As a rule of thumb, when a chef wears sunglasses you know you are in for something different. Heritage Deli’s pop up restaurant in Brixton Village didn’t let me down.
As is customary in this covered food hall I walked a couple of laps to check out what was on offer before finally settling.
In the evening Brixton village is filled with wonderful authentic cooking. Aromas of blended Pakistani spices waft from the Elephant whilst just around the corner there is the unmistakable smell of quality cooked meat coming from Brixton grill.
As I walked there was a low level of chatter and laughter coming from the young affluent and slightly alternative diners who seem to frequent Brixton village nowadays.
As I rounded the corner to Heritage café I saw a sight that convinced me to stop my wanderings.
Firstly there was a sign that simply read “Pizza, but not as you know it”. I was intrigued…I thought I knew pizza, we had been on many dates together. I saw Pizza as a partner that I could always rely on. Was I wrong?
The second thing to catch my eye was the staff. Wearing shorts and t-shirt our waiter was sat eating a slice of Pizza scratching his heavily tattooed leg. Stood behind him was his chef wearing a baseball cap and shades.
I hovered for a second before asking if it was OK to sit and wait for my partner to arrive. The waiter, who I later found out was called Dan, looked up from his pizza and beamed an “of course man” and nodded me to a free table. The chef slipped back inside to the kitchen without saying a word.
I cracked open my bottle of wine (it is bring your own drinks) and watched the medley of people meander pass. Sat sipping my wine I couldn’t help but to notice the number of beards and thick rimmed glasses walk pass.
I was snapped out of my people watching though by the arrival of my partner. We sat together as Dan explained to us Heritage Deli’s “Pizza system”. We were left with a note pad and a pen and had to write out the base type, cheeses and toppings we wanted (unlimited for £7 or £6 for unlimited vegetarian toppings).
I sat considering their promise “Pizza, but not as you know it”. I realised that of late, pizza and I hadn’t been on many dates together. I knew pizza, it was safely stored in my freezer alongside my friend’s ice cream and oven chips. When was the last time pizza and I had sat in a restaurant together?
I realised that of late I have come to accept pizza as a mediocre substitute for when I can’t be bothered to cook ‘real food’.
Selling nothing else on Thursday evenings, Heritage Deli’s homemade pizza was simply suberb though. The ingredients were fresh and full of flavour and the base and toppings were cooked to perfection.
There is much to praise Heritage Deli for, the price, the quality of their food or the friendly ambiance. But what finally won me over was the fact that we were allowed to sit at our table for well over half an hour after we finished our food without being rushed or hassled.
Whether or not this is company policy or just Dan being one of the most chilled out waiters I’ve come across I don’t know. All I do know is that I had a great food in a wonderful ambiance all for less than £10.