Somewhere between the styles of The Blues Kitchen and the Rum Kitchen, there’s a new venue on Brixton‘s Acre Lane with an inventive take on South American hospitality. The Resident speaks to founder and DJ Ferdie Ahmed about why you should head to Barrio Brixton for a unique night of drinking and dining…
Words: Madeleine Howell
Brixton is fast becoming our favourite spot for culinary surprises and lethal cocktails. We already love The Blues Kitchen on Brixton’s Acre Lane for Texan barbecues and Cajun spiced jambalaya. It’s the place to go for live soul and swing dancing.
The Blues Kitchen is not to be confused with the Rum Kitchen, which is moving into the nearby Coldharbour Lane to serve up beach shack-style Caribbean cuisine and fruity, rum-soaked cocktails, such as the Rattleskull Punch with Kraken, pineapple and mango.
Between the two, there’s room for another newcomer on Acre Lane – Barrio Brixton. ‘There’s a Peruvian slant on the menu, whereas the Barrios in Shoreditch and Soho are more Mexican,’ says founder Ferdie Ahmed. ‘We’ll be pouring lots of pisco, cachaça and picklebacks, but we’ll still be serving tequila and mescal. We’re also going to bring tiger’s milk to the party, and play around with that as an ingredient.’
The Barrio cantina will be ‘open, relaxed and come-as-you-are – everyone’s welcome,’ Ahmed says. ‘I was fed up of going to restaurants at the other end of the spectrum. Barrio is inspired by Latino culture, and my travels. At the same time, I’m not trying to hijack anyone’s culture, and Barrio has never pretended to be “authentic”. It’s a blend based on my experiences and tailored to a Brixton audience. I want it to feel like part of the neighbourhood.’
Brixton Village is certainly changing, and Ahmed is at pains to make sure that Barrio is for Brixtonites as well as guests from further afield. ‘I was very conscious coming into Brixton of local sentiment about the changes that are happening in the area,’ he admits. The 200 capacity venue will work closely with local markets, brewers and distillers, artists and performers. ‘There’s an artist called Archie Mac who created a beautiful kaleidoscopic collage called the Chronicles of Brixton. I’ve commissioned her to do a piece for us.’
The playful interiors stand out with reclaimed materials, upcycled furniture and bold colours, and the eclectic vintage caravan looks like fun. ‘We like to re-appropriate interesting articles and use them in different ways.’
Music is part of the experience and is at the heart of Ahmed’s take on hospitality. ‘I’ll be DJing for the first couple of weeks to make sure it kicks off in the right mode,’ he tells me excitedly. ‘Again, my style has been shaped by different influences over the years. I put traditional sounds together with contemporary, electronic sounds.
‘At the weekend, it’s more of a party vibe and we jump across a lot of genres to keep people happy. We don’t want to be too cool-for-school, but not too commercial either. It’s about having fun. I like to put a bit of humour in my sets as well.’
That said, Barrio is not just a party bar. The food at Barrio Brixton is set to be on point with the help of Executive Chef Ernesto Paivia, a Peruvian chef from a Michelin-starred background. ‘He wants to go back to his roots and cook food with his own take on it,’ explains Ahmed. We can’t wait to try his speciality ox heart anticuchos, spiced, marinated meat on skewers served just as they’re sold from the street carts of Lima. We’ll also be tucking into salmon ceviche and grilled pork belly with a chilli kick. It’s time to book a cab to SW2, pronto.
30 Acre Lane SW2 5SG; welovebarrio.com