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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

From Jollof-spiced chicken in Hackney to Japanese okonomiyaki in Brixton — here’s where to eat this summer weekend

Camille Mack/Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen at the Institute of Light

A new stage has been set for Zoe Adjonyoh’s cooking — on the sunny terrace by the Institute of Light cinema in London Fields. It’s bigger and brighter and more agile than her previous residencies at POP Brixton and the Sun & 13 Cantons, which were fun but didn’t give her enough room to show off what she describes as her ‘remixed African flavours’. Adjonyoh, both loathing waste and adoring creativity, has made about 40 dishes using 10-12 bases, including so many treats: From buttermilk poached tilapia, to rosemary and baobab corn, Jollof rice, and prizewinning strips of Jollof-spiced chicken breast to dip in crayfish mayonnaise. That said, for those only there for snacks and a film, order some popcorn coated in kelewele and baobab butters, some crispy suya halloumi and coconut plantain, and head straight into a portion of scotch bonnet ice cream. Not everyone’s used to chilli-flavoured ices but this one’s only slightly tingly, and with one bite accesses a pureed mango middle, a tangy prick of hibiscus sorbet, and a base of sweet chin chin biscuits. —Victoria Stewart
The Institute of Light Arch 376, 10 Helmsley Place, E8 3SB

The Lido Cafe

“Britain set to bask in 30C HEATWAVE next week” scream the headlines. If past Junes are anything to go by, this is all the encouragement that south London will need to fling itself into the waters of Brockwell Lido. Skip the queue, and the inevitable fight for a spot on the decking, by booking a table at The Lido Cafe. There’s an all-killer-no-filler brunch menu (Cajun-spiced breakfast potatoes with poached eggs and fresh greens, banana bread French toast, Gloucester Old spot sausage bap with spicy ketchup), plus seasonal salads and burgers. Expect to eat to a soundtrack of screams: Brockwell is unheated, and at time of going to press the water was a bracing 21.5C. —Emma Hughes
The Lido Cafe, Dulwich Road, SE24 0PA

Okan

Diners are spoilt for choice at Brixton Village Market, but Okan specialises in the Osakan street food known as okonomiyaki, the fat Japanese pancake where almost any ingredient goes into the batter mix (okonomiyaki means ‘grill as you like it’). Chef and founder Moto-san has been flipping okonomiyaki round Brick Lane since 2002, but it’s in Brixton she’s found her groove, naming Okan after the Osakan slang for “Mother” and expanding her menu to a range of fried noodle dishes, including omusoba, rarely seen on these shores, comprising yakisoba noodles wrapped in omelette. Nevertheless, most people come for the pancakes, drizzled with addictive Kewpie mayonnaise and garnished with dancing bonito flakes, with the “Okan Special” of prawn, squid, kimchi and sweetcorn proving most popular with the crowds.

There’s seating inside the charming unit, but diners can sit on the benches ‘outside’ to be in the midst of the fun and lively market, and work their way through the wide selection of Japanese drinks available including sake, plum wine, and three types of beer. —MiMi Aye
Okan, Unit 39, Brixton Village, SW9 8PR

Milk

A cobblestoned amble from Balham station, Milk is easy to spot: a throng of al fresco diners and eager queuers snakes down Hildreth Street market. Coffee is from Berlin roasters The Barn, made well and quickly, with an enviable collection of loose-leaf teas. Order of the day though, is brunch. The model is “eat” rather than “do”, with ingredients front and centre and at least one element per dish that could require a furtive under-the-table-google. Look out for mainstays that change constantly: pancakes might feature alphonso mango, black lime and Amalfi lemon posset; soft serve could involve meadowsweet or black cardamom. This innovation, paired with matchless sourcing, is worn with a light shrug rather than a heavy mither and difficulty never supersedes deliciousness; even more importantly, the irreverence never feels inhospitable. It’s easy to see how easily new visitors convert to acolytes: a single trip could easily lead to a weekly pilgrimage, especially with a menu that wins for its confidence in flux. —James Hansen
18-20 Bedford Hill, SW12 9RG

Marina The Greek

One of the few Palmers Green restaurants that’s mainland Greek rather than Cypriot: Marina does specialises in gyros. Here pork is stacked on a spit in a similar way to Mexican ‘al pastor’ and shaved off, wrapped in fluffy pitta (texturally a world away from stiffer Cypriot or Turkish versions) and stuffed with salad, sauces and — most pleasurably, sinfully of all — fresh chips. A regular portion costs £4: a lunch of kings. Although it also does the usual souvlaki/souvla barbecue options, it would be wiser still to try some of the homecooked specialities — rabbit stifado, pastitsio (baked pasta with white cheese), and the delicious kokoretsi. Usually only served by the other Palmers Green tavernas at Easter, this mixture of different lamb offals wrapped in intestine is intermittently available most evenings, and shouldn’t be missed. —Jonathan Nunn
380 Green Lanes, N13 5PD

Milk

18-20 Bedford Hill, , England SW12 9RG 020 8772 9085 Visit Website

Mother

Battersea Power Station, London, SW11 8AB Visit Website

Institute of Light

376, 10 Helmsley Place, London , E8 3SB Visit Website

Rabbit

172 King's Road, , England SW3 4UP 020 3750 0172 Visit Website

Marina The Greek

380 Green Lanes, , England N13 5PD 020 8882 2229

The Lido Cafe

Dulwich Road, , England SE24 0PA 020 7737 8183 Visit Website

Pop Brixton

49 Brixton Station Road, , England SW9 8PQ 020 3879 8410 Visit Website

The Sun & 13 Cantons

21 Great Pulteney Street, London , W1F 9NG Visit Website

Lamb

94 Lamb's Conduit Street, , England WC1N 3LZ 020 7405 0713 Visit Website

Okan

Brixton Village, Brixton, Greater London SW9 8PS Visit Website

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