Buried deep in the heart of Brixton at the less salubrious end of Atlantic Road and away from the domination of homemade burgers, artisan breads and organic vegetables from Brixton Village is unpretentious “urban retreat” Lounge. Promising comfort away from the chaos, Lounge offers a range of café food as well as a selection of beers, wines and cocktails for the after hours.
Smart on the outside, inside it’s a different story at Lounge. Walls look like they need a good lick of paint. Old light fittings pepper the ceiling at the front area of the cafe and an ice cream chest freezer is bizarrely out on show beside the inadequately small bar. This means that you can’t stand and talk at the bar and are instead forced to sit at one of the many tables in the single-floor, open-plan room. Squashy sofas attempt to redeem the feng shui, creating a more intimate vibe over in the far left-hand corner of the room.
The staff are undoubtedly Lounge's biggest asset. Charming, friendly and helpful, it's a shame that they’re the only thing truly shining in this venue. However, Lounge proves to be a popular stop-off for local clientele and often numerous couples can be turned away when all tables are taken, especially so on Orange Wednesdays at Ritzy Cinema round the corner. Lively Brixton locals are another source of entertainment, viewed through the large sash windows of the building.
Listed on slightly sticky laminated menus, the food choice at Lounge is pub grub meets local café, with a wannabe upmarket twist. Alongside your standard burger options for around the £8 mark (£5.50 on a Monday), there's a brunch menu, kids menu, express lunch menu for around a fiver, and appetisers. Choose wisely; the chilli prawns came overdone, tough and chewy with a cloying, out-of-the-packet sauce. A range of mains centre around kofta, falafel and meat. From the burger menu, the fish goujon burger (£8) - a glorified fish finger sandwich - is average, whilst the smoked salmon, avocado, onion and parmesan salad (£7.95) is a reasonable choice, but hardly a work of exceptional culinary skill. If quick, easy food is what you’re after then perhaps Lounge is a good enough choice. The prices however, do not reflect the standard of what is served.
Lounge offers a fairly standard range of beers, spirits, wines and a range of cocktails for between the £6-8 mark. There is nothing particularly outstanding on offer, but there are a few decent beers in the mix. A pint will set you back around £4.50, and you can choose from Kozel, Grolsch, Guiness or US wheat beer Blue Moon. The wine list is short and sweet, and while the house white (£13) is drinkable, it’s not a stand-out option - you’d be better off going for the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£19). Cocktails are fun and flavoursome with colourful names such as Angel Face and Bikini Martini, though the Loungers Delight is tipped to be the one to beat. Happy hour certainly draws in the drinkers in Brixton and perhaps this is also to account for Lounge’s popularity.
The Last Word
It would be disingenuous to say that Lounge is a must-visit venue. The food lets it down, as does its neglected interior. The central Brixton location is undoubtedly one of the most appealing factors though, along with the very pleasant team of staff. While it’s not a place to impress a friend, if plain, simple and unpretentious after-work drinking is on the agenda then by all means pay Lounge a visit.