Brawn, Restaurant, London, England
London is probably one of those cities almost everyone has been to or still plans to get to at some point. As the capital of the United Kingdom, it is, on one hand, a very international and cosmopolitan city, while on the other hand, it is also the capital of England with strongly English roots– when London was a labor and workers’ town and not only the financial and international hotspot it is today. Right in the center, we mostly know the architecture of such rich, elegant and very wealthy areas as Belgravia – which are very beautiful, without a doubt. Fortunately, areas or districts are constantly developing into new centers of life, areas which were frowned upon twenty or ten years ago as neighborhoods of socially disadvantaged people or as areas in which it was simply unpleasant because of their lagging behind in the overall economic growth or development of the city.
East London has always been one of the poorer areas of London. Not anymore, it seems: it is full of cool places and – to listen to my friends – people like to move there. I was invited to East London by Mac and his wife, to whom I had given some restaurant tips in Berlin some months ago. More specifically, they invited me to a restaurant called “Brawn.” Getting there – for example, if you’re staying in a hotel west of Hyde Park – you have a real trip ahead of you on the tube, with many stations in between. In such moments one notices, once again, how large London really is.
“Brawn” is on a street corner where I would not expect such a great restaurant. It consists of two guest rooms on the ground floor. In the first is the bar, in the second you sit in front of the kitchen’s hectic hustle and bustle, but everything very professional.
Perhaps it is easier to approach the concept of the restaurant through the fabulous and very exceptional wine list. In terms of origin unlimited – perhaps because there is no native wine in England – and then, above all, a wonderful selection of really special and rare, almost all organic and biodynamic wines. In every restaurant you can discover some surprises, but collected in such a way – this happens quite seldom. This is a big movie for enthusiasts of alternative wines, such as orange wines. (https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5a3508f79e1d100001abc75c/5ae5c1bab9f7a824c338c934_WINE%20LIST%20April%202018.pdf) Since I began writing about food and wine, this is only the second restaurant (outside of Slovenia) that I’ve visited where I’ve found a wine from the fantastic Marco Fon. We immediately ordered a bottle and were well tuned.
Even if one can identify a kind of character of the food in “Brawn,” there is no regional or national orientation. There are certainly English roots, such as blood pudding, lamb sweetbread or certain ingredients that are in the foreground, such as cabbage or green beans. However, “Brawn” offers also pasta, feta cheese and artichokes, so it is not a restaurant of the regional cuisine, which I would hold for London and England – with all due respect – and it’s also very, very ambitious. Just as an enthusiastic expert chooses the wine with love, the ingredients are of course fresh, organic and in their combination stimulating and modern.
It tasted very good, although I admittedly did not have the “aha” experience.
The best for me was the sweetbread, maybe because it is so rare.
Stop, that’s not right! At the end of the meal, we indulged in two desserts – after almost two bottles of wine you are just not so disciplined – a panna cotta and a mousse a chocolate. The panna cotta was incredible, probably the best panna cotta I’ve eaten in my life. I ordered it more out of lack of alternatives and then could barely resist eating it all by myself. I had to share it, unfortunately, since Mac McMahon was paying, so what could I do? What’s funny is that I read, among the reports by professional gourmets on this restaurant, the review of Marina Oloughlin of the Guardian and laughed heartily – because she had exactly the same experience. Her report even begins with the panna cotta: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/16/brawn-london-e2-restaurant-review-marina-oloughlin.
Unfortunately, it is pretty tight in “Brawn” and, when it’s jam-packed, like on the evening we were there, it gets a bit too loud. If you like watching the kitchen, you should definitely ask for a place there. East London, or exactly Haggerstone is a cool area.
With a former employee who now works and lives in London – her name is Dorka – I had an appointment for a beer before dinner. She obviously knew the area right away and was waiting for me in the pub called The Birdcage, only 100m from “Brawn”. Also great. Bright, many good beers with a pleasant, modern and neighborly atmosphere. No dark carpets or drunken hosts! Excellent! That was a great evening in London, thanks Dorka, thanks Mac.