This Former Fire Station Burns The Food On Purpose... And It's Amazing
Our first encounter with Brigade was a few years back — a fleeting drink with the great tour guide Pete Berthoud. This former Victorian fire station, he explained, also happens to reside where the Tooley Street Fire of 1861 raged for two weeks. In the dumbstruck aftermath, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade was established.
London often references its past in warped ways, and Brigade has just relaunched as a smoke and grill restaurant, where the produce is often cooked in a melee of smoke and flame, singed on purpose, to mouth-watering effect.
"Some of the chefs couldn't understand why we wanted to burn the food," our waiter tells us, as he hands us a house negroni, mixed with locally-distilled Little Bird gin. Brigade is a social enterprise restaurant, helping vulnerable adults in London who have been at risk of, or experienced, homelessness.
Perhaps Brigade's social conscience is a reason that it's packed to the rafters on a Wednesday. Mainly, we learn, it's the dishes.
After wolfing down the sourdough bread infused with a Marmitey punch, and smothered greedily in whipped butter, we move onto the mains. Both the Dartmoor lamb chops and Norfolk chicken are grilled to succulent perfection, tinged with that tease of charcoal, which comes with the best barbecued dishes.
But it's one of those nights where the side comes out of left field, to steal the limelight: a singed medley of spring onions, chard, courgettes and other seasonal green goodies drips with smokey, balsamic tang — enough to make any five-year-old fall head over heels in love with vegetables.
We have absolutely no room for the sticky toffee pudding with milk ice cream, but bloody well have it anyway. No twists here: just the pub classic steamed to moist perfection, and drizzled in no small amount of toffee sauce. Someone call 999: we've got a burning love for Brigade.
Brigade Bar + Kitchen, 139 Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ
Last Updated 06 March 2019