Brawn E2
REVIEWS, January 7, 2011
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Brawn, 49 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG

From the same backers as the celebrated Terroirs bistro in central London, a (more informal) East End offshoot of similar quality; it has much laid-back charm, and is already very busy.

Terroirs goes East.

Yes, that’s really is pretty much everything you need to know about this new bistro, recently opened in the East End. (If you’re reading this, you almost certainly know about Terroirs. If you don’t, we explained it all in our review of another related establishment, the Henry Root.) Make the transition from Terroirs’ rather gritty and businesslike environs (Charing Cross) to the still gritty but much funkier environs of Columbia Road Flower Market, and it’s quite difficult not to get the picture of the new establishment.

Perhaps because there’s really nothing to say, other than: ‘splendid, splendid, just what you might have hoped’, the critical world has been oddly divided on the opening. Fay Maschler, doyenne of critics, for example, saw a seasonal star in the East, or rather five of ’em. This was a pretty much unprecedented award for any establishment, and all the more remarkable for one which is essentially a bistro, and essentially a repetition of a formula (if undoubtedly a very good one).

The only other pure ‘London’ critic with anything like the same sort of readership, Marina O’Loughlin at Metro, thought Brawn was pretty good too, but professed herself a bit bemused by the praise being heaped on the place by some of her fellow critics. (We have no reason to think she had Ms Maschler particularly in mind.)

We’re with Metro on this one: Terroirs, near our office, is the only restaurant in London we go to at least monthly; we’re therefore known there, and we like the place very much indeed. Brawn is just as good. If anything, we prefer its laid-back vibe (and, for the moment at least, it has the benefit of the primary attentions of the original team). But this is not a style of cuisine that’s every going to be worth crossing town for, and we don’t think it does the place any favours to suggest that it is.

If you had it at the bottom of their road, however, or even in your ‘hood, you could count yourself very lucky indeed.

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