Test Driving Alpes in Pop Brixton - a lot more than just melted cheese (but plenty of that too)

asparagustopAsparagus with butterbean hummus and hazelnut pesto

So what do we need to know about Alpes?

Firstly, this place is NOT a heavy alpine Swiss-themed restaurant, far from it. The focus is on fresh, seasonal ingredients that complement the menu. We visited on a sunny, balmy evening and the food totally suited the season. Think French-style bistro with small sharing plates and some heavenly cheesy dishes too.

Run by the Raclette brothers, this is the first permanent site from the team. They have taken over the site which was previously home to Donostia Social Club, giving them the benefit of both a cosy cabin for when the weather gets a bit nippy, and the outdoor balcony for people-watching and general merriment on sunnier days. Oh, and you can book, which is often a rarity in Brixton. Win-win.

Where exactly is it?

Right slap bang in the middle of Pop Brixton, a host of shipping containers in the heart of thriving Brixton. Take the second right after the station and look for the stream of people heading there to sample all the different vendors housed under one roof.

beefBeef cheeks with pickled mushrooms

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

You could quite easily just take a spot downstairs in the central courtyard, or take refuge in the covered greenhouses if the weather isn’t being so friendly. Insta-worthy Canova Hall is right around the corner with their centralised bar and wine on tap, or for a slightly more civilised quaff, both Wine Parlour or Salon Wines are both a stone's throw and sell beautiful wines by the glass.

For the cocktail connoisseur,  Shrub and Shutter on Coldharbour Lane will try to tempt you to stay all night with their eclectic mix of cocktails including the temptingly named Lemon Crème Brulee (£9.50).

racletteactionRaclette with potatoes and pancetta 

So what's on the menu?

The menu is short with a mix of six small plates and three main courses, so we pretty much ordered everything. We were told the smaller dishes will change with the season, while the staples such as raclette, tartiflette and fondue will be available all year round.

We started with a selection from the small plates, kicking off with deep fried olives with goats cheese - we could have eaten about three portions more had we not known what was to come. Next was a light and fresh asparagus dish with butterbean hummus and hazelnut pesto (£8), perfect for the sunny early evening when we visited.

Cauliflower, romesco and pearl barley (£7.50) was a textured, flavourful plate with fried couscous that gave it an added crunch and a favourite of the night. The pork belly with apple puree and purple sprouting broccoli (£9) was portioned perfectly so that we had the joy of flavour but not the overkill of heavy meat, so it still left room for our next course. Beef cheeks with pickled mushrooms (£9) were their take on a summery beef bourguignon and had that nice hit of meaty goodness without the belly ache of volumes of food.

porktopPork belly with purple sprouting broccoli

And the main event?

After all those starters we shared one main, the raclette. An absolute steal at £8 a plate, this comes with a mixture of both purple sweet potatoes and pink fir, pickles and then the added joy of crispy pancetta. The cheese is then loving scraped onto your plate at tableside - you could hear the sigh of delight at watching molten cheese across the restaurant. We could have had that on its own and still walked away happy.

After all that food we felt pleasantly full, without that groaning ache you often get with Alpine food. This is cleverly portioned and suited to the weather.

There is only one dessert and this will be changing seasonally too. Currently, it is a rhubarb and almond millefeuille – light and crisp with a nice tang from the rhubarb but those with a sweet tooth may be left a little wanting.

Any options if you are a veggie?

Yes indeed, four out of the six small plates are vegetarian, with one vegan option. The raclette can be served without pancetta and the fondue is vegetarian, so there is lots of choice here. We also overheard a table behind us with a whole list of allergies and preferences and the staff were being super helpful in offering solutions and alternatives.

milleRhubarb and almond millefeuille

What about the drink?

Three fizzes are on offer, with a wine list focused largely on the mountainous areas, six white and six red, with prices ranging from £20 to £40 a bottle.

All wines on the list come with detailed descriptions which we found pleasantly refreshing so the diners can feel more informed about what they are ordering. We ordered the Gruner (£30), a thicker skinned white wine that complimented the dishes. Four beers are on offer, with Brixton IPA as a nod to their new permanent base.

Tuesdays are for wine and cheese pairing nights with cider and beer pairings happening in the not too distant future so keep tuned into their Instagram for more details.

Overall thoughts?

We were pleasantly surprised by the light, summery dishes and versatility of the kitchen in this neighbourhood restaurant. Don’t just assume this place is for harking back to hefty, hearty ski holiday meals or for cosy winter evenings -  it has a lot more to offer, plus the best people watching tables in the whole of Pop.

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Alpes. Prices correct at time of publication.


More about Alpes

Where is it? Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PQ

How to book: Email bookings@alpes.london

Find out more: Visit their website and follow them on Instagram: @alpeslondon 


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