Chishuru – Contemporary West African Cuisine

As much as I appreciate the finer things in life, including a fancy restaurant with all the trimmings at heart I’m a simple gal. A restaurant may not be in the most prestigious location with all the decadent attributes of a Central London paradise but when the food is good… when the food is amazing, who cares!

I ventured down to South London’s cultural oasis – Brixton to visit Chishuru, a new restaurant by award-winning chef Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare.

Although the restaurant is new Joke is no amateur (unless she’s busy winning the amateur category of the Brixton kitchen competition), and has been running super clubs and dinner parties for years. Winning the competition enabled her to fulfil her dream of opening her own restaurant and for that we are truly grateful!

Chishuru, described as serving “contemporary West African dishes inspired by heritage recipes” is located in a small unit in Brixton village market. The space is modest, warm with a rustic feel, kind of like a hole in the wall, but with an elevated atmosphere. There is an open kitchen, indoor and outdoor seating with a few pieces of African art work on the walls and soft lighting. There is a different kind of elegance in simplicity and although the space is quite basic I love how they’ve created an intimate, authentic ambience.

I started with a cocktail – The Banana One – which was actually made with a plantain liqueur. Although plantain desserts are gaining popularity lately, I have never heard of a plantain cocktail. I was confused and intrigued but honestly it was amazing. Smooth and subtle, I could taste the plantain essence. It was not overbearing with the spiced notes from the rum. Highly recommend.

The Banana One

The menu is concise and descriptions are minimal which enticed me to want to try it all. 3 starters, 5 mains and 1 dessert. It may sound over indulgent but I did share it! The portions are generous, not glutinous and the mains even came with a side of fried plantain and a salad.

Fried Plantain

I enjoyed everything, I enjoyed it all. The sweetness of the chicken sweetbreads, the scotch bonnet sauce that accompanied the bean cake ekuru and the cassava fritter that was light and crispy.

The goat ayamase was one the best I’ve tasted; the meat was literally falling off the bone. it was spicy but still multi dimensional in its flavour. The bavette suya was not only cooked to perfection but came with pickled onions instead of the usual raw onions on the side. This was a new for me and it worked really well. The peanut sauce of the chargrilled cauliflower had so much texture, the sea bass was fresh and served in what I think was a banana leaf or something similar. The attasi rice was one of my favourites, reminding me of waakye with a beautiful red pepper dressing on top.

For dessert we had the baobab with  peanut ice cream and popped rice. Although I wasn’t crazy about it I enjoyed it and after slugging through the 5 powerful mains and 2 sides which were all packed with flavour it was the nice, clean finish that I needed.

Baobab

I don’t think written words can do the experience at Chishuru the justice it deserves. It needs to be experienced and appreciated in person. Nothing was over complicated, yet here was so much thought, detail and passion displayed in every dish that you couldn’t help but feel warm and comforted as you ate.

I actually like that Chishuru is located in Brixton Village Market, surrounded by many authentically cultural eateries both contemporary and traditional. Although they have made the space as aesthetically pleasing as possible the primary focus is definitely the food which was presented just as well as the food in any West End establishment.

Joké has successfully embodied the idea of contemporary West African cooking. I loved it from start to finish and if you get to meet her you will love her too. Chishuru’s was one of my favourite visits this year and I’m trying my hardest not to go back too soon. There’s a familiarity in the flavours, innovation in the presentation and uniqueness in the combinations which makes the whole experience feel like a little taste of deja vu.

Favourite Dishes – Attasi Rice, Goat Ayamase, Chicken Sweetbreads

Total Spend – Approx. £122 (Inc. service charge)

Chishuru – Unit 9 Market Row, Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LB

www.chishuru.com

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