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Living in Croydon means that you often find yourself the butt of jokes such as, “What the best thing in Croydon? – the train leaving it”. Parts are indeed pretty urban and gritty, whilst the bit I live in is back-to-back public schools, green space, golf courses, and large houses. This means that we are constantly re-assuring each other that Croydon is about to be up-and-coming, but the long awaited Westfield that is due to replace the rather tired Whitgift Centre seems to be moving further and further away, due to open 2017 it seems 2020 is more likely. The Boxpark adjacent to East Croydon station seemed at risk earlier this year too, due to open in the summer, it was eventually October before the doors were opened.
For one reason or another, despite our intentions to go, we just hadn’t got around it. So the invite to review one of the food purveyors was very welcome indeed. Carioca has been established in Brixton since 2012 serving up a taste of Brazilian sunshine to SW9, and it’s now the turn of Croydon to experience the fun. The menu at Croydon is more focused on street food to go with drinks rather than a restaurant experience. This fits in with the sociable side of the Boxpark ethos, where customers drink and eat communally.
The inside of the unit is small and vibrant, with some fun quirky decorations. I found myself googling the amazing lamp holders.
We started with a glass of Brazils’ national cocktail, the caipirinha. Once prescribed for patients of the Spanish Flu, Brazilians say that it’s still the best way to stay healthy and happy! From Monday to Thursday there is a 2 for 1 offfer on the caipirinhas.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the food, my stereotypical thought was that it would be all about the meat. What followed was far more varied than hunks of meat. We started with beef croquettes and chicken croquettes served with churrasco sauce, these would be perfect as a bar snack. The mighty Pele beef rib steak sandwich arrived next, this also included the churrasco sauce, chicken, pineapple and red cabbage slaw topped with Gloucester cheese, bacon, crispy onion and sweet potato shaving and a fried egg in a brioche bun. Served with chips. My companion adored this, and I let him have the lions share. The Pele, chips, and a beer can be had for £10 every Thursday.
My favourite item was the Feijoada which is Brazil’s national dish. A satisfying stew of black beans cooked with chorizo, pork ribs, beef and lean pork, bay leaves and spices. This was perfect for a chilly night, really hearty, tasty comfort food.
I left feeling extremely full, but delighted to have discovered a new cuisine and to have finally visited Boxpark.