BRAWN on a Sunday, London

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49 Columbia Road
London E2 7RG

From the team behind the ever popular Covent Garden wine bar Terroirs; comes the “cooler” younger sister Brawn, located on East London’s Columbia Road. Since its opening in late 2010, Brawn has had nothing but positive reviews, and so of course it had to be ticked off Gourmet Belly’s Eat List.

On any other day, the menu comprises of rustic French small plates divided into sections – ‘taste ticklers’, ‘slow cook’, ‘raw’ and a dedicated ‘pig’ section, I guess as a tribute to the restaurants name.

On Sunday’s however, their offering is a 3 course set menu for £25. And with no alternatives for each course, I was taking a bit of a gamble suggesting this East London bistro for a family lunch, but thank god each dish delivered!

A nice little spread of starters arrived. Breakfast radishes and fennel with an Anchoïade dip, the novelty of a globe artichoke with a hollandaise vinaigrette, and a selection of charcuterie consisting of the some salami, brawn terrine and the most deliciously well portioned pork rillette you could ever imagine!

All of this was accompanied by an endless supply of gorgeous sour dough and cornichons. Mmmm…I could have happily continued to mop up the remains of the rillettes if it weren’t for the mains and dessert still to come;  and now, my expectations after these delightful starters were high.

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Next up was the Roast Landaise Chicken. Presented bottoms up with watercress coming out of its backside, it was an impressive example of how a roast chicken should be done – tender and juicy with the skin slightly crispy; and the buttery jersey royals and spring veg which accompanied this perfect chook, were ever so moreish too.

And just as we were about to undo another notch to our belts, two large bowls of mess of the Eton kind were placed on our table along with a cheese board (for an additional £5 supplement).

Both were a great way to cap off the meal, with the only down side being that the cheese didn’t come with any sort of accompaniments. Some chutney, grapes, or quince jelly to compliment the richness of the cheeses would have been ideal, but they did however bring out another basket of sour dough?! Gosh…if only my belly wasn’t already on the verge of explosion!

Overall, the whole dining experience was thoroughly enjoyable.

The restaurant had a great buzz about it. The staff were efficient and particularly knowledgeable on the extensive wine list, but most importantly, the food. Every dish was packed full of flavour, yet simply cooked, allowing the quality of the produce to shine through.

I’ll definitely be back to feed the belly with more of that pig and graze through Brawn’s full menu. Oink!

Did You Know?

  • Historically considered a peasant food made, Brawn is usually made with the unloved (and largely uneaten) bits of a pigs head – tongue, cheeks and nose, which are all boiled and pressed into a rough terrine.
  • Rumour has it that the team behind Brawn and Terroirs are looking at a third branch in Covent Garden/Soho later this year, inspired by the Loire Valley. These guys certainly have some brain and brawn! Watch this space for further updates.

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