This week, we’re throwing our weekly comment column over to you lot – those of you who live in or spend time in Brixton, at least: what do you think about Brixton Market’s newest impending opening – a champagne bar and bistro?
The debate around SW9’s rapid gentrification has long been a local obsession. We can’t get through a shared cup of tea or a chat in a shop without drifting onto the thorny topic – and while few would begrudge many of the new, hardworking indy businesses their success, there is fevered talk of a “tipping point” as the likes of Conde Nast Traveller salivate over Brixton’s “Lower East Side vibe”, and even the Daily Mail describes Brixton as “up and coming”.
In March this year, The Brixton Society – in response to Lambeth Council’s consultation on the draft Brixton Supplementary Planning Document – commented that: “There is nothing wrong with having some bars and cafes in a market area…however Brixton’s unique market character can only be preserved if it remains essentially a retail market.”
And we can’t help but agree.
Even Jay Rayner, who wrote that he’d previously been accused of being a “one-man gentrification machine” locally, expressed concern in his mournful Observer review of Wishbone. And it’s not just locals talking about it. At the start of this year, ES Magazine devoted several of its glossy pages not to the predictable “Brixton’s hip” angle you might expect from the aspirational title, but to ambivalence about the effect of “hip” on the area’s community.
So it’s no wonder that the hot topic buzzing around the postcode in recent weeks has been what is arguably the most incongruous new opening to date. Imminently arriving among the greencrocers’ stalls, butchers and shops selling pots and pans is branch number two of Covent Garden’s upscale Champagne + Fromage. The new “shop and bistro” is taking over the spot occupied until last week by Faiz Food Store, on the “Village” side of the market, and is due to open on 15 September.
So what do you reckon…? Have you been to the central London original? How do you think it will fit in – and fare – in Brixton Market? Share your thoughts in the comment section, tweet us @belowtheriver or have your say on our Facebook page.
Words & Brixton Market photos: Kate Burt