The bright young thing tripping happily down an aisle in the Brixton Market can’t see the dishevelled man waiting in ambush. As she approaches, the man jumps into her path, blocking her way. She screams. He laughs uproariously clutching his sides; a loud, cackling maniacal laugh. He then goes back to his hiding place, and waits for his next victim. He repeats his ambush all evening, adding a slightly surreal backdrop to my dinner.
I’ve seen the chap before. He’s just one of the characters in the Brixton Market. The market is a covered space which smells vaguely of rotting vegetables, raw meat and bleach. It’s bang on trend right now as a foodie destination, boasting a host of small restaurants and pop ups. Previously Brixton was best known for race riots and a prison. Hipsters love it.
I am sitting at a rough wooden table at The Joint, a barbeque restaurant in the Brixton market. My dinner companion is the One Way Ticket Man, a friend who spends his time travelling the world without an itinerary, buying only one way tickets. He finds it cathartic after a career in banking.
The Joint serves bread baked in the local prison. Pulled pork, cooked for 16 hours and served on a prison made bun is their specialty. There is no way to eat this food in polite company – you inevitably end up with juices dripping down your chin. I give in to temptation and lick my fingers. The prison made bread is very good. The short ribs are also tasty, falling off the bone and tender. For full hipster effect the food is served on tin plates and the sides come in paper bags – with mixed results. The french fries were fine, but the onion rings steamed inside the bag and were soggy. The cocktails here are average; stick to the beer. The Brixton IPA from a local micro brewery is very drinkable.
As we eat, someone turns up the music and a group of young people spontaneously started to dance. In the background, our disheveled man keeps cackling insanely as he scares yet another victim. It is best not to bring a date here.
Round the corner from The Joint, Casa Morita, a no nonsense Mexican restaurant, sells insanely good churros. We had ours with a passable dark rum.
ISHKA, the start up I helped co-found has offices down the road from the Brixton Market. Its a little more genteel at our end of the road but the characters abound. The laughing man is part of my restaurant beat; I greet him like an old friend. I wish he can get treatment for whatever ails him. At the same time, his childlike delight in the simple things makes me smile. I am glad to share space with him. Vive et vivatis. Live and let live.
The Joint started business as a food truck. The truck is still around and may pop up at a street festival near you. They also operate a restaurant in Tooting, but I don’t know where that is.