Apr 11 2013



This restaurant created a lot of hype when it first opened in Hackney 2 years ago and was named one of the best newcomer restaurants by the Hardens guide and for 2 years running now is in the Harden’s list for best French restaurants under £50/ person. This is a sister restaurant to Soif (have not been there) and Terroirs, another French restaurant which is more central (in Charring Cross), and which I visited last year and very much enjoyed, hence I was always keen to go to Brawn as well.

Brawn feels very different to Terroirs though. Many people say Brawn is better but I actually disagree. Terroirs seems more classic in terms of the food it offers, and it offers good and delicious and modern French food with interesting and exciting things on the menu, and their wine list (huge book to be precise) is amazing and they serve biodynamic wine. Brawn I think goes too far and tries to offer even more boundary shattering French food, which I personally was not super keen on. I also prefer the atmosphere at Terroirs as it feels more cute and cosy and Brawn is a bit more industrial.

Brawn is not easy to find. When I was walking around in Hackney on a Thursday evening with my map I almost walked past this place as there is no big sign outside saying that is Brawn restaurant and if you don’t know the address or where to look, you could miss it. When I first arrived a bit before 7, the restaurant was totally empty but when I left around 2 hours later it was totally full and buzzing.

The menu is written daily and Brawn apparently “works within the season and with an eager eye for provenance” and they try to work as much as possible with local producers and suppliers to create food that is “honest and simple with a respect for tradition”. Note this is one of those restaurants where you look at the menu and half of the things there you don’t know what they are, and these sort of places make me feel so bad about my English, as I have no idea after 20 years of studying this language how I don’t know so many different words.

The menu is divided into 5 sections, “taste ticklers”, “PIG”, “Cold”, “Hot” and “Desert”. The bread they brought us was average, there was only 1 type of it, and it was good but nothing special. From the taste ticklers at first I wanted to have pork scratchings, but in the end we decided to go for something a bit more creative called “Cervelle de canut” which was a cheese spread/dip, and a specialty of Lyon, France, and which was seasoned with freshly chopped herbs, shallots, olive oil and vinegar and served with toasted bread. It was very powerful and there was a lot of it, and because of the strong taste I could not have too much of it. From the “PIG” section which features proscutto, jamon, rillettes and other things, we chose these thin round pork strips which were decorated with salad, another dish that I guess was interesting but not that delicious.

The other 3 dishes we chose were the “Nettle Risotto” which was topped with parmesan cheese, “pigs trotter” which I was curious to try as well as the “Onglet, Bone Marrow Butter &  Duck Fat Chips”. I was hoping for the nettle risotto to be amazing, but it was average. Interesting to use nettles, so I do like their creativity but it was not that tasty. The onglet steak was ok, and the chips were average as well, nothing too amazing to suggest this is one of the best French restaurants in London. But the disaster dish was the pigs trotter. I will never ever again in my life have this, as it just tasted so awful, it was like eating pure fat (or rubber according to my dinner buddy Harry), and I even had the awful taste in my mouth hours after the meal. I don’t think any restaurant should serve it, or if you do serve it make it much much nicer. As for the desert we shared “Chocolate Pudding, Crème  Fraiche & Pistachio” which was chosen by my dinner buddy Harry, and whilst the chocolate was nice, I did not think the crème fraiche (and there was a huge amount of it on the plate) with the bitter taste added anything nice to this desert.

Overall I was a bit disappointed with Brawn, as there are much better these sort of restaurants that use varied and different parts of the animal in their dishes (like Beard to Tail) and none of the dishes in Brawn I thought really stood out. I loved reading the menu and though it looked great, but once the food arrived I was not that impressed.

Price for 2 people with a glass of wine and service charge: £73.41
Date: 11/04/13
Location: Hackney

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Maija rated: 




49 Columbia Road, E2 7RG
United Kingdom
Brawn Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 2.5