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