Friday, 16 March 2012

Restaurant Review: Electric Social

An electrifying experience in Brixton. You've got to allow me that one... This is my review of Electric Social for my South London Press column.

Electric Social opened with only the slightest of fuss and fanfare late last year. Pretty much just when Electric Brixton opened down the road, in fact.  As the owners of both venues are no doubt bored of reiterating, they are not linked in any way.

With that established, the next task is to work out exactly what Electric Social is. On paper, its status as a one-fits-all joint merging bar, pub, restaurant and club is painful to comprehend. It’s to the credit of the maverick who thought it up that once inside this confused conceptual headache becomes cannily hedonistic.

The comfy surrounds play their part in this transformation, with a variety of sink-in sofas, prop-up bar stools and practical tables designed to fit just about any mood or purpose. A ‘library’, WiFi and plenty of plug sockets gives it something of an upgraded common room feel. This is a place you can spend all day, and perhaps even manage to fit in a bit of work along the way. If my common room had ever decided to serve cocktails along the lines of the Brooklyn which is made here with bourbon, vermouth, bitters and a slug of maraschino liqueur, then I’d certainly have spent a lot more time in it, though how much work would have got done is another matter.

The beauty of this hybrid hangout really lies in its food offering, with plenty of snacks and main meals available to soak up a few of those cocktails. Potted shrimp served with toasted English muffins fits into the bar snacks category, but is every inch worthy of a fine dining experience. There is very little hyperbole involved when I describe the hot garlic-heavy butter as providing a sexy slap around the face as it trickles down the throat. Best potted shrimp in London? Just maybe...

Perfectly crisp fried squid further proves the chef’s skills, while a selection of lunch-oriented (but good anytime) stuffed, hollowed out loaves that take the place of a traditional sandwich show no lack of imagination. The green Thai curry version is just that: a proper curry encased in bread, making a bold change from flavour-shy sandwich fillings.

Portions are hefty and you’ll leave having gained more pounds than you’ve spent. Having heard on the grapevine that the lamb burger and Sunday roasts are worth separate trips, I’m already planning a return visit for what I couldn’t fit in. Perhaps a venture to the clubbier upstairs lounge is in order, too. Though if busy isn’t your thing, then it may be best to stick to weekday evenings.

Electric Social, 40 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5SP

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