58 Willesden Lane
020 7372 1972
Rumours of this blog's demise are greatly exaggerated. I went to Georgia and Armenia, ate cartoonish quantities of khachapuri, and became utterly stuck in Yerevan (thanks, Eyjafjallajökull). I turned 30, went to Berlin, got the flu and spent a week feeling like crap. I took on two full-time jobs and a load of freelancing. But in between the coughing, ageing, toiling and cursing Iceland I managed to take my hungry little Norwegian brother to The Spot.
The Spot claims to be London's first soul food joint. I have little doubt that it's London's first Islamic soul food place - the menu is Halal. By opening on Willesden Lane earlier this year, it bolsters my claim that Kilburn is the centre of the universe. This place is great.
It's as no frills as can be; five tables, a few stools and a TV tuned to MTV Base. The walls are covered in colourful cartoons of a matronly mama carrying pots of gumbo and plates piled high with steaming cornbread. When the door to the kitchen opened, we saw a woman who didn't look unlike her. According to the man at the counter, she's a bona fide American from the southern states. The lady knows her mash from her mac 'n' cheese.
After a wait of nearly 20 minutes - The Spot could do with some extra help in the kitchen - our food arrived. The chicken in my gumbo had a browned, caramelised glaze and the sweet, honeyed sauce was densely packed with okra, chorizo and cornbread that crumbled at the touch of a plastic fork. I didn't have room to finish the Cajun fritters, made with saltfish in a spicy batter. The Norwegian plumped for the beef gumbo, which wasn't quite as delicious. Both portions were huge.
I can't wait to return to try their fried chicken and sweet waffles, a dish I've only had once before. My meal here, back in the heady days of summer 2001, was one I'll never forget.