Two's company. A few words on food, drink and little adventures! @atablefortwoLDN
Once vehemently disputed gangland territory, Acre Lane is now far from it. Following the hype that has surrounded the market with the likes of Honest Burger and Franco Manca setting up shop,a little further afield, amongst the chicken shops and nail bars, Acre Lane now boasts some fine eating. Loved by locals and quickly starting to pull in the foodie crowd across the capital, the few restaurants on this road are giving their market competition a damn good run for their money. And for probably half the price.
Khamsa needs not to boast. It’s a neighbourhood establishment. A part of the community. Started by a husband and wife team a few years ago, it’s clear to see that this intimate Algerian place has heart. Although, it’s more than one of those well worn locals you go to every Friday night. If you tried to come here for dinner though, you will probably be out of luck since the small split level restaurant only hold about 40 covers in total and is rarely open on both floors. The restaurant is popular but the owners clearly don’t want to compromise on quality for the sake of making an extra buck. The husband is mostly in the kitchen whilst the wife serves. No one else just good old fashioned teamwork. The kitchen is open plan so you can see every individual dish cooked from scratch.
The menu is proudly all Algerian. Whether you’re familiar with the cuisine or a first timer, there are some real treasures to be discovered. Hearty tagines, curries and grills make up the mains, whilst small plates and salad selections are available for those who want to share. Make sure to check out the specials too for added bonuses.
Eager to tuck in, we chose a dip to start (zaalouk salad), not a salad as we’d know it but a cooked aubergine, tomatoes,and courgette puree served lukewarm with authentic bread. The combination between the sweet almost roasted flavours of the salad and the savoury of the bread set to embark us on a shoestring north African culinary holiday.
Our mains took a fair while to follow, but the fact that the cook ran a one man show (and we could watch) completely overturned the slower than expected service. With a good red wine in hand (BYO with no corkage charge. Could this place get any better?) time flew by in no time. Served in a traditional clay pot, the chicken tagine was definitely worth the wait. Moist, well cooked chicken pieces swam in a pool of well spiced thick sauce, creating a whirlpool of flavours with every mouthful. The dish was accompanied by the possibly the fluffiest couscous every created. So deliciously light it was that we had to ask how it was cooked. “Twice steamed” answered our host, apparently couscous should never be cooked directly in water. Tesco packaging team take note!
To wrap our meal up, we couldn’t resist tucking into some traditional Algerian cakes. Richly moist and sweetened with honey, they presented the perfect finish to a great feast. Paired with traditional spiced coffee. An array of fresh teas are also available for those not sharing our addiction to caffeine.
Three hours later and we landed back on the streets of Brixton. Khamsa was truly a mid-week delight which can be repeated over and over.The menu is pleasingly elaborate, the atmosphere is fantastic and the smiling hosts make sure that guests new and old are equally welcomed. At around £20 a pop for a three course feast, you’ll be searching far and wide for a better value dinner date this side of the atlantic!
140 Acre Ln,
London, SW2 5UT
Tel: 020 7733 3150