What: Our cheese prayers have been answered, no longer do you have to jump on a plane to the Alpes to stuff yourself silly on raclette, you can now hop on the tube and arrive at the Alpes in Brixton admittedly less snow and no skiing but let’s not be pedantic here. Why? Because street food favourites, Raclette Brothers have launched their first permanent restaurant at Pop Brixton, serving up raclette, fondue and small plates.
New? Yes, they launched at the start of the May, you might think raclette is more of a winter dish, but you’d be wrong because cheese, like the dog you get at Christmas, is for life.
The Setting: Taking up prime position in Pop Brixton, you’ll find Alpes on the top floor making it an ideal people watching space, especially when you can spy people on awkward first dates. I’m glad Brixton still has Pop Brixton, now that the Brixton Rooftop has become a Sports Direct, because that’s what we really need isn’t it?
The Look: House in a bright green shipping container the looks is paired back and simple. Make shift tables are made from barrels and planks of wood and inside there is space for a handful of diners and an open kitchen. In the summer you’ll want to get a spot on the terrace and in the winter, you’ll want to get a snug spot at the back.
On the Menu: Inspired by the alpine regions of France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, the succinct menu includes small and sharing plates from Cannon & Cannon cured meats and H.G.Walter and cheese from Neal’s Yard, Alsop & Walker, Comté from Borough Cheese Co and Swiss artisan cheese from Jumi. Dishes include the likes of pork belly with apple puree and purple broccoli; asparagus, wild garlic, butterbean hummus and hazelnut pesto
What We Ate: We started with deep-fried olives, hot, salty and stuffed with goats’ cheese, they’re a game changer, perfect for snacking on with a glass of crisp wine, our only complaint? We only wish there were more of them, the glass they’re served in is mainly filled with greaseproof paper. Next up as tender beef check that flaked and melted beautifully served with pancetta, shallots and pickled mushrooms. There’s a good dish of pork belly, apple puree and pretty purple broccoli too. A couple of small plates between two should get you ready for the cheese.
We went for the raclette Jurassienne, you’re presented with a plate of potatoes, pickles and pancetta and then they’ll come along with the raclette and scrape a good hunk of melted cheese all over your plate (Instagram boomerang at the ready). It needs no description really, it’s excellent they don’t hold back on the cheese and the pancetta and pickles provide a salty kick. Next up was the tartiflette, a decadent dish of roasted potatoes, crème fraiche, wine, pancetta and Rollright a soft cheese made in Oxfordshire. This is one indulgent dish, use the garlic bread to mop it up and then do as we do and scrape as much out as you can with your fork.
We finished with the rhubarb and almond mille-feuille, when you only have one pudding on the menu you need to make sure you get it spot on and they have here. Sweet, crisp, flaky pastry with slightly tart cream, almonds and edible flowers… or at least I hope they were edible.
What We Drank: I know that red wine isn’t just for winter or cheese, but with the weather as hot as it is, we had to have white wine. We went for Sepp Moser ‘Classic Style’ Organic Grüner Veltliner, an organic dry white wine which was all too drinkable. Wines have been sourced from independent companies such as Boutinot and Red Squirrel and if you visit on a Monday you can take part in their wine tasting evenings.
Go With: To make the most of Alpes you’ll need to be a cheese fan, so vegans sorry this isn’t for you. But if you eat, breathe and live cheese, which many of us do then Alpes is for you.
Where: Alpes, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ, www.raclettebrothers.co.uk
Final Word: The other day I went to Duck Duck Goose and I thought I had found the best place to eat in Pop Brixton but now I’ve been to Alpes and it’s tricky. They’re both so different, but both so good. So they can take joint position. Make sure you visit both.