it comes to a festive pop-up, the thought of standing outside can dampen even the most Christmassy of spirits. While rooftop venues are all the rage right now, our unpredictable London weather can make them more miss than hit at this time of year. However, summer destination Brixton Rooftop has had a winter makeover, bringing all the fun undercover in a cosy, heated environment. Taking over the rooftop this season is the South Pole Saloon, providing food, booze and entertainment.
I went along to the launch last week and was initially struck by how big it was, and also how cosy and warm it is. The venue has been transformed into a winter wonderland, with fir trees, twinkling lights and tinsel. Upon arrival, you are greeted by rows of picnic seating with the main bar and small stage behind. To the right, was the street food market, private candy caner cabins, themed VIP rooms and the nightclub in the saloon bar. Adding to the festive spirit were gangs of candy caner girls and naughty elves, providing plenty of material for some Christmas Instagram poses.
The three on-site bars offer a wide range of premium draft and bottled beers, typical spirits and the winter warmer cocktail menu. Among the original creations on offer were The Snow Globe (Spiced Bacardi Rum, Ginger Beer, Angostura, Coconut Syrup, topped with Cocoa Powder) and Santa’s Tart (Bacardi 8YO, Cherry Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup and Lime Juice). We were in the mood for mixing it up so tried the delicious Snow Globe, before moving on to Prosecco. Pretty much whatever your tipple is, you’ll be easily catered for.
With all the booze flowing, there’s plenty of opportunities to line your stomachs at the street food market, featuring The Lambassadors, Fancy Funkin Chicken, Vudu Food and Mac To The Future serving up. My friend and I ordered the classic ‘DeLorean’ mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of spinach from Mac To The Future which was absolutely delicious. Fortunately there was plenty of seating around so we grabbed a table with our drinks and grub and were entertained by the brilliant live music on the bar stage. Late night revellers can head to the saloon nightclub for a host of DJs and club nights performing until 2am over the next month, with Cirque Du Soul, The Doctor’s Orders, Applebum, For The Love Of Garage among the hosts.
Overall, it’s a great winter venue that would make a perfect meeting place for Christmas drinks with pals. What’s great about South Pole Saloon is that there will always be something different. The food traders create special dishes every week to follow the weekly food theme, while supper clubs will also be visiting. Among the events taking place will be cheese nights, bottomless brunches, burlesque shows and shared Christmas party nights, which caters for work or friends’ parties. I’ll definitely be heading back for a festive knees-up.
- South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop. Open from 23 November 2017 – 1 January 2018. Opening Hours: Thur: 5pm-12am, Fri: 5pm-2am, Sat: 4pm-2am. South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop, Pope’s Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Rooftop website.
As the weather gets warmer and the nights get brighter, there’s not much better places to be in London than a rooftop bar. This summer, city slickers will be able to enjoy a slice of Cuba at Brixton Beach. The open-air hotspot comes from the award-winning team behind South Pole Saloon, Big Apple Brixton and last year’s popular Brixton Beach Boulevard. Londoners can step away from city life for a few hours as they are transported to a tropical paradise with plenty of food, drink and entertainment.
Revellers will be entertained by a series of events and experiences, including day or night parties, DJs, film and beach barbeques. As you would expect, the bar will be serving up a plethora of tropical concotions with a Cuban-inspired menu. Expect to sip on classics including Rum Daiquiris, Piña Coladas, Cubanitos and Mojitos from Bacardi while you inhale the scents of mint and other hanging, fresh and fruity foliage. While fans of Jamaican beer will be able to visit the dedicated Red Stripe bar, others can quaff Argentine sparkling wine from Moët Hennessy at their exclusive beach side lounge bar. As the nights draw in, guests can dance the night away at The Clubhouse – a covered area inspired by iconic venues such as La Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio, which will play host to live music, dancers and cabaret performers.
When revellers are feeling peckish, there will be a choice of street food stalls, including Mac and Cheese experts, Mac to the Future, Nanban’s Japanese soul food, Del 74’s Mexican tacos and STAKEhaus. There will also be weekly BBQ pop-up residencies from some of the capital’s most smoking venues every Thursday, such as Mama’s Jerk and Negril.
Every weekend there will be a beach party with entertainment from a range of genres by live DJs, traditional Latin American brass bands and exciting cabaret performances. This summer’s line-up includes Ben Pearce, Norman Jay MBE, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Maxxi Soundsystem, Paul Woolford and PBR Streetgang. Meanwhile, Sunday Sessions will be hosted by the likes of SolidGrooves, Metalheadz, Midnight Riot and Supa Dupa Fly. In July, the Brixton Beach will be hosting Cuba’s biggest holiday, Carnival de Cuba, with their Beach Carnival, featuring Cuban dancers and afro-Cuban drum music.
- Brixton Beach, Pope’s Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. Brixton Beach opens for the summer from 26 May to 1 October 2017. Open Thu: 6pm-11pm, Fri: 6pm-12am, Sat 2pm-12am, Sun 2pm-11pm. For more information, visit the Brixton Rooftop website.
Opening in Brixton this month is the latest branch of Latin-themed bar and restaurant Barrio. Following on from their venues in Soho, Shoreditch and Islington, this is Barrio’s first venture south of the river. I’ve previously visited the central and northern branches and was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of the Brixton outpost last week.
Barrio is a late-night drinking and dining destination offering Latin American food and drinks. Any Spanish-speakers may be familiar with the word ‘barrio’, which means an urban community or district. With this in mind, the Barrio bars give a flavour of South America with lots of colours, the rich flavours and a friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Like its sister venues, Barrio is a vivacious venue with its multi-coloured interior luring you in. A popular place to sit will no doubt be the converted caravan with its incorporated seats and tables, while there will be an outdoor patio during the warmer summer months.
Upon arrival, we grabbed one of the tables by the bar and perused the cocktail menu, with tequila, pisco and rum some of the dominant ingredients. We started off with the Che Guava (Santa Teresa Rum, Vida Mezcal, Guava, Passion Fruit and Lime), a sharp, refreshing and fruity concoction. I then switched things up and tried a gin cocktail – the South Sea Sour (Beefeater Gin, Cointreau, Pineapple, Grenadine, Lemon and Bitters). Despite the multiple alcohol ingredients, it didn’t actually taste half as boozy as I expected with the different flavours really complementing each other.
The food menu features highlights from Latin American cuisine, including Peruvian and Mexican, among others. My friend really enjoyed the Lima Lickin’ Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries (marinated fried chicken with lemon popcorn and panca chili dip). I ordered one of my favourite Latin dishes from Peru – the Ceviche Amarillo (Cobia white fish, Aji Amarillo Tigers Milk, Avocado, Red Onion, Coriander and Chifles Plantain Chips), which tasted delicious, incredibly fresh and was a perfect sized portion to accompany cocktails.
Overall, Barrio Brixton is good addition to the area’s nightlife. The bar is fresh, energetic and warm with a variety of flavoursome food and drink to keep revellers interested. After being a frequent visitor to the Soho branch in recent years, I’m thrilled there’s one closer to my home.
- Barrio, 30 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5SG. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Barrio website.
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I’d been hearing great buzz about long-term pop-up Beehive Place for a while and last month I finally got a chance to sample their culinary creations. Located in a former Victorian hayloft in Brixton Market, Beehive Place is a collaboration between Chef Sam Hodges and Restaurateur Theo Cooper (Chateau Marmot). The menu changes every week and uses sourced, seasonal ingredients from farmers and foragers.
A friend and I paid a visit on a Saturday night and it was a full house. We arrived half an hour before our seating and the bar area was already buzzing with customers sampling the unique cocktail menu. We took our seats on one of the large shared table and started with ‘Apearatif’ cocktails (Beehive honey, pear and raspberry purée, Beehive rhubarb gin, fresh mint spirit and sparkling wine), which was juicy and refreshing. Aside from their cocktails, there is also the opportunity to have your wines matched to your courses should you wish.
Each table was assigned a waiter/waitress, who went beyond the usual job description and took us on a culinary journey through our courses. Our waitress was friendly, attentive and incredibly passionate about the dishes, ingredients and where they came from which was great to hear. As both my friend and I are pescetarians (which we warned Beehive about in advance), the kitchen had made an alternative menu for us from the five-courses detailed on our tables.
To start, we had a radish salad topped with ‘Potash Farm’ walnuts (without the Longhorn topside meat option), which was a light, but flavoursome dish. Next up was Isle of Man scallops and foraged sea aster, two rare food options. The scallops were the smallest I’ve ever seen, but were sweet and delicious, while the aster was an unusual taste, but really enjoyable and overall, my favourite dish of the night. The third course was a new adventure for me as it was my first time eating goose egg. The ‘Clarence Court’ egg was served with ‘A.E. Brown’ asparagus on a bed of rye. My friend and I commented how easy it was to cut and eat the asparagus. The creaminess of the egg really complemented the crunch of the rye underneath.
Our penultimate course before dessert was the very unusual ‘Chicken Of The Woods’ mushrooms, served with broad beans on sourdough bread (Meat option being ‘Capestone’ rock hen, beans, black garlic, Jersey royals and wild sweet cicely). The Chicken Of The Woods were certainly, for me, the most adventurous ingredient on the menu. My friend and I debated what they looked like (I thought halloumi). I found the texture and taste very different from usual mushrooms, but the slight sweetness was really tasty. Finally, we got our sugar hit with ‘Jewel’ raspberry ice cream, served in a ‘Sharpam Park’ spelt bun. It was a petite serving, but perfect after four courses and a quaint way to serve ice cream.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Beehive Place experience. There was a relaxed and warm atmosphere and the time whizzed by as we chatted over our meal. The staff was exceptional and their enthusiasm for the food really showed. Being introduced to so many ingredients I had never heard of before meant we were really taken on a culinary journey. Beehive Place is only in Brixton until the end of June, so book a table while you can. There’s also a late night bar open on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to head down for a drink and a boogie.
- Beehive Place, 11 Beehive Place, Brixton, SW9 7QR. Nearest train/tube: Brixton. Tel: 020 7206 2376. Open Friday and Saturday nights (and some Thursdays) from 7pm. Only booking until 27 June 2015. Five course tasting menu £35, booked in advance. Limited space in bar from 7pm, full capacity with DJs from 10pm. For more information and booking, visit Beehive Place’s website.
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As you may have heard, Brixton is one of London’s new culinary hotspots with an ever emerging dining and nightlife scene. One such venue making waves in recent months has been the pop-up restaurant and bar Beehive Place, which has just extended its residency through until the end of June.
Having opened last November, this long-term pop-up has won over foodies with its ever-changing menu using seasonal ingredients. Beehive Place is a collaboration between Chef Sam Hodges and Restaurateur Theo Cooper, who founded roaming restaurant concept Chateau Marmot with his wife Danielle Treanor three years ago. Running the kitchen in the beautiful former Victorian hayloft in Brixton Market is Chef Sam (St John/Soho House) and his team. With Spring in full swing, they’ll be sourcing fresh ingredients from around the country, including asparagus, foraged leaves, nuts and flowers, heritage tomatoes as well as lamb and other sustainable and rare breed meats, fish and seafood.
Each week, diners will have the chance to go on a culinary adventure with the £35 five-course tasting menu, which changes weekly. And for those without appetites, the accompanying bar features its own bespoke ‘shrubbery’ of creative, unique cocktails created by mixologists Kevin Darcy (The Burlington Club/Platterform) and Jeff Stuit (Gordon Ramsey/Viajante). DJs will take to the decks later on Friday and Saturday nights for those who want to make a night of it. With Beehive Place only on for a few weeks, we highly recommend you book a spot before it’s too late.
For a review of Beehive Place, click here.
- Beehive Place, 11 Beehive Place, Brixton, SW9 7QR. Nearest train/tube: Brixton. Tel: 020 7206 2376. Open Friday and Saturday nights (and some Thursdays) from 7pm. Five course tasting menu £35, booked in advance. Limited space in bar from 7pm, full capacity with DJs from 10pm. For more information and booking, visit Beehive Place’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Or for Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Move over supperclubs and pop-ups – there’s a new culinary experience on the block… dining in a prison. Following the success of The Clink restaurants in HMP High Down and HMP Cardiff, London is set to get its first prison restaurant staffed by prisoners. Brixton Prison is opening its own branch of The Clink on Thursday 27 February 2014.
The concept of The Clink is to help rehabilitate prisoners and give them some skills and training to utilise when they return to society following their release. The scheme also attempts to bring down re-offending rates. The Clink trains 24 prisoners – who are approaching the end of their sentences – every year, who leave with culinary qualifications.
Of course, dining in a prison means diners will be subject to security checks, so it is advised to arrive earlier than your booking to give yourself time to go through all the necessary procedure. Phones and cameras are not allowed so unfortunately there will be no gastroporn to post on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
- The Clink restaurant in located at Brixton Prison, Jebb Avenue, Brixton, SW2 5XF. Reservation times: Breakfast 7.15-9.15am. Lunch 12noon and 12.30pm. Open Monday to Fridays only. For more information and booking, visit The Clink website.
To check out Metro Girl’s restaurant and bar reviews, click here.
I’ve been hearing good things about Honest Burgers in Brixton Village for quite some time. Given I live fairly local, I can’t believe I haven’t been there sooner. Honest Burgers is a small burger establishment with a Bohemian feel in Brixton Village. The venue is a small space with seating both inside and out (although still under the cover of Brixton Village Market) – with cosy fleece blankets on the outdoor seating should you get a bit chilly. Given the size, there is often a bit of a queue outside, but it moves pretty quickly and the wait is definitely worth it. The kitchen area is open inside so you can see your food getting cooked which means you can trust what you’re eating. The simple, wooden interiors and seating means the focus is on the food – hearty, healthy and British.
One Friday in December, I joined a few friends with a wide range of dietary requirements (one pescetarian, one carnivore, one gluten-free and one pescetarian with gluten-free!) for lunch. The menu is simple with only a few options – burgers made of chicken, beef or vegetables with a choice of Mature Cheddar, Red Leicester or Stilton available on top. There is also a gluten-free bun, which both my friends on gluten-free diets said were the most delicious gluten-free buns they had tried. I ordered the sumptuous vegetable fritter – made of cauliflower, sweetcorn, shallots, spices, coriander and cucumber yoghurt (£6.50) with a side order of green salad (£2.50) as I was on a health kick. However, I did try a few of my friend’s chips with rosemary salt and they were absolutely delicious.
All four of us loved our burgers, which we washed down with mulled cider with two shots of rum (a festive addition to their drinks menu), while another pal had a traditional lemonade. The service was friendly and fairly fast given it was a busy lunchtime. One of my friends was visiting from Sydney – a city with high culinary standards – and declared it was the best meal he had had during his visit to the UK. This is going to become one of my favourite local food spots for sure.
- Honest Burgers, Unit 12, Brixton Village Market, London SW9 8PR. Open Mon 12-4pm, Tues-Sat 12-5pm, 6-10.30pm, Sun 12-5pm, 6-10pm. Nearest tube/rail: Brixton. There is also a second branch in Meard Street, Soho.
For contents of all Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, visit our reviews page.
2012 has been a year for celebrations – the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics… so why not finish 2012 on a high note and party one last time. Although increasing amounts of friends are staying in for New Year because they find it ‘doesn’t live up to the hype’, I personally have always gone out and done something different every year and always had a good time. I try to start the night with moderate to low expectations and keep an open mind… perhaps that’s my secret to having a string of brilliant New Year’s Eves for the past decade.
So obviously there are 100s of New Year’s Eve events on in London and I don’t have the time or inclination to list them all – I do have a full-time job after all! But if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a few parties that caught my eye. Whatever you do, hope you have a Happy New Year!
If you’re looking for parties to see in 2015, click here for the latest guide.
- New Year’s Eve firework display over the River Thames
Thousands expected to take to the north and south of the River to watch the free fireworks display near the London Eye. Wrap up warm and bring a flask of mulled wine! There will be a lot of congestion or potential closures of some tube stations around the Southbank so check with TFL before you travel. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.
- NYE Stand -Up Show – The Comedy Store
Start your night off with some comedy from Pete Johansson, Imran Yusuf, Paul Tonkinson, Curtis Walker, Stefano Paolini and The Boy With Tape On His Face. After you’ve laughed yourself silly, there will a DJ spinning tracks after for some dancing. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets: £55. The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, London SW1Y 4EE. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website.
- Vintage New Year’s Eve Party – Royal Festival Hall
The team behind the Vintage Festival (Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway) put on a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across pop-up nightclubs, bars and beauty parlours. Music and looks from across the decades, including 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. Tickets: £80 in advance. Starts 7pm onwards. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- Winter Prom Party – The Refinery
London Grooves host the Winter Prom Party at this Southwark venue, playing Commercial RnB, 90s Old Skool, Funky House and Club Classics. Tickets: £25 (going up to £30 after 24th Dec). Times: 9.30pm-3am. The Refinery, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0TF. Nearest tube: Southwark. For more information, visit the London Groove website.
- 1920s Flapper Glamour New Year’s Eve Party – Dirty Martini
1920s-themed party at the Mayfair branch of Dirty Martini. Fancy dress is encouraged with a complimentary prosecco cocktail on offer for those who arrive before 9pm. Tickets £20. Times: 8pm-3am. Dirty Martini, 10c Hanover Square, London W1S 1JH. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Dirty Martini website.
- New Year’s Eve – Bounce
Food, drink and… ping pong is a great choice for someone looking for something a bit different. Located at the new ping pong bar in Holborn, tickets include stone-baked pizzas, canapes, DJs and free ping pong all night. Tickets: £40. Doors open 8pm. Bounce, 121 Holborn, London EC1N 2TD. Nearest tube: Chanchery Lane. For more information, visit Bounce’s website.
- Belle Epoque’s Circus Party, New Year’s Eve Extravaganza – Village Underground
Be welcomed into the ‘sensational, sequinned and often shady world of the circus’, featuring music, DJs from across the decades, dance routines and acrobatics. Fancy dress encouraged. Tickets: £41.80 (inc booking fee). Times: 9pm-3am (acrobats start @ 10pm). Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, London EC2A 3PQ. Nearest tube: Old Street or Shoreditch High Street (overland). For more information, visit the Belle Epoque website.
- Mat Horne presents Session NYE – Queen of Hoxton
Party featuring a rooftop silent disco with sounds from Mat Horne, Babyshambles, The Milk, Ryan Paul, Maddox and others. Times 8pm-4am. Tickets: £20 (+booking fee). Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, Hoxton, London EC2A 3JX. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street (overland). For more information, visit the Queen of Hoxton website.
- Defected In The House New Year’s Eve Party – Electric Brixton
Iconic house label Defected will be hosting 10 hours of some of the world’s finest underground house DJs, including Dennis Ferrer, Deetron, Noir, Copyright, Simon Dunmore and Sam Divine. Tickets start from £40 (+booking fee). Time: 9pm-7am. Electric Brixton (formerly The Fridge), 1 Town Hall Parade, Brixton, London SW2 1RJ. Nearest tube: Brixton. For more information, visit Electric Brixton’s website.
- New Year’s Eve Party of comedy and clubbing – Clapham Grand
The Clapham Grand is offering three packages depending on what whets your appetite – comedy or club or both. Early birds wanting a laugh can see the comedy show featuring Live at The Apollo star Sara Pascoe, British Comedy Award nominee John Moloney and brilliant Canadian comic Glenn Wool from 7pm. Alternatively those who just want to dance can arrive from 10pm onwards for the club, featuring club classics and commercial dance all night, and a performance from Robbie Craig with Woman Trouble. At midnight there will be a live link-up with Big Ben, balloon drop and party canons. Tickets start from (club only) £15, (comedy only) £25 or (comedy and club package) £40. Venue closes at 4am. Clapham Grand, 21-25 St John’s Hill, London SW11 1TT. Nearest train: Clapham Junction. For more information, visit the Clapham Grand website.
- Secret Agents’ Ball – The Driver
From the team behind the Bond Ball, the Secret Agents’ Ball will be full of James Bonds, Austin Powers, and Bond girls partying across three rooms. Fancy dress is encouraged. As well as a drinks reception, there is also an option for dinner beforehand. DJs will be spinning house, electro and disco, while guests can try their hand at poker at the casino. Tickets: £20-£30 in advance. Time: 9pm-5am. The Driver, 2-4 Wharfdale Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9RY. Nearest tube: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit The Driver’s website.
- Shake – The Electric Ballroom
Music: Dance, indie, electro, pop from the 70s, 80s and 90s and feel good anthems. Dress code: Smart and sexy. 9pm-4am. Advance tickets £20 (not inc. booking fee), £25 on the door. Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, London NW1 8QP. Nearest tube: Camden Town. For more information and tickets visit Electric Ballroom’s website.
- Blagclub NHG New Year’s Eve – Blagclub Notting Hill Gate
Intimate party with DJs playing a mix of party styles and classics. Tickets: £10 in advance (+booking fee). Blagclub, 1st floor, 68 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HT. Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate. For more information, visit the Blagclub website.
For daytime activities around London on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, check out the MOAMG blog post on What’s on this Winter: Fun things around London this December.