Brixton’s British restaurant ‘with a Jamaican soul’

dishes on restaurant table

Charlotte Latimer enjoys dining that is both fine and fun at Wood and Water on Coldharbour Lane

There was only one day to go until ‘mad Friday’, the last Friday before Christmas, but the streets were unusually quiet as I walked towards Brixton’s newest restaurant, Wood and Water.

It felt like everyone I knew had Covid, had been in contact with someone with Covid, or was just hiding out from the latest, Omicron, variant.

I’m not proud to admit, I was actually a little relieved when walked into Wood and Water to find that there was no one there apart from the charming and effortlessly friendly barperson and senior team member, Julian Ghimici.

man behind cocktail bar
Julian Ghimici

It was 10 days till Christmas, and catching COVID anytime from now, meant self-isolating over the holidays. 

Ghimici greeted me from behind the bar and escorted me over to a candle-lit, marble-style table surrounded by luxurious, green, padded chairs.

As I sat down, still the only other person in this unique Gatsby-esque experience, I asked him about The Three Little Birds restaurant, and popular brunch spot, that used to be at the same site.

Ghimici explained that owners April Jackson (former Miss Jamaica Universe and contestant on The Apprentice) and her partner, Lee Tan, actually ran the Three Little Birds restaurant for six years previously, but wanted to try something different.

“She [April] wanted to come to come more towards a modern British cuisine, still with a Jamaican soul,” explained Ghimici. “We still do breakfast, with the bottomless brunch, and we kept the Three Little Birds Cocktail.”

“And they say Jamaica used to mean the land of wood and water,” he adds, in reference to the new name.

We discuss the Covid situation, “it’s a bit odd,” he explains, “people are a bit worried,” and the impact of Brexit in Brixton, until my friend joins me for dinner. 

cocktail

I order a glass of the very on trend, and musically entitled, Crémant Flute Enchantée and my friend has the pistachio sour.

Jackson and Tan’s love of music comes out not only throughout the menu, but through the carefully selected song selection that is played throughout the night, everything from punk to disco, with some lesser known, more personal, choices, that we can’t even find on Shazam.

Ghimici and my friend both insist that I try the pistachio sour next. It’s light and fluffy and made with rum and pistachio milk, instead of something too heavy or creamy, and Ghimici even offers to make me a vegan version of the drink using Ms Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foam instead of egg white.

cocktails

“If you told me this [cocktail] was winning awards,” remarks my friend, “I’d believe you.”

The menu also hosts a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including a Dry 75, that uses kombucha instead of champagne to give a contemporary twist to the classic, but potentially lethal, French 75.

Everything in the restaurant has been thoughtfully put together, from the wide array of playful and inventive cocktails, to the expertly paired flavours on the food menu.

For starters, we have the croquettes and the goat cheese (a vegetarian spin on the goat croquettes), both cooked to perfect crunch and texture, followed by the spiced sweet potato and salted cod, with charred baby gem and fried plantain, which comes with an exquisite, and finely diced, pineapple salsa. 

Some more people arrive and sit in the bar area at the front of the restaurant and the atmosphere starts to feel more festive.

Wood and Water is a real treat for anyone looking for fine dining, and especially for those with a love of cocktails.

The menu is really fun and creative and the whole experience was made all the more enjoyable by the “family vibe” and warm welcome and service from Ghimici.

Wood & Water
412 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF
hello@woodandwater.uk | 020 3910 1870

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