At first, I thought it was the company.

I was having such a lovely time- perhaps one of the loveliest- it had to be about the company.

There I was on Columbia Road in East London, a late summer’s evening, with sunlight slanting through broad windows. Flanking me were three spectacular male specimens. One, I’m lucky enough to be married to. The other two have become surrogate family in London.

Seven years ago one of them lived with my sister when she had her turn over here. Three years ago, they both flew to Sydney to help capture our wedding. Since then they helped convince us to move to London. They’ve been ready participants  in Oscars festivals and helped us ski over borders. They’re equal parts brilliant and dashing.

In fact they’re so dashing that I spend more time getting ready for an engagement with them than for date-night with The Hungry One ( I think this hurts his feelings a little, but he copes). 

But there’s another reason I was having a lovely time.

It’s because of the food.

Brawn is the cousin of one of my favoured spots in London; Terroir. It has been my go to for carafes of natural wine, platters of charcuterie and catch ups.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Brawn any better. I was wrong.

Whereas downstairs at Terroir can feel somewhat claustrophobic, sealed off from the surrounds of Charring Cross, here at Brawn you’re at one with the hubbub of Columbia Road (and even more so on a Sunday, when the flower markets are in full swing).

There are still lovely natural wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. And if you’re The Hungry One, there are also champagne sized bottles of Normandy cider, made with more than twenty different types of apple.

This is food for sharing across a table, with many hands battling for the lion’s share of the good stuff. Luckily there’s lots of it.

The menu is seasonally inspired and divided into the novelty categories of Taste Ticklers, Pig, Cold, Hot, Puddings and Cheese.

You don’t want to miss the quail’s eggs (£4), soft cooked so the Van Gogh yellow centres dash across your fingertips. Dip them in celery salt and be grateful that someone else has spent the time to shell them for you.

If the season is right there are chunky slabs of heirloom tomatoes; it’s a colour wheel yellow, green, red and orange all come out to play.

There are orbs of burrata- solid around the outside and flooding a plate with cream from the centre. Some punchy olive oil and a shower of lemon zest make the stretch mass of dairy dance in your mouth.

Much of what is grand about Brawn arrives on or with bread. Rustically chopped Tuscan beef may hail  from Italy, but the presentation is French. Transferred onto toast it’s the most manly serving of steak tartare I’ve found.

Then there’s the stupendously great field mushrooms, baked with bone marrow and topped with an Oysters Rockerfeller esque green moss of parsley and Alsace Bacon (£7). The marrow makes the mushrooms meatier, the bacon adds extra punch. It’s a cracker of a dish that jumps with a robust glass of red (though it would also make exceptional hangover fodder).

Then there’s the charcuterie selection. Made in house it’s a quenelle of pork rillettes, melding threads of meat with a blanket of soft fat. There’s a thick and rustic terrine, thin slips of salumi and a pot of cornichons for piquancy. All that for £12, with almost bottomless basket of bread. It’s great value.

The only failure of a dish I’ve had there was a serving of snails, bacon and garlic, which under the tendrils of frisee lettuce were over seasoned to the point of unpleasant saltiness.

Chocolate mousse is my pick of the desserts that filled our table, as dark and sexy as a smirk from Clark Gable.

We had such a lovely time that The Hungry One and I returned to Brawn on our first weekend back in London. We were trying to console ourselves that even though we were thousands of miles away from our family, it was ok to be back in Blighty.

And who should walk in- but one of our boys. We smiled and chastised each other for cheating on each other with Brawn. But we could hardly blame each other for trying to replicate the good times.

Sometimes beautiful nights come from the boys you’re with. Sometimes it’s comes from what’s on the plate. And sometimes, you can be lucky enough to have both.

If you haven’t got enough good brawn in your life- this is your chance to change it.

(020) 7729 5692  

Bethnal Green
49 Columbia Road
London, E2 7

Brawn on Urbanspoon

  1. What a great place to dine in! The restaurant looks lovely so does the food! 🙂

  2. Oof! I've never been to brawn but it's on my wishlist now 🙂 Great to find somewhere in Bethnal Green too…one of my really good friends lives nearby and can't wait to take her!

  3. Great place! Love the rustic serving.

  4. "As dark and sexy as a smirk from Clark Gable"… oh daaahling, I am there!! Thats one sexy chocolate mousse!
    *kisses* HH

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