Review : Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Brixton

Written for the Brixton Bugle

Having originally started out as a pop-up at the Hackney WickED Arts Festival in 2011, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen has rocketed in popularity and is slowly but surely getting Londoners hooked on Ghanaian grub.

Recently back from an 18 month stint in Berlin, Zoe has set up her first permanent residency in a shipping container inside Pop Brixton. With just three small tables and line of sight right to the back of the tiny kitchen, this place is as cosy as it gets. But the atmosphere is warm and inviting and it’s exactly the kind of place you’d want to hang out with friends on a summer evening.

To whet your appetite, Zoe stocks imported Ghanaian beer such as STAR and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, along with palm wine and Alomo Bitters. And if you want to start out with a nibble, I’d recommend getting the okra with shito, a fish based hot pepper sauce. The okra batter is deliciously crisp, full of garlicky flavour and I guarantee you’ll be fighting over the last ones.

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We couldn’t help but order the kelewele, mainly ‘cause of the cute word. But for us the love affair stopped there as we each found the spiced and fried plantain a little too sweet. Next time we’ll just get extra yummy okra!

Presentation, from on-the-plate to inside the shipping crate, was calmingly humble. Each order was served in red terracotta dishes atop wooden tables. And the view out of the glass doors was onto happy, sociable people on a sparkling backdrop of fairy lights. Throughout our time at ZGK, what was really impressive was the serenity they’ve achieved in this tiny space. Any noise or heat from the kitchen was unnoticed.

For mains I ordered the mackerel marinated in chilli, garlic, thyme and lemon juice. My mackerel was entirely perfect; juicy, with spunky hits of chilli and contrasting crispy kale for the perfect texture.

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My friends were much more meat-centric, with one choosing the spicy suya griddled rump kebabs. Suya is a popular spicy skewered beef dish found in different styles around Africa. Zoe’s kebabs had been griddled and then put in the oven to finish off so they had a sturdy texture. They tasted exactly as I’d hope they would if I were to have bought them in a local Ghanaian market after having just watched them being cooked over a flame.

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Because it’s not proper dinner without carbs, we all shared a side dish of jollof rice. It’s a simple West African classic and consists of rice with a spiced tomato sauce. In hindsight we would have been fine without it and it didn’t melt our hearts as much as the rest of the food on the table. The scotch bonnet heritage tomato salsa was a nice add-on and didn’t let down in the spice department.

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The final main was, hands down, the best dish of the night. The superb griddled lamb cutlets served with Zoe’s spiced peanut sauce were a dream. Lamb cooked on the griddle is always a winner in my eyes, but teamed with the spiced peanut sauce, I was in love. Everyone on the table agreed that the perfect blend of sweet and savoury made this the star of the show.

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Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen really manages to encapsulate a feeling of homeliness. It’s clear that her heritage has been kept true to itself and that the menu is a true reflection of Ghanaian home-cooked food. The whole experience at ZGK is laid back, comfortingly atmospheric and tasty as hell.  

Dinner for two including drinks: £45

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