The Artworks is a little complex of offices and bars tucked away in an unsavoury part of Elephant & Castle (as if there is another part..) It’s part of the shipping container trend that’s surfaced of late, following Boxpark but predating Pop Brixton, and is part of the long overdue regeneration of the whole area. Saying that, if The Artworks is a preview of what E&C will be like when it’s finished, I’d be pretty happy to live there (£600,000 1-bed flats aside).
My husband’s company is based there (Ideas Made Digital) and until very recently I was STILL yet to properly try the Mauritian treats from Marcel & Sons, despite the fact that they provided the evening food at our wedding (as expertly reviewed by Jo Eats London).
The menu is small but perfectly formed, with options of buns, dumplings or bol renverse. We tried almost everything on this occasion, and what a feast it was. It’s not a restaurant as such, as they run the whole operation from a shipping container and there’s not room for too much seating, but there are plenty of chairs outside, and some bars there to get the beers in.
Let’s start with the buns (main pic); if you’ve queued for an hour outside Bao on Lexington Street you’ll know – but these are as good if not better. Light, fluffy steamed buns with perfect crispy beef, pickled cucumber, mazavaroo aioli (more on that later) and spring onions.
The bol renverse is a traditional Mauritian dish consisting of layers of rice, veg and meat turned out of a bowl, and topped with a fried egg. I think anything topped with an egg is good, and this chicken version was hearty and packed with flavour and more mazavaroo aioli. Mazavaroo is a super-hot chilli paste served in Mauritius, that’s similar to harissa. It’s perfect with these dishes, adding heat and garlic to the meat, rice and buns. They sell it in jars in the restaurant and at £2.50 it’s well worth a buy!
We also tried the niouk nian, which are steamed dumplings made from the chayote – a hard, livid green vegetable from the same family as melons and squash. It’s quite tough so is generally cooked, and can be treated like a squash or sweet potato. At Marcel & Sons they shred it into spaghetti-like strips and make dumplings which are then steamed. The texture is oddly delicious and the flavours of the herbs and spices used stand out exactly the right amount, you can still taste the chayote. Will definitely be having them again.
I know E&C is a bit of a mission if you’re not in the area, and I’m also aware there’s little else to make the average person want to travel there.. but if you’ve never had Mauritian food and you’re not too far, get down to The Artworks and have a look, it’s well worth the trip.