Bellefields in Brixton: “Unfussy Mediterranean food – there isn’t a scrap left after I’ve finished with it”
The torrential rain that London has been experiencing doesn’t exactly set the mood for a Mediterranean feast, but that hardly matters at Bellefields, where the brightly lit and open restaurant offers a happy escape from the grey clouds and flooded city streets.
Located at the department store in Brixton, the venue is fresh, colourful and fun. Marble-effect tables with an attractive mix of turquoise and wooden seating feel reminiscent of the sea, all surrounding a large bar where a wide range of cocktails are made. Printed art covers the walls, reflecting the illustrations on the menu – it’s modern and vibrant.
There are a couple of aperitifs to have while we mull over the food: the Bellefields Spritz – Merchant House Gin, Grapefruit Sherbet, Rosemary, Fizz – which is refreshing and pleasant, if a little forgetful – and the Bellagroni of Hayman’s London Dry Gin, Discarded Vermouth, Campari – their take on a negroni hits the spot, offering up the lovely bitter flavours you’d expect from the classic drink. There are also a range of small batch and premium Mediterranean gins to choose from, as well as white, rose, red and sparkling wines.
The menu is split into bites, plates and extras. The idea is to share and there’s a sort of tapas vibe, though some dishes are a little larger. We begin with Sicilian Anchovies, which is exactly what it says on the tin (perhaps literally) and Taramasalata, Padron Peppers. This serving nicely sums up the motivation behind Bellefields, which is to marry together the flavours of the Mediterranean. The peppers and fish-based dip go surprisingly well, the only criticism being you are left wanting a bit more.
Burrata is certainly having a moment, but who can blame it; that stuff is delicious. It has of course made its way onto the table in the form of a caprese salad and doesn’t disappoint with its creamy, cloud-like goodness. The tomatoes are beautiful and genuinely reminiscent of holidays in Italy. Alongside this we order the Grilled Octopus, Butter Beans, Spinach – it’s meaty, just the right amount of chewy, moist and succulent. Paired with the butter bean purée and soft spinach, it makes for a perfect small plate.
The larger courses include a range of pastas, vegetarian, fish and meat options. The pastas can conveniently be ordered in different sizes depending on if people want to share or have it as more of a main. As a die-hard super-fan of the Italian staple, this decision is difficult, but the Crab Tortellini, Courgette is calling out my name. The folds of fresh pasta encompass a generous portion of the crustacean, creating a really delicate combination of textures and tangy flavours. The tortellini are submerged in a tomatoey sauce with slices of courgette, and come in just the perfect quantity,
The last main is Catch of the Day, Sauce Vierge – a whole plaice covered in olive oil, fresh capers, lemon juice, herbs and halved cherry tomatoes. It’s wonderfully tender and is well paired with the traditional caponata.
Puddings once again comprise classics from France, Italy and Greece. Though tempted by the baklava, we want something a bit more substantial, so it’s got to be the tiramisu and crème brûlée. The former is rich yet light, with just enough coffee to balance the cream, while the latter is genuinely the best I’ve ever had, a wafer-thin burnt layer of sugar sublimely encasing the most scrumptious vanilla custard. There isn’t a scrap left after I’ve finished with it.
On the whole, Bellefields has a strong formula. The Mediterranean theme means infinite possibility for any menu changes and every dish is well-seasoned and inviting. This Brixton spot achieves something simple yet satisfying: unfussy plates made from high-quality ingredients that are perfect for sharing.
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at Bellefields, 9 Stockwell Avenue Brixton London SW9 9SY, visit their website here.