Test Driving the Laundry in Brixton - a classic building gets an impressive makeover

roomThe revamped Walton Lodge Laundry building. That terrace will be very handy come summer.

What can you tell us about The Laundry?

The laundry takes over a very recognisable building on Brixton's Coldharbour Lane - the Walton Lodge Laundry building. The laundry closed in 2014 after 120 years as a working laundry on the same spot and since then, there's been no movement - until now.

So who's taken over?

This new restaurant and bar comes from Melanie Brown, who already had a business in the area with mini wine bar and shop The New Zealand Wine Cellar in Pop Brixton. She also has experience working as a chef for Peter Gordon at The Providores, as well as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Vinoteca. Melanie has brought in Australian chef ​Dylan Cashman (previously at Sydney's Sean's Panorama and Pilu at Freshwater) to look after the kitchen.

How different does the place look?

We have to say - it's smaller on the inside than we expected. In the main area, on the ground floor, only half of the area is dedicated to a sit-down restaurant - the rest is a coffee bar during the day, and a bar in the evening. Downstairs in the basement, there's a larger space that can be hired out - and this will eventually also be an overflow dining room if available.

That basement space is a beautiful room and still gets some daylight through the glass paving stones - so either option is good. Upstairs is cosy and you're close to your neighbours, but there's a great vibe too. Inside they've kept some original art/books from the original laundry and the walls remain largely the same too. 

There's also a sizeable outside courtyard - so expect that to be put to good use on warmer days. 

Where is it?

If you're a Brixton local, it's likely you'll be very familiar with the building - if you're not, it's just a short 5-minute walk down Coldharbour Lane from Brixton tube. 

roomStarting with cocktails (all £9) - these are a fat washed Old Fashioned and The Market Spritz (Earl Grey infused gin, and peach with soda, garnished with shrub of the day).

Where should we go for a drink before/after?

The Laundry is a no-reservations restaurant, so if you want a table at a busy time, you may find yourself grabbing a barstool here while you're waiting for a table. If not, then good options nearby are the bar at Kricket, just a couple of minutes down the road, the Shrub and Shutter or the nearby Brixton Market bar. 

And what kind of food can we expect?

It's all about sharing - there are a collection of snacks (get started on those before looking at the rest of the menu) and then a range of small-largish plates on offer. These are divided into veg, meat and fish dishes. Portions are on the more generous side, so we think you could order 4-6 dishes between two and be well fed. The tables are quite small, so we'd suggest ordering two at a time. 

Here's what we had on the night. 

roomCroquettes, because we have to order these whenever we see them on a menu. These are ham hock and pork roasted carrot croquettes (£4.50). Yes, you should order them as you peruse the rest of the menu. 

roomProbably our favourite dish of the night - the roasted curry leaf, ricotta whey and grains (£9) - an excellent veggie dish. Order some of their sourdough to soak this up. 

roomSmoked fish bacalhau, potato crisp, chives (£12) - fishy, potato goodness. 

roomOne of the larger dishes - the roast pork belly with house-made yoghurt and pickled chilli. It also comes with a heap of brussel sprouts, all hidden behind the pork in this pic (£16). If you want to get into the early Christmas spirit - this is the dish for you. 

roomThe potatoes - but not any old potatoes. These are pink fir potatoes baked in salt pastry with garlic and rosemary herb cream on the side (£5.50). Yes, this is just how we like our potatoes served - surrounded by even more carbs. A must-order dish, great potatoes with a tiny bit of theatre. 

Anything else worth highlighting?

There's a lot to the menu that we didn't manage to tackle. Other dishes that sounded interesting include "charred gem lettuce, parmesan whey, avocado, cured egg yolk and bonito flakes (£7.50) and Hereford beef tartare, fermented chilli, egg yolk, bonito, triple cooked beef fat potato chips (£9). Plus there's a fish of the day and look out for even more on the specials board. 

Plus - as they're an all-day restaurant and cafe, they'll be serving up coffee all day - and they have a breakfast menu too. That menu includes The Laundry Sandwich - house-made chorizo, tomato chutney, bechamel, sourdough and fried egg (£9.50). 

And dessert?

The meal we had was a little on the carby side - so it's definitely possible to fill up quickly.  There are lighter desserts like a coffee pannacotta and brownie (£5) and a lemon tart - but we went for...

roomChocolate, almond and orange torte with clotted cream ice cream (£5)

roomAnd if you want something a little smaller, try the warm chocolate chip cookie, baked to order (£4). Note - there are a few unbilled nuts in there too. 

How about the drinks?

Alongside the cocktails we tried above, there's local beer from Brixton Brewery and Kernel and a decent sized wine list. Unlike their wine shop, this isn't restricted completely to New Zealand wines, although they do put in a good showing. Prices start at £20 a bottle (Carinera Viura & Chardonnay) but there's a good spread of prices, heading up to the £90 mark if you're after some 2018 Polish Hill, Grosset, Clare Valley Reisling.

Overall thoughts

We visited The Laundry on what turned out to be their first-ever evening service and we were impressed with what they'd already achieved. It's a large scale overhaul of a classic building, adding something unique to the neighbourhood. Great cooking, good vibes and a warm welcome make this a great addition to Brixton. 

Hot Dinners ate as guests of The Laundry. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about The Laundry

Where is it? The Laundry at Walton Lodge, 374 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL

How to book: Walk-ins only.

Find out more: On their website or follow them on Instagram @brixtonlaundry.


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