When Gillett Square in Dalston was spruced up and revitalized a few years back the inspiration was apparently the regeneration of city squares in Barcelona. But Gillett Square and Bradbury Street behind it have a distinctly African flavour. Mama Vic, who runs a plantain parlour on Bradbury Street, turns out delicious and authentic Nigerian food with a helping hand from her gorgeous family.
The ethos of Mama’s is soul food, cooked slow and served fast. While this may look like a fast-food joint, the chicken is gently oven-grilled and stews and rice dishes are lovingly prepared to Mama’s own recipes: mostly Nigerian but with a Caribbean twist. You’ll find goat curry, jerk chicken and BBQ wings, stewed oxtail, fufu and yam porridge on the menu, not to mention Mama’s dumplings and her sauce, made to a secret recipe. Delicious sweet fried plantain accompanies the meat dishes, alongside jollof rice, a West African favourite where rice is combined with tomatoes, onion and spices.
Mama is originally from Nigeria, but has lived in Hackney for over thirty years with her family. And the family are very much part of the equation, helping to cook and serve soul food to the Dalston regulars. They like to promote local businesses, shopping for fresh ingredients on Ridley Road Market: their meat supplier is Kingsway Meat at number 7.
Back on Gillett Square, the long-running Vortex has an impressive programme of nightly jazz and experimental music, while nearby the Rio Cinema, Arcola Theatre and Café Oto pack in a culture-loving crowd. There’s no better way to fuel up for a night out in Dalston than with Mama Vic’s Nigerian specials… Their message is: come down and taste the love for yourself.
Here’s how to make your own goat curry to serve up with fried plantain and rice. For ingredients such as goat, plantain and spices, head to nearby Ridley Road Market, where Mama Vic buys supplies for the café.