May 19th 2011

Last week I ate at Brawn, with Oli and Catie – the name of the restaurant suggested that it could be my kind of place and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The interior is clean and white, with tables and chairs that remind me of France. The food comes on wooden boards and this is definitely the place to share.

cervelle de canut

We started with some Cervelle de Canut – not brains (sadly), but named after the brains of Lyonnaise silk workers. The Cervelle de Canut is actually a delicious and fairly strong cheese dip, containing fromage blanc, served in a pyrex bowl with rustic, toasted, sour dough bread.


We had to have the Brawn, as we were in Brawn, commonly known as head cheese, since it’s a terrine made from cooking a pig’s head. This brawn was quite meaty – some contain a lot of jelly, a natural byproduct of cooking the head. Pigs heads are reasonably cheap and can be bought from the Ginger Pig, Smithfield Market, etc. and have become a regular sight in the window of Cramers (a butcher on York Way).

plaice and samphire

In menu order, next came the fish. The Plaice with Samphire, brown shrimps and lemon was exquisite – it struck me that the fish really tasted of plaice, which must go to show that it was much fresher than from any other one I’ve eaten! We had the plaice in place of Brandade Gratin, which had sadly sold out.

hand dived scallops

The Hand Dived Scallops cooked in garlic butter and parsley looked beautiful and tasted very garlicky (something that always pleases me).

eggs and anchoïade

Cold plates follow the fish and the first one on the list was Eggs and Anchoïade – again quite stunning to look at – the eggs were slightly runny and the anchoïade (an anchovy sauce from Provence) pressed all my buttons – the combination of anchovies, garlic, white wine vinegar, etc. was just right.

duck gesier

The Duck Gesier (gizzards, part of a duck’s digestive tract) were soft and tender, going well with the crunchy beans and shallots in walnut oil.

pig’s trotter with sauce gribiche

By this point I didn’t think there could be any better food, but if I had to say which thing was my favourite, it would definitely be the Pig’s Trotter in Sauce Gribiche (a strong mayonnaise like sauce, see here for a recipe). The trotter had been cooked and had had all the bones and cartilage removed, before being reconstituted, breadcrumbed and fried. The meat was soft and tender, going perfectly with the strong sauce, I could have eaten three of them!

abondance and morbiers

To finish off a perfect evening, we had some cheese (Abondance and Morbiers), followed by coffee and brandy. We drank rosé wine throughout the evening, which seemed to go well with everything. It’s notable that Brawn does a good range of biodynamic, natural wines.

I thoroughly recommend this restaurant, especially to people who have enjoyed the food at the St. John and the Bull and Last. It’s not cheap though and you’ll have to book ahead.

Brawn is at, 49 Columbia Rd, Bethnal Green, E2 7RG, tel: 0207 729 5692. Google Map

Square Meal

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Fish, Meat, Recipes, Restaurants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brawn

  1. What an amazing meal – would love to take my parents here one day as they love this sort of food!

    • Mad Dog says:

      It was brilliant – I don’t think I did the food justice with the pictures, but it was quite dark. They do a set lunch on Sundays, but it’s quite busy because it’s next to Columbia Road flower market.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.