If you head to the West Quay watermark you shall find plenty of places to stop and grab anything from a quick coffee to a three course meal – but there are still some surprises to be discovered further afield. Nestled in the heart of Bedford Place, you will find Southampton’s first Mauritian street kitchen Lakaz Maman*. Opened in 2016 by Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo, Lakaz Maman translates to Mum’s House in Creole and showcases authentic Mauritian street food with a modern twist.
Shelina had no professional experience before appearing on Masterchef, she learnt entirely on the job with her passion for food really shining through. She wowed judges John and Gregg with her tropical take on gourmet cuisine before going on to win the show in 2012. Since then she has written two cookery books – Sunshine on a Plate and The Sunshine Diet – alongside opening her first restaurant in her hometown.
With the help of her friends and family, Shelina and her husband Rachid began renovating an old derelict chicken shop which became their very own home away from home. They describe it as a real labour of love as so much time, patience and passion was invested into the re-imagining of this unused space. Now a buzzing restaurant with a vibrant atmosphere, the eclectic interior creates a bright yet intimate environment which is all about the food. The open brickwork, tropical colours and exposed lighting all help highlight the bright Mauritian soul that is to be found here. Combined with the aromas of the dishes being served and prepared, its not long before you feel transported far away.
On a grey and dreary Sunday we were whisked away to the bright and vibrant streets of Mauritius through an intimate brunch session hosted by Shelina in collaboration with Southampton Bloggers. The brunch allowed us to discover their tantalising new breakfast menu while spending the morning nattering away with a bunch of lovely, local bloggers. Shelina herself has such a warm, welcoming aura, after a quick introduction to the menu, her team and the concept behind the restaurant we were left to take everything in while the team whipped up our brunch.
The relaxed and informal menu offers culinary treats from Shelina’s heritage with the breakfast menu featuring 7 classical dishes with their own unique twist. The menu is easy to navigate with dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options highlighted throughout so it couldn’t be easier to find something suitable for everyone. Every item on the breakfast menu is priced at £6.95 and it’s served Thursday to Sunday from 8.30am to midday. Preferring savoury over sweet I opted for the Breakfast Torpedo which comprised of turkey bacon, chicken sausages, Mauritian salsa, breakfast muffin and fried egg. It was a firm favourite amongst the group alongside the sweetcorn fritters and cinnamon toast with coconut and tropical fruits. The food was simply divine and I was surprised how well the assortment of flavours worked together.
I also tried the breakfast eggs which consisted of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce served with a warm roti which completely blew me away. The spicy sauce had a slight kick but was easily manageable for my wimpy tastebuds. For the not so feint hearted you can add a splash of the homemade mango and lime chilli sauce or piment crazer which are both made in house and available to take home. I was dubious about how the roti would work with a breakfast item but I was pleasantly surprised at how this complimented the sauce.
To wash down the food there was a choice of Alooda vanilla which is a coconut milk drink with rose water and basil seeds, or Panakon – Mauritian lemon and tamarind drink with a hint of ginger. I am not keen on ginger and although I tried this it wasn’t for me. The Alooda vanilla on the other hand was delicious although I wasn’t keen on the texture of the basil seeds. The drinks menu has a range of delicious mocktails, iced tea’s and exotic juices, offering the perfect pairing for a spicy street food feast. I am dying to head back and sample the freakshakes as these have been on my radar for a while now.
After a delicious brunch we had a small Q&A session with Shelina where we discussed Masterchef, the creation of Lakaz Maman and future plans for the brand. Family and food are at the heart of this budding eatery which is evident from the eclectic decor and simply from talking to Shelina herself. This isn’t just another chain you’ll see lining our high streets, it is the brain child of Shelina and Rachid with so much attention to detail and careful consideration poured into every last aspect of the decor and menu. Lakaz Maman are celebrating their two year anniversary this month and if you haven’t already visited, I highly recommend you do so.
*Complimentary meal in exchange for review. No affiliation with Lakaz Maman. All opinions, as always, are my own.