Back in the good/bad old days of Brixton (take your pick depending on whether you turned up yesterday or not) there was always a distinct sense of Emperor’s New Clothes when we got a new restaurant. Brixton duly fell over itself having kittens over many restaurants that if passed in Soho, we wouldn’t even take a second look. Today, in the all singing, all dancing gentrifying foodie fest that is this corner of south London, I can’t leave the house without tripping over a new restaurant, bar, pop-up, thing in a shipping container. Which brings us this evening to Naughty Piglets.
Not totally unlike The Dairy in neighbouring Clapham, Naughty Piglets is an informal bar come restaurant with open plan kitchen, bar seating and tasting plates. Occupying a slot in the less fashionable parade opposite the former George Canning pub (old school heritage reference), it is hosted with suitable gallic verve by Margaux while husband Joe Sharratt takes the kitchen. A partnership born out of Clapham’s Trinity and a romantic stint at Terroirs.
It’s busy, they are busy. I have by necessity in London had to stomach the ubiquity of the disorientating tasting plate concept but if you are going to do it, do it right. Bring me regular, logically structured gastro plates and don’t make me feel you are doing it to suit anyone other than me. Assisted by Margaux’s front of house panache, Naughty Piglets does it right. We ordered everything on the menu.
Highlights definitely included Grilled asparagus, cured egg yolk and parmesan, a funky take on beef tartare with coffee, sorrel & spring greens, BBQ pork belly with sesame and Korean spices and Sea trout, horseradish, dill & cucumber. Delicately robust, big on flavour with interesting little twists – I was sure I would think the fusing of raw beef fillet with coffee was a taste-bud car crash waiting to happen. But actually surprisingly worked. Sharratt apparently embraces tech in his cooking and you can see the technique and sous-vide precision in his dishes. And we like little surprises on our plates (an inevitable consequence of the nouvelle vogue for noncommittal menu descriptions). My millions of fans will know I don’t claim to understand the world of wine and I don’t listen to Brixton’s middle-class twittering eulogies to Margaux’s wine list but those I am dining with hum approvingly.
This is a grown up restaurant, with a personality, doing something interesting which elevates it beyond the local/overhyped hipster gastro crowd. As you find with tasting plate menus, it can add up so this isn’t a dirty-burger-for a-tenner-and-we’re-on-our-way-evening. It’s proper prices for proper food with some surprisingly pleasant culinary detours. And for those who decry the death of a ‘local’ restaurant to be replaced by something for Brixton’s exploding populous of gentrified diners, Naughty Piglets used to be Tony’s – and that was dreadful, no matter what your politics. I can take or leave beardy, tattoo heavy reinventions of deep fried chicken in my market, but this is one dining outpost of the new Brixton that cuts the moutarde.
28 Brixton Water Lane SW2 1PE
020 7274 7796