12 Market Row
020 7274 0939
If a new restaurant opens in Brixton Village and nobody writes about it, did it really happen? If the flurry of reviews following the opening of the market’s first fried chicken joint Wishbone is anything to go by, it would appear not. Suddenly, it seems, in a suburb clogging at the arteries with fast food shops, everyone has an opinion on poultry and the art of deep-frying.
But calling Wishbone just a chicken shop is selling it short and judging by how booming the restaurant is on a Saturday night, locals and hipsters agree. From the moment we step through the door the most distinctive feature is, not the roll-down garage door serving as a shop-front or the technicolour mural painted on the back wall, but the service. I’ve become rather used to being ignored by waiters in London, or at best attempting any kind of exchange with a sullen bartender, so the front-of-house staff here really are a breath of fresh air. Fabulously dressed in outfits that look like they’ve raided the wardrobes of Rihanna and the cast of Saved by the Bell, the waiters and waitresses are super friendly, professional and downright swift. It’s impossible not to get swept up in the ‘90s nostalgia as everyone bops along to classic hip hop tunes, throwing all dietary caution to the wind and embracing deep fried everything!
We place our drinks order and two perfect Pisco Sours arrive almost instantaneously; having formed a sentimental attachment to these cocktails while living in Chile I was impressed to find them on Wishbone’s sours menu and equally pleased they make them properly with eggs.
Boasting a straightforward menu of sort-of southern soul food, every detail is purposeful. Dishes are brought out in plastic baskets with the food laid on brown grease-paper. The black-eyed pea salad is served in a plastic takeaway container; beers in their cans. All appearances seem to be inspired by a small-town diner in the deep south (of America that is, not London), but regardless of whether you agree with them style-wise, it’s quick service and cheap meals. Wine ranges from £4-6 per glass, with the most expensive bottle at £20, though with beer in a can at £3.90 you’re better off stretching your dollar further on a £5.50 cocktail.
On the recommendation of our waiter we tried the Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce, carrot and pickled celery. They were quite simply a deliciously guilty pleasure. Messy? Yes, but I’m yet to discover a Debrett’s guide to eating wings elegantly. Tasty? Immensely. The salt n pepa thighs with Asian mayo were also good in a simple, chicken nugget kind of way, but it was the hot mess that really knocked us off our feet. Hash browns served like nachos with jalapenos, several different kinds of cheese and tomato salsa: it’s a really good kind of mess. We’re urged to come back for the deep fried Mac n Cheese, which the staff describe quite simply as “heaven” and I don’t doubt they’re wrong.
So give your diet the night off and throw the folks at Wishbone a bone.
Buffalo wings: £4.50
Salt n pepa thighs: £5.50
Hot mess: £4.50
Black eyed pea salad: £2.50
Pisco Sours (£5.50 each) x 5
Disabled access: No
Disabled toilets: No
Pre-booking: No (recommended for weekends)
Food (1-5): ****
Atmosphere (1-5): *****
Value (1-5): ****