Photo by Ben Norum
How hard would it be to convince you that Algerian food could be London’s next big thing? Probably not as hard as it would be to convince you that Brixton was the place to eat it. Well, allow us to introduce you to newbie Khamsa which will do the convincing for us.
Run by a husband and wife team determined to show off their nation’s food and prove that not everything that comes in a tagine is Moroccan, Khamsa is out to become to Algerian what Brindisa is to Spanish.
The savoury menu revolves around mezze-style salads, tagines and couscous; which can be ordered as stand-alones or to share. A platter of eight between two is good value at £12 and offers the chance to try the Algerian take on Merguez sausage as well ajhroum di felfel - a sumptuous roasted red pepper salad.
Tagines are £10-12 and generous. The freshness is the main excitement with punchy herbs and spices aplenty, but homemade semolina flatbread may just steal the show - especially if paired with one of their homemade jams in such intriguing flavours as carrot or grape and rose water.
As much a bakery as a restaurant, Khamsa’s indulgent line of pastries and cakes are necessary to be explored. Pastry-wrapped dried figs dipped in chocolate and filled with almond, honey and sesame cakes, pistachio macaroons, date and orange brioche ... It’s a good thing you can get five small ones for £4.50 and better still that you can buy them to take away.
Oh, and do check out their downstairs “lounge” too. On our Monday visit it was rather empty but it’s a scene of regular live Algerian music at weekends, plus occasional Algerian fashion and art displays.
Get on down to 140 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5UT and be aware that if you’re wanting something stronger than mint tea or their freshly pressed juices it’s BYO.