Three Eight Four: Small and almost perfectly formed (March 2015)

Any place that is packed on a Monday night – even if it is in currently trendy Brixton – must be doing something right. Our group of six were lucky enough to secure the final table in Three Eight Four, right at the back of this tiny restaurant/ cocktail bar. The décor, soundtrack and even the staff all hint a little too strongly at trying to be ‘on-trend’ and so think exposed brick and even MDF, ripped wallpaper, canteen style seating and crockery as well as old-school disco and a bit of knowingly nonchalant shoulder-shrugging and eyebrow-raising. It does, however, work as a formula. More importantly, the food and drink highly impressed. The formula here is small plates for sharing, which indeed worked perfectly for our group and the occasion. Both in terms of composition and presentation, there is an undoubted nod to the likes of The Palomar and Jinjuu, with our sticky ribs, for example, coming in a mock Chinese take-away box and our salads presented on ping pong bats of all things. From the extensive range of things we sampled, there were no let-downs and the king prawns in garlic butter, the salt & pepper squid and the chimichurri steak (the latter marinated in Mexican spices and served on a bed of rocket) all received full marks. Those in our group who sampled the cocktails also rated them and the American pale ale and South African red wine (a Shiraz-Grenache blend made by the excellent Ken Forrester) were also a success. Service, at times, bordered on the indifferent or lacklustre with empty dishes left on the table and drinks orders forgotten, but it didn’t seem to matter too much; maybe it was the atmosphere or just part of the act.