Brixton’s most bourgeois of dining spots, which I previously described as “start-up couture” Bellefields, has recently welcomed a new head chef and extended its dining menu to offer the sustaining trend of alcoholic brunching, writes Poppy Woods.
While this is just a rebranding of day drinking that functions to override the dissonance between the conflicting wellness and party lifestyles of our young workforce, it cannot be denied that this same workforce deserves a release in any form from the bottlenecked stress of sustaining an ever more complex work-life balance.
Bellefields’ impeccable ingredient sourcing and Mediterranean inspired simplicity is a welcome change from the bottomless fizz and deep fried fare that seems set to continue springing up at an unsustainable rate all around us (an undeniable mechanism of contemporary cultural trends).
We have arrived in the midst of Harlem X celebrations, which Bellefields have approached with their signature minimalism and a wonderfully curated menu of Brixton/ Harlem cocktails. We try all of them, and despite brandishing bespoke twists for the event, will continue to be delicious once the menu returns to business as usual past the celebrations.
Bellefields’ new head chef, Luis Telo (who has a wealth of previous experience in fine dining, Japanese fusion and modern contemporary, and has worked as a head and executive chef at Black Ro, Hook and Theft and Sexy Fish), brings more Latin influence into the modern European menu that Bellefields already does so well.
Sat in the courtyard on yet another sweltering day, the Mediterranean theme continues with laid back service and a live acoustic accompaniment. We start with our server’s recommendations from the bites menu; Lomo, a deliciously cured ham that demands nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil to electrify the senses, homemade pita that is cloud like and comes with a rustic homemade hummus and a small bowl of olives. All are delightfully simple and positioned to allow their quality to shine through.
For mains, we select Shakshuka, a nest of rich tomato sauce, elevated by slow cooked peppers on which sits a perfectly dippy egg. Next is the bolognese which has been poached from the a la carte lunch menu, which, after quite some time in the courtyard we feel ready to approach. The fresh pasta is really the star of the show here, and if you haven’t already, I would implore you to try it at your earliest convenience – on my last visit I tried the vongole and was very impressed. The sauce is excellent in its own right and given at a ratio conducive to mopping.
Another dish which I would recommend poaching from the hinterland between Bellefields’ brunch and lunch dining, is the moules-frites, an immaculately executed feat of simplicity. The chickpea fritters were decidedly more brunchy and although somewhat in-cohesive as a plate, were delightful in their comprising parts.
We finish with a Harlem festival special, a hunk of delectable Nutella panettone from New York City bakery ‘Settepani’. The vegan options are initially disappointingly salad-based, however, after chatting to our server we, or rather my sister who accompanies me on this trip, are relieved by the ability to substitute meat items in what she considers more engaging dishes. On reflection, I can say with much assurance that start-up couture at Bellefields is alive and kicking and, if you have the means, should be imbibed with shameless bourgeois vigour.