Tag Archives: London restaurant review

BRAWN, Columbia Road, London

The food: honest, local, simple, educated, with a nod to tradition (British and French). Meat heavy but the clue’s in the name…..

The wine: sourced from small growers who work sustainably, organically or bio-dynamically in the vineyard….a 90 bin list to choose from, but we managed…

Wow, all the monkfish values in one restaurant, this was music to my ears. We’ve wanted to dine at Brawn for ages so on our last trip to London we made a beeline for Columbia Road – it was eerily quiet on a Friday night compared to the frenetic goings on during Sunday morning and the infamous flower market.  However, Brawn has a brilliant location, smack bang on a corner in quite literally the middle of everything if ‘everything’ was going on.

The signage is subtle but cool, white chalk paint on a brick, blink and you’d miss it. This styling sets the tone for what’s inside.  Wooden tables, school chairs, cool artwork, exposed brick, industrial lighting, and naturally very cool customers. It is suitably hip but far enough away for the Hoxton trendies to form only part of the clientele. Yes, everyone is pretty much beautiful and super cool but there’s a good mix of people and the joint is jumping with people standing at the bar munching bar snacks and drinking wine.

The menu consists of ‘plates’.  Brilliant, that means we can order more than one dish each….after a two week tour of Andalucia and a tapas habit we can’t seem to break this was good news. First up comes some fantastic sourdough bread baked locally which is simply delicious. Good start. With so much choice on the menu this was going to be tricky but we were up for it and gave it a good stab. The menu ran like this….’Taste Tickler’, ‘Pig’, ‘Cold’, ‘Hot’, ‘Pudding&Cheese’…and with a bottle of Verdicchio (£21.50) on its way we ordered….

From ‘Pig‘ we had Saucisson Sec Noir de Bigorre (£7)….melt in your mouth charcuterie…

from ‘Cold‘ we had Smoked Mackerel, Celeriac Remoulade (£6)…fantastic flavours…

from ‘Hot‘ we had Atlantic Cod, Chick Peas, Paprika & Aioli (£16)…perfectly cooked fish with the right balance of garlic and paprika, a classic combination but delivered brilliantly…

and Spatchcock’d Quail, Pomegranate and Pistachio (£10)….and Baked Field Mushrooms, Bone Marrow, Garlic and Bacon (£8.50).  You can’t visit a restaurant called Brawn and not partake in a spot of offal….is bone marrow classed as offal? Answers in the comments below….could spark a debate!

Believe it or not after all of the above we did make it to ‘Puddings&Cheese’ although had to share a chocolate mousse (£5), well and truly stuffed.

From the restaurateurs who have previously brought us Terroirs in Charing Cross and more recently Soif in Battersea, Brawn gets it right for us. It’s a gem, a return visit is pending…soon.

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Square Meal

St John’s Bread and Wine, Spitalfields….

St John’s Bread and Wine
talks my language –  local, seasonal, simple sustenance, showcasing the best that Blighty has to offer.  The original St John’s restaurant at Smithfields was opened in 1994 by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver and Bread and Wine followed in 2003.

This is British food done properly and for those of us the wrong side of our thirties the menu will take you straight back to the good old days when all we wanted for tea was a slice of pork pie with a dab of Colman’s mustard and a few pickled onions. Continue reading