What: Located in the heart of Brixton Village, Chishuru is the latest in a growing number of prominent West African-inspired restaurants to hit the capital.
Who: Nigerian-born chef Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare, who originally established Chishuru as a supper club, intent on highlighting the lesser-known dishes in West African cuisine. The opportunity to open her first stand-alone restaurant comes off the back of winning the amateur category in last year’s Brixton Kitchen competition. Inspired by the dishes of her homeland, Joké beat off stiff competition to impress Brixton Kitchen’s esteemed judging panel, which included chefs Jackson Boxer and James Cochran, as well as acclaimed baker and Violet Cakes founder Claire Ptak. Through the restaurant, Joké’s aim is to utilise modern cooking techniques 'to preserve the heart of her region’s food'.
The food: Chishuru's four-course set menu changes almost daily, and features an array of contemporary West African dishes inspired by Joké’s heritage, combining British and West African produce, much of it sourced from Brixton's bustling Market Row. Dishes include 'small chops' such as waina - fermented rice balls served with squash, peanut and tamarind sauce; and ekuru, made from ground black beans and toasted egusi seed flour and served with pumpkin seed pesto. The second course features a cassava salad, served with black lemon. Main dishes, which are all accompanied by condiments and Jasmine rise, include goat ayamase - slow-cooked goat shoulder with spiced green sauce; and groundnut soup with chargrilled cauliflower in a spiced peanut butter sauce. While dessert options range between baobab mousse with peanut ice cream, malted millet and sorghum molasses granola; and a fried sweet bread know as gullisuwa that's served with kulikuli nut crumb and yoghurt ice cream. The menu is be priced at £28 for four courses, with a two-course lunch menu also available for £15.
The vibe: As with all units inside Brixton Village, Chishuru is limited in terms of space, with just five or six tables located in the restaurant and another two nestled on the outside walkway - approximately 25 covers in total. The interior design is somewhat bare, but compensated for by the warming terracotta colour scheme. An open kitchen at the back, meanwhile, gives a good view of small brigade as they prepare the dishes, and often allows for the smokey smells of the slow-cooked goat shoulder to waft invitingly through the dining room.
And another thing: Joké describes winning the Brixton Kitchen competition as being 'a major step' towards fulfilling her dream of introducing her vision of West African cuisine to the London food scene. Her decision to initially offer a set menu is, she tells BigHospitality, a way for diners to become accustomed to dishes and flavours with which they may not be familiar. Her plan eventually, though, is to pivot to an à la carte offering that will also include a grill section featuring whole snapper, benne chicken, mutton skewers and beef suya.
Unit 9 Market Row, Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8LB