Kricket in Brixton
Are there are any two words more likely to get diners running for their lives than “fusion cuisine”? Turkish-Italian, French-Oriental, South American-Thai – all of it is enough to send shivers up the spine of anyone unfortunate to have suffered through that particular craze. Even the staff at Kricket seem to recoil in horror when we playfully use the term.
So, let’s refer to it as Indo-English, an Indian take on traditional English ingredients and meals. It’s a promising concept: marrying the culture of stunning flavours with one known for the quality of its produce. It could easily disappear into pretension though, especially as it makes a habit of venerating for tradition’s sake alone.
Thankfully, the horrific images we have of curried yorkshire puddings and pork pies disappear as a wave of elegant dishes emerge from the kitchen. They’ve adopted the small-plate trend that’s highly popular right now, so we’ve got five dishes between the two of us, which works out to be about right. The plating is pretty as a picture, daintily arranged with vivid condiments that add bright shocks of colour to the darker meats. The Grilled Lamb is especially attractive, arranged with coriander and smoked paprika raita. It tastes as good as it looks. Indian lamb chops are so often cooked to the point of melting caramelisation but, here, they’ve still maintained a strip of pink in the centre. The result is a hearty but succulent chop that’s full of aromas.
Vindaloo Bavette – with coriander, burnt onion and cassava chips – follows. It’s an excellent pairing of flavours, with the surprisingly mellow coriander dominating far less than you would expect, but the texture isn’t quite there. The beef needs a really solid sear to stop the crust going soggy when placed in contact with the coriander and, sadly, it’s a little wet.
Clove-Smoked Pigeon with Mushrooms is considerably better in that department; the dense meat works beautifully with the buttery mushrooms. The latter’s gentle spicing works especially well with the more robust gaminess of the meat too, creating an ideal match. A selection of Indian-inspired cocktails is offered, and it’s certainly intriguing. Old Narangi, a mixture of cardamom bourbon, marmalade and orange, is refreshing but seriously citrusy. We prefer the Plummaharaja, which has a considerably more complex combination of cardamom vodka, plum, ginger and calvados.
Samphire Pakoras comes next, stacked high and drizzled with date and tamarind chutney. It’s not a dish that would seem to be screaming out for a sweet addition but it actually works surprisingly well. There’s not a hint of grease in the batter, which breaks with a satisfying crunch to reveal salty green tendrils of samphire hidden within. The real gem is Keralan Fried Chicken. Its mundane exterior hiding a thin layer of spicy marinade on the surface of the meat that cuts through the richness of the dish perfectly. There’s a real tang to it, an aromatic sucker punch that catches your taste buds entirely off guard. This is fried chicken taken to a whole new level, an impressive evolution of an ubiquitous food.
As a dish, it perfectly sums up everything Kricket is trying to achieve. It’s not just a novelty, it’s not just a different combination of cultural flavours, it’s a conscious effort to take the best of both cuisines and make something exciting. Whether it’s for an old favourite, or just to try the latest plate, that kind of attitude will draw customers to come back again and again. We know we certainly will.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Aleksandra Rozanska
Kricket, 49 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8PQ, does not take bookings and only takes cash, for further information call 07764 308607 or visit here.