A khamsa is a hand-shaped amulet used in many cultures to ward off bad luck.
And if you come to eat at this Khamsa, you’ll note your good fortune immediately.
Planted on the long stretch of Long Acre between Brixton and Clapham, it’s a family-run jewel in what’s otherwise a bit of a culinary dustbowl. It’s run by a couple who quit their jobs to bring Londoners an authentic taste of Algerian cuisine, and this homely ethos is woven into the restaurant (quite literally, in the case of the hand-made blankets and rugs).
The interiors are breathtaking – lit almost entirely by candles, Khamsa is an intimate den with sweeps of traditional throws and sheer curtains; low, beautifully engraved silver tables; patterned rugs and Algerian instruments adorning the walls. It behoves a romantic meal for two as well as a convivial group meal. Put simply, it’s special.
Open for lunch and dinner, Khamsa is known for its Berber-style pancakes, a North African classic. Fluffy, puffy, and porous, they’re a bit like stretched-out crumpets, and absolutely delicious stuffed with spiced, savoury fillings boosted with Merguez sausage, grilled peppers or tuna. As the sun sets, the focus moves to tajines, here made with hand-rolled couscous and served in elegant pots loaded with chicken breast, chilli-marinated salmon, seasonal veg (topped with deep-fried leeks) or spicy lamb meatballs. Call up the day before, and they’ll set to preparing you their signature dish, rechta – a quintessential Algerian dish made with flat noodles, chicken and a warming, fragrant sauce.
Cakes are a big deal in Algeria, and Khamsa duly delivers. With small-batches handmade every day, they span squidgy almond cakes to baklava and nougat. Owner Djamal will likely give you a spoonful of something he’s working on earlier in the evening. And you can wash it all down with mint tea, or some wine we just know you’re going to love.
Because you brought it.
NOTE: Khamsa is open for lunch Thurs-Sun, and dinner Tues-Sun. You can find out more, and book a table, HERE. Please note BYOB corkage is £2.50pp.
Khamsa | 140 Acre Lane, London SW2 5UT
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