Culinary discovery in the early days of Boxpark

By - Tuesday 29th November, 2016

Ian Marvin went hunting in Croydon’s newest smorgasbord and came away satisfied

Photo author’s own.

I approached the slow emergence of Boxpark with some scepticism, especially with regard to the ever-shifting opening date. The last minute appearance of a lonely JCB on the site around the end of February this year didn’t help either. However, since it opened (as I write, three weeks ago) I must have been there more than ten times, and only one or two of those was for a quick pint in the uncompromisingly rough and ready – but endearingly lager-free – Cronx Bar. The latter has become a bit of a favourite, not least because rather like Matthews Yard it’s almost impossible to pop in without bumping into someone you know, or at the very least recognise. Even some of the bar staff seem to have been recycled from other well-known Croydon haunts.

Photo author’s own.

It was a cold evening a couple of Thursdays back when I found myself in possession of a couple of tickets to the dubstep evening which in the end turned out to be in the Boxbar at the station end of the development. In those early days it was unclear whether entry to the whole enclosed part required tickets, as was the case for the opening festival weekend. I’d taken in the NME event on the Sunday having passed on the opportunity to pay good money for the Eskimo Dance grime extravaganza. Fortunately Paul Dennis covered that most effectively so that the rest of us didn’t have to, for which we should be grateful. Of the acts I saw on the Sunday, the Nova Twins in particular stood out, think Rage Against The Machine with a female London vibe.

Having arrived in good time and managing to rendezvous with an equally hungry friend, we set about deciding where to eat. It was certainly a bonus to be eating with someone decisive as my fears of having to check more than thirty different menus were unfounded. ‘Fixed’ can hardly be considered a chain, its first and only other branch opened in Northcote Road near Clapham Junction earlier this year. It manages to differentiate itself from the other smaller units at Boxpark by being aimed solely at eat-in diners, managing to provide a cosy environment out of two adjoining shipping containers. ‘Fixed’ is based on the typical French prix fixe principle, although with a slight departure as you are able to choose freely from starters (£5), mains (£10), sides (£4) and desserts (£3), the fixed element being that each of these are priced identically. The starters failed to appeal so we launched straight into the mains.

My companion’s choice of grilled corn-fed chicken was reported to be tasty, with its amarillo chilli marinade and served with freekeh pilaf

Even though I was beginning to thaw out from the cold outside, I couldn’t resist flat iron steak on a bed of puy lentils, which was served with garlic and tarragon butter. A side of root vegetable gratin rounded things off nicely; the steak was cooked perfectly in accordance to my requirements. My companion’s choice of grilled corn-fed chicken was reported to be tasty, with its amarillo chilli marinade and served with freekeh pilaf. Her choice of green beans with shallots and mustard also proved to be a sound one. We both elected to have large glasses of house red wine, perfectly palatable and fair value at £6.50 for 250ml. A shared dessert of ‘vertical whipped mango cheesecake’, which turned out to be a cheesecake in a sundae glass, finished things off. The total bill of £44 seems to be pretty good value for what was good quality food, cooked well.

Photo author’s own.

By the time the Sunday arrived I was ready to look at less expensive options, and in the realm of Boxpark there are few choices if you want to satisfy your hunger and get much change from a tenner. Greek on the Street is a new venture from the small The Real Greek chain and is also outside of the main Boxpark arena, facing onto Dingwall Road.

I’m sure this will make it a good option for local office workers especially as their standard offering of Greek flatbread served with a variety of options starts at £4.95. I opted for a healthy falafel but perhaps undermined it with a side of chips with feta, which added £2 to the total. All delicious, and washed down with a pint of the Alpha Omega lager which is brewed specially for the group by Shepherd Neame. Meat options are freshly prepared to order and offer a far wider variety, there being a choice of four fillings once you have decided which meat or sausage you want. Their focus is on authenticity and fresh ingredients, and larger meals are available either to eat on the premises or as a Greek Box to take away. I’m looking forward to returning soon to try the rest of the menu.

By the way, the dubstep in the Boxbar turned out to be pretty good.

Ian Marvin

Ian Marvin

Ian is a product designer who moved to the borough in 2003. His interests in all things Croydon stretch from being on the committee of the Constructing Excellence Croydon Club to active membership of the Croydon Clandestine Cake Club. During the day he works on his interior lighting businesses which are also based in Croydon. In the unlikely event that he has any leisure time, he enjoys creating ceramic pieces and playing bass guitar. Any opinions expressed here are personal.

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