Nestled on Coldharbour Lane, right in the middle of Brixton, used to be this little café called Three Little Birds. It was a cute spot that celebrated Caribbean cuisine – I regularly used to pop in for its fiery jerk wings, as well as a really, really good flat white. But now in its place, from the same owner, April Jackson, is Wood & Water, described as a 'modern British restaurant with Jamaican soul'. Basically, it's had a glow-up, and I just couldn't wait to check it out.
The restaurant has had a stunning makeover, boasting velvet, teal seating, botanical wallpaper and marble-style tabletops. And the intimate lighting? It totally screamed date night vibes. As it was a very warm June day, my partner and I decided to refresh ourselves with a couple of cocktails. I went for the pimento old fashioned (£11), which was a rum-based twist on the classic, mixing Plantation Barbados Five Year with a pimento dram and chocolate bitters. Garnished with an orange peel twirl, it was both subtle and rich at the same time (I know that's an oxymoron, but there you go). My boyfriend instead went for the pistachio sour (£11). This married Plantation Three Star with pistachio milk, lemon and foam. While small in size, it packed a punch, tasting a little like a heady sorbet.
The food menu was divided into earth, land and sea. We wanted to try a couple of dishes from each, with our first being the watermelon with goats cheese, fennel and apple (£9.50). This was like nothing I'd ever tried before, showcasing was such an interesting mix of textures and flavours; the watermelon was slightly charred, bringing out a delicious sweetness, and came with a blue cheese cracker that complemented it beautifully. We also went for the slow-cooked goat croquettes, served alongside plantain ketchup (£9). These were absolutely mega. It was like a sumptuous curried goat stew, transformed into an upmarket plate of tapas. The meat was so tender it melted away in your mouth, while the outside of the croquette was crisped to perfection. At the same time, we received plantain accompanied by butter beans, ginger and pineapple (£7.50). While I honestly think you can't go wrong with plantain, this was even better than expected.
After stuffing our faces with the first round of dishes, we realised we were ready for more drinks. I opted for one of the Favela Chics (£11), which was a summery combo of Abelha cachaca, plum wine, chamomile and bubbles. It tasted like a light tonic, with the plum and chamomile really shining through. My boyfriend decided to tip back the St. Elizabeth martini (£12). This saw Porters Tropical Old Tom mingling among Caribbean pineapple liqueur and an acid blend, garnished with a blob of herb oil which stayed perfectly in the middle. This was like a martini without the olive and was seriously boozy (but that's how we like 'em, right?).
Next up, came the seabass (£13), cooked beautifully with a deeply crispy skin. It came in a subtle broth that included little chunks of carrot, pumpkin and samphire. The salted cod with ackee (£13) came with salsa on top and a few slices of bammy to mop it up - it was very succulent compared to how I usually have it. We also ordered the goat loin (£22). While I usually like my meat rare, I feel like goat is one of those that you need to cook through – otherwise, it’s quite tough, like it was in this case. Nevertheless, the apricot flavours and the texture of the lentils sang beautifully in this dish. To finish things off with a bang, we were recommended the banoffee (£8.5), a captivating dessert with chocolate and pecans that was gobbled up embarrassingly quick.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I love that Wood & Water has turned Jamaican food into tapas; it was unlike anything I've ever had before. Every dish was totally unique and the cocktails - well, I couldn't get enough. And if you're looking for a cool date night spot in Brixton, I reckon this would certainly earn you a place in the good books. And me? I'm deffo going to return ASAP to make my way through the rest of the cocktail list.
💰 The damage: £105.50 for two with cocktails.
📍 The location: 412 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LF
👌 Perfect for: Slinky date nights.
⭐ Need to know: I've also heard on the grapevine that this joint slings out an epic brunch.