Negril, Brixton

I’ve been attempting to visit Caribbean restaurant Negril for yonks. Like, years yonks. The first failed attempt came when a Brixton restaurant crawl (yep, restaurant crawl - I also did one in Peckham) was cut short. Two years passed with no success. Then I started working opposite the damn place. Surely my time had come? Opening times were duly noted and I skippy skipped over there at lunchtime the next day to find it…shut. Turns out the opening hours written on the sign outside are completely inaccurate. Ace.

Anyway the other evening I ended up in there on the spur of the moment. I was drunk. I was hungry. I was nearby. The outside tables were rammed with punters on a beautiful sunny evening; excitement levels and expectations were high. We ordered a half jerk chicken meal, sat back with a couple of beers and waited to revel in the very definition of delayed gratification.

That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because that jerk was poor. The chicken had barely a taste of allspice, hardly any chilli heat to speak of and a skin that was really quite odd; a little bit like eating tracing paper. Mostly however, it was just incredibly dry. So dry it was actually hard to chew and swallow. There were two hot sauces; one is worth mentioning as having quite an unapologetic shitload of scotch bonnets in it. The slaw was…meh; way too much mayonnaise. The salad was a salad.

If the food had been any good, I could let the presentation go, but seeing as it wasn’t, I’m going to get annoyed about the fact that they’ve tried to make it more restaurant-y in style by putting everything in bowls and using *gasp!* a proper plate. The best jerk chicken in London comes in a takeaway carton, hacked into pieces with a cleaver, shoved on top of a mound of rice and peas, hot sauce squirted carelessly on the side. Behold my meal at Tasty Jerk

Why is Negril apparently so legendary amongst Brixton locals? Perhaps it’s gone downhill? Frankly, I’m baffled. And, after a 3 year wait, also extremely deflated. Come to think of it, I’ve never found any really good jerk in Brixton. Does it even exist?

Negril
132 Brixton Hill
London
SW2 1RS
Tel: 020 8674 8798

Negril on Urbanspoon

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42 thoughts on “Negril, Brixton

  1. Hi,
    I couldn”t disagree more, I’ve going to Negril for the past 7 years and the food its really nice and well prepared. As far as I know the people running the resaturant now its not the same that when you went , so will advice you to go back.
    the chicken is very moist and tasty, it doesn’t have to taste of chilly as you mentioned. you need to be able to taste the chicken not only heat. the rice and peas were a bit dry but not to bad, and the gravy was so good that my mate who works in Nobu was very impressed. you must eat in not take away. maybe try it again

  2. I’ve eaten there several times and while it’s not the best jerk I’ve had, I enjoyed it and the chicken has never been dry (unlike many stalls where they’ve cooked it into submission.)

    I’ve had good experiences at Negril, but it does seem split between people who love it and people who had a hellish experience with no middle ground whatsoever which always makes my eyebrow raise slightly.

  3. I own the property above Negril and live there with my flatmates. The owner of the place (Latanya) is simply awful and we can always hear her shouting at her staff. Last year I had to report her for keeping a fridge of FOOD in my garden. The chest fridge didn’t even have a proper lid just a board of wood. The same owner illegally put a boiler vent and waste pipe through our wall and when we complained were threatened by her staff. Really if you could see the kitchen like we can you wouldn’t eat there.

  4. I love this place. Firstly, it’s on Brixton Hill, a little out of central Brixton, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a table (annoying when you go for brunch with friends and have to queue for a seat). Secondly, the laid back atmosphere, great music and outdoor seating (if it’s sunny) are perfect for chilling out with friends. Thirdly, the food is great! They do the regular English fry-up, some breakfast options with a Caribbean twist, fresh coconut milk and brilliant smoothies. No complaints!

  5. Agree with marmitelover on your comments about the salad. So dismissive!!! Lol

    *sighs* must get out and find the good jerk chicken places you mention soon as Notting Hill is fast approaching and I’m in the mood for some proper jerk chicken! The sort of basic shack like affair serving cheap, hot and fantastically fresh food.

  6. I have been to Negril a few times but was too drunk to notice the details… I just needed food. However, I have to say…FINISH the PhD before you get the food van…no point in going through half the pain and getting no reward. Just my two bits having done it and also wanting a food van ;)

  7. There’s a dude who sets up late at night in the garden next to the Hootenanny. That’s the one you need. Staggering distance from my house too. Obviously the experience slightly hard to judge as I’m usually, ahem, a little worse for wear if I’m there, but it’s GOOD.

    Take two at the back of the Village used to be good but it’s been taken over by some Villagers with clean tiles now *sigh*

  8. I’ve been to Negril once – like you had wanted to go for ages, lured by its colourful yellow exterior, the pics of palm trees and the fact it’s always packed. But the jerk was just meh, the room was bare and we haven’t been back. The smoothies from Negril’s smaller place in Balham are pretty good though!

    1. Yeah I wouldn’t ever go back that’s for sure! Such a let down. If I ever find myself in Balham I’ll definitely check out the smoothies. I didn’t realise they had another place!

  9. Wagwan. You got to get to UJC. Ultimate Jerk Centre. Coldharbour Lane. I eat there at least once a week. Da Super Jerk Special for £3.99 is for real mon. And Rice ‘n Peas with Oxtail Gravy.

  10. Helen, I don’t knowmuch about jerk being veg, but I know the feeling of just trying to find some proper traditional food without all the bullshit. There is a woman set-up on Hildreth St in Balham; just on the street with a smoking drum. Might be good..take your chances and let me know!

  11. I went a couple of years ago and it was exactly the same, lots of hot sauce needed to get any moisture / flavour. Presented the same way too. I don’t hold any grudges against me dinner being presented on a plate with dishes though, but then I’m shit at eating out of those tubs – RICE EVERYWHERE.

    1. Ha ha I wouldn’t say I held a grudge. I just note the fact that they presented it all nice like yet it was shit. Well if it was like that a couple of years ago…probably no hope.

  12. That’s a shame, Mrs Rabidbarfly and I have been wanting to try that place for EVER! Turns out the best jerk chicken I’ve ever had is my own…and mine rocks. But then I found a little shop that sells amazing jerk sauce and left to marinade overnight…it’ll f**k you up. hehehe.

  13. Really weird: Brixton should be THE place for jerk but isn’t. Well, at least not in restaurants. Judging from the quantities of thyme & scotch bonnet flying out of Brixton Village everyone’s just making it at home. Speaking of which, the place opposite Lab G on the Coldharbour Lane entrance of the village used to be the shit on days when they made the jerk fresh, proper smoker outside and everything. But they’re gone. So Thornton Heath it is for the foreseeable future.

    1. It’s amazing isn’t it? I can’t understand it. I agree that everyone must be making it at home. There’s a guy near to the Hootenanny I keep meaning to try but haven’t made it yet.

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