A few years ago when I was looking for a flat to buy in London, I had to choose between a flat in Brixton and one in Battersea. The flat in Battersea won, because Brixton felt a bit rough around the edges. However, lately I'd been hearing that things had changed in Brixton. I' d heard that hip Londoners were flocking to Brixton Village on the weekends to hang out at the restaurants and coffee shops. So this weekend I checked it out for myself.
When I got out of the tube station the atmosphere didn't seem all that different. It still had a noticeable Carribean flavour which Brixton is known for and I was still offered to buy some drugs outside of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Until I turned the corner and walked around the market and into the arcade formerly known as Granville Arcade. This was more like it. Bakeries selling fresh bread, coffee shops serving frothy lattes and cappuccinos and grill restaurants grilling juicy burgers.
The arcade that is now Brixton Village used to be, till very recently, a derelict spot. A few years ago it was transformed into one of London's best cheap eat spots. There are some 20 odd eateries scattered under its roof with another couple dozen, sprawling over across the street into the Market Row arcade It's a place with a hip yet laid-back vibe, a place where London meets the Caribbean, where French sourdough bread is sold next to yuca roots and where you can choose between sushi or a Jamaican jerk chicken.
No traces of the omnipresent high street chain shops here. No Starbucks, Nero or Costa Coffee, only cosy, independent places. Most are very simple in style. The outdoor seating, the bohemian decor and the open kitchen set up found in most places here, give it all a very homely feel. The service is uber friendly and not rushed at all. Not something easily found in London these days.
Some people say that the influx of these trendy places is a detriment to the traditional Caribbean Brixton vibe and not something local Brixtonites have welcomed. However, it brings business to the local area and judging by the crowds of people and the length of the queues at some of the restaurants, I'm sure that's what many other areas in London should be jealous of.