Amidst much hype over the opening of the second restaurant from the team behind Terroirs wine bar, it opened early a couple of weeks ago for a surprise ‘dry run’.
The name and appearance couldn’t be more different, and the West End has been swapped for the East End, but Brawn shares Terroirs’ extensive wine list which specialises in ‘natural wines’ which are made from biodynamically grown grapes and are unfiltered with no added acid, sugar or sulphur; and serves similar “small plates” of rustic French food.
Walking into the white walled industrial space of Brawn is reminiscent of the “abattoir chic” rocked by St John. For a restaurant named after head cheese, this is wholly appropriate. It’s somewhat ironic then, that of the six “small plates” we order, only one is actually meat at all.
Our piece of token flesh comes in the form of rillette, chosen from the wonderfully bluntly named ‘pig’ section of the menu. The fat enriched meat melts on the tongue into a stream of salty porcine goodness that paves the way for more. The bottomless bread basket filled with sourdough from E5 Bakehouse acts as a perfect foil for this and subsequent juicy bits, and is generously provided free with the meal.
Subsequent dishes struggle to match the rillette heights, but fishy choices of radishes with an anchoiade dip; Palourde clams cooked in Manzanilla sherry; and squid with chilli and gremolata aren’t far behind. A zander boudin (read: fish sausage) is disappointingly unfishy, but the shellfish sauce it comes with was good enough to have us (only half jokingly) request a straw to finish it with.
Crepes with (burnt, bitter) salted butter caramel are a disappointing end to the meal, but not enough to dampen a generally positive experience. Plates range from £3 to £14 which means a greedy meal with wine (and lots of that bread) comes in around a reasonable £30. We’ll be back for more of that pig...