Don’t get us wrong, we like Brixton for a trendy night out. We love our Bug Bars and our Plan B’s all jostling to serve up foreign beers as an undernourished deejay spins Nancy Sinatra on the decks. But the nights are getting longer and we want something a little more… comfortable. We’re not as young as we used to be. And it’s cold. Bitter cold. We can’t feel our nose cold. And we’re hungry. And sober. But mostly cold.
Open just a few weeks, Hive is the new local restaurant/bar five minutes walk from the tube. Snug inside, the downstairs dining area is cosy without being claustrophobic - honeycomb candle holders glow amber against pistachio nut walls. We choose a table and get stuck into the menu. It’s a comfortable list of spicy parsnip soup and sausages & mash - homemade and organic where possible. When our meals arrive, the stilton tart isn’t too hot, but the onion relish is spot on, the burgers good and meaty - and anyway, the beers are thawing us out.
At nine, the live music starts upstairs. We’ve ordered the last rosemary choc pot in the kitchen (which is just as it should be - sickly and delicious) so we take our time before heading up ourselves. We’re serenaded with Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, the Stones and by the time we join the crowd they’re in top spirits assisted by a long list of cocktails mixed by our man behind the bar. He suggests a Bramble and a Dark & Stormy, but we also play it safe with a Zubrowka and Apple Juice.
Alley Miller starts up on his guitar again, this time strumming out pub anthems, and everyone’s singing. From the good-humoured heckling between songs, you can tell most everyone here knows everyone else. The drinks go down well and anyway, we all know the words to “Don’t look back in Anger”. In fact, it’s exactly this kind of atmosphere, impossible to manufacture, that makes this place such a welcome addition to the Brixtonista. It’s also what saves Hive from being just another gastro pub. Long may it last.
Hive, 11-13 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PA
Open Tuesday to Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner (11am – 12pm)