My parents lived and wed in Brixton. My earliest memories are of Brixton. One of my few bonafide claims to fame is being an infant regular to the original Franco Manca in Brixton Market, where I was allowed to toddle into the kitchen and watch the pizzas be prepared. (I’m told the cooks gave me dough to chew on.)
I submit this unsolicited biography to prove that I am a human, who wants to call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth that when it comes to matters of Brixton, I am more than a little biased in favour. How biased? Were you to tell me that the entirety of London had been wiped out, save for SW9 and the surrounding area up to and including Brockwell Park, my reaction would be “not ideal, obviously not ideal, but workable nonetheless. Anyone fancy Hootenanny?”
So sat outside The Laundry on an August evening, the market humming away next door, the light soft, the air fragrant, yes, I experienced a state of bliss normally only found on the Buddist temples of Mount Kilimanjaro, or after swallowing a shit ton of acid – but my judgement can’t be taken as entirely impartial. You best go and find out for yourself.
No question, The Laundry is very much A Place To Be
And while I can’t guarantee nirvana (although there’s always Spotify), I can say with borderline certainty that you’ll have a real nice time. Everybody else was. Over the course of the evening, we saw two couples make friends and the staff treat an inquisitive toddler like royalty. It’s that kind of vibe – and word is spreading.
We were sat on the terrace for a solid two hours, and not a single table was empty for more than five minutes. And this was a Thursday: so nobody was helping out by eating out thanks to Rishi’s funny money. People were parting with their cash to eat here. No question, The Laundry is very much A Place To Be.
Of course, being A Place To Be isn’t worth much if the food and drink fail to live up to the hype. (Apart from ‘Insert Favoured Noted Celebrity Hangout Here’.) Definitely kick things off with a cocktail: the Cucumber Margarita is a lovely light pick-me-up, while the Walton's Tipple – named after the building – combines rye whiskey, cognac, and chocolate bitters for something a little more muscular.
The starters are uniformly excellent - from perfectly cooked ham croquettes (we ordered two) to cured salmon from London Smoke and Cure, just up the road in Streatham.
Go heavy on such sharing plates – but not too heavy. Because you’re gonna want to save room for one of the larger plates. My housemate went for the roast chicken with charred corn salad and gravy – and it was both delicious and entirely guilt-free (I’m no nutritionist but I reckon you could eat it everyday as part of a healthy diet.) Somewhat less innocent, but even more delicious, was my rolled pork, celeriac remoulade, apple and salsa verde. Ah, man. A dish to make you pity the vegetarians, even if they are saving the planet. (Thanks, guys.)
(Incidentally, there are several veggie and vegan-friendly options, especially among the sharing plates. And the housemade tomato focaccia is just great.)
We didn’t really want dessert, we were stuffed, but dessert was pressed on us and we ended up eating all of it: both the warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream and the creme brûlée. That’s dessert for you. Worth going the distance for.
The building used to be an Edwardian wash house, opened in 1904
Any review of The Laundry is incomplete if it doesn’t mention Melanie Brown. Melanie is the restaurant’s founder and custodian; she has somehow mastered the ability to look after multiple tables simultaneously – as in, you’ll see her recommend wine at one, blink, and somehow she’ll have teleported across the terrace to greet new arrivals at another. She’s palpably proud of her restaurant, and so she should be.
Hold on: I haven’t even mentioned why it’s called The Laundry. It’s called The Laundry because the building used to be an Edwardian wash house, opened in 1904 and fully operational as a steam press laundry until 2014. So there you go.
Will its gastronomical successor last for 110 years? Based on the quality of food and service, you wouldn’t entirely bet against it.
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374 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, SW9 8PL; The Laundry