Monday 25 July 2011

My Brawn evening - a review

Brawn restaurant
One of the good things about being a member of the Slow Food movement* is being able to go to events where you may taste amazing food, learn how to make them, find out the provenance of their ingredients, and meet interesting and like- minded people. But the Slow Food movement is not only about going out on restaurant trips. They are also involved in educational projects, in which they promote the Slow Food way of life at a local level. Part of the work is trying to reconnect people with the places their food comes from and how it is produced, so they can understand the consequences of their choices. As the Slow Food UK explains: “We encourage people to choose nutritious food, from sustainable, local sources which tastes great”.

Our local group organizes events in London twice a month. Last Tuesday we went to the recently opened Brawn restaurant, in Columbia Rd, Bethnal Green. Brawn is a sister restaurant of Terroir, in Charing Cross. The white walled pleasant space reminds me slightly of one of my other favourite restaurants, St John.

Terroir and Brawn are different in appearance but the wine list is the same, according to Shane Hollander, the Slow Food London group leader. They share the same philosophy: Great food and great wine sourced with an eager eye for provenance”. Both restaurants are owned by wine merchants that specialize in organic wines made from bio-dynamically grown grapes. The wines are unfiltered with no added sugar, sulphur or acid. I had the medium bodied red 2010 Cuvée des Galets,Vignerons D’Estézargues, Rhône - ripe and juicy flavour with a scent of raspberries. Delicious!

The food is served in French “tapas” style or small plates of rustic French food. They source most of their ingredients locally. The beautiful and tasty sourdough is from E5 bakehouse (I could have gone through the evening eating baskets of it with butter), and the cheeses from Androuet in Spitalfields.

Our set menu:

Anchoïade, Fennel  & Breakfast Radishes (a plate of fresh good looking radishes with an anchovy and fennel dip). Healthy and elegant.
Salame Toscano (Carlo Pieri, Tuscany)
Pork Rillette (slow cooked pork meat served like ice-cream scoops)When the meat is falling apart, it is then shredded and turned into a paste with the fat. You can easily share this starter. You can have it on its own - it melts in your mouth - or spread on the sourdough. Rich and delish.
The Seasonal vegetable of the month. Artichoke served with aioli. Yummy. 
Smoked sprats with horseradish and creme fraiche sauce (very good, fatty and smoky).
Dorset Clams, Chilli, Coriander & Spring Onions (it was ok. It didn’t taste much of anything, although there was a bit of a kick from the chilli).
Cantabrian Tuna with beans in olive oil (good quality Spanish Tuna. Lovely taste with a good kick from the chilli).
Vitello Tonnato (cold sliced veal served with a a creamy tuna flavoured sauce. Good).
English Pea & Mousseron Risotto with girolles mushroom (unfortunately, on the salty side). 
Boudin Noir & Summer Vegetables (black pudding sausage made with pigs’ blood, tripe, fat, spices, cream etc. Appearances can be deceiving, not a good looking plate. It is not for the fainthearted but it is the dish definitely worth going there for. The vegetables and broth were exquisite). Yummy!
Fig & Almond tart (a very good frangipane tart made with figs and a dollop of fresh cream. But it was the last drop on the ocean. I couldn’t finish it).

Overall, I would definitely recommend and go back to Brawn on any opportunity (living on the other side of town makes a regular visit a tad difficult). The place has a great vibe. It’s informal, has good tasty food and a nice selection of wines.

The lovely people I met - Jane and Richard, Martine, Helen, Shane, Claire, Cecille and 6 others whose name I didn’t catch -: it was great meeting you and sharing our passion for good food.

To the staff of Brawn, who offered us a generous set menu, merci beaucoup! Prices varies from £3 to £14.

The healthy benefits of the menu?

Plenty. Vitamin D from the animal fat, the essential fatty acids from the sardines, the carbs and B vitamins from the sourdough, the antioxidants from the red wine, the fibre, vitamins and minerals from the vegetables.

It was a rich and healthy evening (calories from good food), perhaps a little more indulgent than usual, but the good choice of ingredients (their provenance couldn’t be better), the biodynamic wine, the company and the enjoyable chat around a big table makes eating a pleasure - which is good for the soul…

*If you would like more information about Slow Food UK, click here 

Till next week!


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