Anyone visiting the smugly salubrious area on a Saturday will be able to see that brunch is a big deal in Nappy Valley.
The outside seating area at Brew, Northcote Road, is packed even on the most wintry of days, while The Breakfast Club, Battersea Rise, has the sort of queue most commonly associated with a Clapham nightclub on a Friday night.
Meanwhile, every pub and bar is filled with people recovering from the previous night’s excesses with a Bloody Mary, or indulging in a spot of smashed avocado on toast before watching the rugby (a fanatical devotion to which seems to be essential to living in the area, along with a Barbour jacket and an impracticably large Range Rover).
This weekly ritual means that any establishment willing to stock themselves with prosecco, avocado, and eggs can and does make a killing every Saturday morning, but it’s unfortunately not conducive to culinary creativity.
I was particularly excited, therefore, to try the Jamaica-inspired brunch at Three Little Birds, a new restaurant on Battersea Rise opened by former Apprentice star and Miss Jamaica 2008, April Jackson, as part of a ‘Banging Bloggers Brunch’ press event.
First impressions were positive, with the very smiley and welcoming Cali greeting us at the door with a shot of Appleton Rum, a move that has to be greatly respected considering it was only just past 11 in the morning.
The rum was delicious, smoothly spiced and completely drinkable on its own, something I had never really considered doing with rum before.
This was followed in quick succession by yet another shot, this time of Don Papa, which was as mellow as a fine Scotch, with hints of caramel and vanilla.
Suitably lubricated, we made our way to the table, threading our way past the elegantly dressed Instagram influencers who were the main focus of the event.
The interior of Three Little Birds is shabby-chic, with exposed brick walls and characterful reclaimed chairs and tables, all of which is perfectly suited to the laid-back, quirky vibe that the restaurant is going for.
SHABBY CHIC: The cosy and quirky interior of Three Little Birds.
We settled in and were handed the menus, which advertised a special selection ranging from the ubiquitous smashed avocado (with a Jamaican twist) to handmade jerk chicken burgers.
Although we were offered the restaurant’s signature Dark and Stormy cocktail, we both opted for a Bloody Mary, which was spiced to perfection and whet our appetite for the food to come.
This, unfortunately, was when things went wrong.
What I hadn’t realised was we would not be treated to any of the actual dishes served by Three Little Birds on a regular basis, but instead miniaturised canapé versions which were only dispatched, rather distressingly, every half an hour.
I don’t blame April, Cali and their team; the set-up was perfect for the inherent superficiality of Instagram, although rather less well suited to a more traditional review.
As I only sampled tiny bites of each dish, I can’t comment on portion sizes, or value for money, (although a glance at the regular menu suggests the prices, while high, are in line with similar restaurants in the area).
I can, however, comment on the flavours, and thankfully they were spectacular.
We started with a taste of the smashed avocado toast, which April has rescued from its usually coma-inducing tediousness with the addition of homemade chilli jam, the heat turning it into the perfect Saturday morning pick-me-up.
Next we tried Jamaica’s national dish, boiled Ackee fruit sautéed with saltish, onions, tomatoes, peppers and spices (pictured above), as well as a vegetarian version without the fish.
After the fiery heat of the chilli jam, the Ackee was slightly underwhelming, although the subtle flavours would be better appreciated with a larger portion than the mouthful we had.
Finally we tried the mini jerk burger, a patty of spiced, minced chicken served with a tangy and sweet barbecue sauce.
All things considered, I liked Three Little Birds, and I appreciate the originality it is bringing to the rather monotonous brunch options offered elsewhere in the area.
I also liked the very personal touch that April brings, which is epitomised in the discretionary donation added to every bill, used for buying food for a Brixton food bank that April volunteers at.
The flavours were also on-point, with the chilli jam and the jerk chicken patty being particularly delicious, and leaving me very disappointed that I only tried a mouthful of each.
In the end however, we had been sitting at the restaurant for nearly two hours and had eaten just four mouthfuls of food.
Faced with the prospect of a half-hour wait for another bite, and unable to continue drinking cocktails on our empty stomachs, we regretfully made our excuses and left to find a more substantial meal.
It seems there really is no such thing as a free lunch after all.
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