A gem in the heart of East London

Since our five last weeks here in London have started we realised that this is the last chance to explore more of London. It turned to a kind of panic which is almost paralysing us because we don’t know what to do first. Michael is full of plans and permanently talks about everything he still wants to see. My pregnancy me is giving him amused looks, hoping that he will relax and telling him that we can always come back to lovely London.

The delusion of getting the most out of our last five weeks in London brought us another glorious meal at a wonderful place on Friday evening. After a tough week at work we decided to pamper ourselves with a dinner at the Brawn. We passed this restaurant so many times in the last three weeks thinking that we really want to taste their wines and their food that it was an easy decision. It doesn’t look very glamorous from outside – almost inconspicious as if it wants to tell people to pass by and not to come in. Only if you take a second glance or if you have an eye for these kind of places you will see that this restaurant is a gem.

dinner at the brawn

The interior is quite simple and so is the menu. But the selection of wine is tremendous!! If I would’t have been in standby modus due to the fact that I am five months pregnant I am pretty sure Michael and I would have gone for a bottle of orange or yellow/oxidative wine. We went for wine by the glass instead but were not disappointed at all. We were surprised that the waiter was not only very kind but also incredibly competent. After we had a look at the menu and were ready to order Michael asked him for a wine by the glass which would be a good match. And all of the sudden this mousy looking guy starts talking about the wine he would recommend (with the most adorable french accent) with such a passion that both of us just stared at him for a minute sucking up all information possible. We were melting away and it was quite obvious that we would buy everything he would sell us.

As Michael went for pig brawn as a starter our waiter recommended a glass of the 2011 Braucol from the Domaine Plageoles.

2011 braucol

Braucol is a very old variety and also known as Fer Servadou. It produces a wine high in colour, full bodied and rustic. The wine reminded us a lot of our not very famous Regent which is also known for its healthy aromatic grapes. Nevertheless, the 2011 Braucol pleased us with a lightness and fruitiness which fit perfectly to the salty pig brawn.

pig brawn

It made the wine taste even sweeter and smoother than we expected. We learned that wine generally doesn’t go well with salty food (really?). But this one was a huge win! The fact that this is not a wine made in mass production made it even more delicious. The winemakers (father and son) believe that mass production cannot deliver good quality. It is for this reason that they rather spend their time exploring long-lost grape varieties.

snails on toast with bacon

As a main dish Michael went wild and chose snails on toast with bacon. Even for this rustic hearty dish our brilliant waiter found a perfect wine match. He recommended an untypical Merlot with just the right sharpness to cope with the spiciness of the ham and the chives. Although my main dish was not hearty at all I drank as much of the wine as Michael did. I had beetroot risoni with goat cheese which made me feel like in heaven. The sweet beetroot and the salty, creamy goat cheese were a perfect match. Together with the nuttiness of the rocket salad it made me want to stay forever.

beetroot risoni and goats cheese

Unfortunately we were so delighted by the food and the wine that we forgot the name of the second wine (shame on us). But this is of course a very good excuse for the next dinner reservation (which we already booked for next Friday!).

This might sound like a very fancy experience but it was absolutely simple which we both loved about it. The food was simple, the interior was simple, the employees were simple, even the wine was kind of simple. Nevertheless there was this love for the detail and for quality food and wine which totally fascinated me: The willingness to invest time, passion, care and thought into a concept, an experience. It makes you feel at home rather than dining in a restaurant.

If you are living in London or visiting London I highly recommend this place as an outstanding experience. It is not easy to get a table but you can book online. We can also recommend its sister restaurants the Green Man & French Horn and the Terroirs Wine Bar.

  2 Replies to “A gem in the heart of East London”

  1. May 13, 2013 at 13:42

    To my great shame despite living in London I’ve never been to any of this fine family of restaurants, though I’ve tried to get into Terroirs a few times. They all sound very emphatically up my street, though I must say it would help if they opened one literally up my street. Brawn’s a bit out of the way, but there’s no excuse with the other two…

    • Michael Voelker
      May 13, 2013 at 14:25

      If you order a bottle from Olivier Cousin you might well get it served from his son who is working at the Terroir – I met him at the real wine fair 🙂

      Advantage Brawn is that you have basically no tourists but the Terroir has the most amazing wine menu and let me have a sip here and there before ordering a glass/bottle.

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