Thursday 6 December 2012

Brawn, Columbia Road, East London

An inviting restaurant housed in an elegant early Victorian building, Brawn combines a hip buzz with excellent  earthy food. The front dining room with its big windows and high ceiling is more appealing than the back dining room, but the latter does include the bustling kitchen, providing some much needed warmth on a cold December evening. The bare brick walls, painted white, and the avant-garde art give Brawn the loft-living vibe.  The cover includes a basket of freshly-baked wholemeal ciabatta, but don't eat too much of it because Brawn serves big portions.
A mouthwatering mound of meat
The menu, which changes daily, is divided into Pig, Cold and Hot sections. The first section might include rilette (£6.50) - two large, slightly greasy, pork patties. Served with a pot of pickles, these are very moreish. From the Hot section, look out for the cheddar souffle with leaks and salad (£11) - a delicious dish. And check out the fat, juicy mussels (£8), drenched in a fine garlic, cream and parsley soup. The quirky oxtail "faggot" (£12), served with a decent swede and potato mash, combines all kinds of animal parts into a mouthwatering mound of meat, which tastes a bit like steak and kidney pie. But avoid the scallops (£5 each), served on a large shell with a parsnip puree, which can be a bit rubbery. A 500ml bottle of 2011 Cuvée des Galets, Vignerons d’Estézargues, Côtes du Rhône (£12.50) is a good accompaniment to the red meat on offer and very drinkable for the price. The service is superb - the staff pace the meal precisely, justifying the optional 12.5% charge added to your bill. Bewarned, Brawn specialises in very rich food, so don't over-order. 8/10