On Friday night I had plans to visit a Vietnamese Supper Club. Unfortunately, it was cancelled last minute due to lack of attendees which was disappointing for all involved. My friends and I had been looking forward to it all week, and now we were at a loose end. Luckily there are an indefinite number of great places to try, so we threw some options around and settled on Brawn, Columbia Rd.
9.30 for dinner, the only booking we could get, feels late but allows for a good few hours of drinking and socialising in advance. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit fuzzy when we arrived and seriously looking forward to some delicious food. I wasn’t disappointed.
For entrée I order green asparagus, pickled St George’s mushrooms and warm egg yolk (£9.50) The asparagus is fresh and fragrant, a perfect foil for the acidity of the mushrooms. I break the yolk over it all which adds a creaminess, but with only a fork, I spend some time chasing the yolk around the bowl. I’m not entirely sure what I was supposed to do with the egg yolk, but if I could have my time again, I would gently pick it up, shovel it in my mouth and feel the warm yolk ooze its way out.
For my main I order grilled wood pigeon, fava bean, harissa and rainbow chard (£18.50) I’ve never eaten pigeon, the idea of it has always felt a little uncomfortable since I associate the idea of pigeon with the mangy sky rats that frequent the streets of London, hobbling around, eating garbage, one wing broken and flapping, pigeon cannibalism, grim.
Wood pigeon is something different though, and something came over me on Friday night. I’m not sure if it was the glowing company, a few too many glasses of empty-stomach wine, or the fact that the ambiance of the restaurant felt so bloody lovely. I could also attribute it to being sat at the back of the restaurant, me in the chair facing the fully open kitchen where the chefs bustled with a calm efficiency. It might have been any of those things, or all of them combined, but for some reason I felt brave, braver than ever and in that moment, I thought – If I don’t try pigeon here… when?
The pigeon is delicious. Quite gamey as expected and cooked quite pink but melting in the mouth. I absolutely loved the fava beans, could have eaten more. While the pigeon was delicious I couldn’t really get past the work involved to eat it, and I did struggle with its little pidgie wings. Turns out I don’t really enjoy having to work for my food, but that’s on me, I’m lazy.
To finish we share the dark chocolate, olive oil and sea salt (£7). Rich, creamy, not overly sweet, a small crunch of salt in every bite, the tart oil a foil for the intense chocolate, the perfect finish.
Brawn – 49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG