THE REAL WINE DRINKING GUIDE: Brawn
A sibling of Terroirs, Brawn opened in 2010 on Columbia Road (home of London’s legendary Sunday flower market) in Hackney and has since acquired a devoted following for its exceptionally well-executed seasonal menu of produce-driven dishes and exciting and lengthy natural wine list. Owner-chef Ed Wilson has made Brawn into a brilliant buzzy local restaurant, as well as a place that is definitely worth the gastronomic detour.
The restaurant is split over two rooms with a bar in the front and the open kitchen in the rear. Both spaces are filled with diverting pictures, posters and artworks that have all been procured from customers, friends, musicians, winemakers and artists who have impacted on the restaurant since it opened. Music is care of vinyl records played on a vintage system.
The ever-changing menu comprises around eight starters, half a dozen mains, a trio of desserts and cheeses respectively. One menu featured dishes such as raw scallops, broad beans, lovage and colatura di alici; lamb sweetbreads, piattone beans and capers; cod, girolles, artichokes and seaweed butter and panna cotta, strawberries and elderflower. Sharing is positively encouraged.
Brawn champions “real and free wines” favouring European growers, although it embraces producers who work with the same philosophy wherever they are located on the planet. Always evolving and changing seasonally, the wine list is printed as a simple, stapled document with interesting thematic sections, and contains a trove of vinous treasures with a special fondness for certain growers. There are particularly strong sections in Jura, Loire, central France, and central and southern Italy - and if you enjoy Gamay you won’t go thirsty.
There are around ten wines by the glass with one or two orange examples for fans of skin contact.
Producers we love: Les Cailloux du Paradis, Nicolas Vauthier, Julie Balagny, Cantina Giardino; Bruno Schueller; Alain Castex; Jean-Francois Ganevat.
Look out for the lesser spotted: Older vintages of Dard & Ribo; Overnoy/Houillon; Jerome Lenoir, Valentini; Yvon Metras; Domaine des Miroirs and Daniel Sage.
We really like: The exchange dinners and subsequent takeovers by wine bars and restaurants from other countries.
Do: Ask for a request to be played from Ed’s amazing vinyl collection.
Key wine person(s): Ed Wilson; Anna Frost.
49 Columbia Road | Bethnal Green | London E2 7RG