Brawn @ Columbia Road

毎日曜日に開かれるフラワーマーケットで有名なColumbia Roadに昨年オープンしたレストラン・Brawn。マーケット以外には特に何もないエリアにあり、外にも建物にも看板もない目立たない店構えだけれど、舌の肥えたグルメな人たちでいつも混んでいる人気店で、Charing Crossにあるフレンチのワインバー・Terroirsの姉妹店なのだそう。ランチ時間も過ぎたこの日、客は少なかったけれど、週末やランチタイムは、予約なしでは席取りにも一苦労するほど。メディアの評判も上々で、入る前から期待が高まる。二部屋にまたがる、天井が高くて明るい店内も、ミッドセンチュリー風の家具やポスター等で、ヒップなショーディッチ住民が好きそうな今流行のスタイルにまとめられている。

SOHOにあるSpuntinoと同じく、今ロンドンで流行中の小皿料理なので、お腹が空いてる時は、一人一品では物足りない。「honest and simple with a respect for tradition(伝統を尊重した、正直でシンプル)」なフードメニューは、正直、英語、フランス語、スペイン語、イタリア語のチャンポンで今イチ理解できず、スタッフのお姉さんに説明をお願いする。この日は、Hand Chopped Tuscan Style Beef(生の牛肉にスパイスを利かせたイタリア版ユッケ。£8)、Spatchcock’d Quail, Spiced Aubergine, Harrisa & Preserved Lemon(開いてグリルしたうずらと、スパイスされた茄子、チュニジアのチリソース、レモン。£9)、Pancetta Arrotolata(パンチェッタ・アロトラータ。イタリアのベーコン・パンチェッタのロール状を薄切りにし、トーストにのせたもの。£8)。新鮮で上質な材料を使っているのは素人目にも分かる。オーガニック・ベーカリーのE5 Bakehouseから仕入れているパンも美味しい。が、イタリア版ユッケは、味がなくて少しもさもさしている(日本人としては生卵を入れたいところだが、サルモネラ菌の問題もあり、イギリスでは生卵は食べない)。それに脂身の多いパンチェッタのマイルドな甘さと塩辛さには、Brawnの酸味のキツいサワードウより、塩抜き味なしトスカーナパンの方が合うような気がする。でも、うずらは焼き加減も良く柔らかく、当たり。ちなみに、汚い話ですが、その日下痢になった。生肉が原因?!という気がしないでもないけれど。。。

私は基本的に、ロンドンで流行の「小皿料理」は好きじゃない。料理自体が問題なのではなく、スペインのタパスや日本の居酒屋と違い、美味しいと言われるお店は、店構えはカジュアルでも、一品の値段がはる割に量が少ないので、気にせず注文していると、気づかぬうちに大枚をはたくことになるからだ。レストラン批評家のレビューは一様に、このクオリティでこの値段はリーズナブルだと言うけれど、正直、旅行先の地中海地方の田舎で、安くて美味しい料理を食べ慣れてしまうと、ロンドンで割高の料金を払って、これらの料理を食べる気にはならないなあ。その分貯金して、次の旅行費用の足しにしたい。ここに来る客は、財布の中身や貯金額を気にせず、食べたいものを食べたい時に食べれる人達なのだろうけれど、そこは貧しい地域とされるイースト・ロンドンで、公営住宅と隣り合わせのエリア。1回の食事料金で、恐らく4人家族の食費1週間分が賄えるであろうことを考えると、皮肉な話だ。

Brawn opened last year on Columbia Road, famous for a street flower market on Sundays. The area has nothing special other than the market, and exterior of the restaurant is quite modest without visible signage, but it is a popular venue for foodies. I found out (in its ladies toilet) that Brawn is a sister restaurant of Terroirs French wine bar in Charing Cross. The day and time when we went in late afternoon was far from busy, but the friendly waitress told us that it is hard to get a table during lunch time and weekend without reservation. Food critiques seem to love the restaurant and all talked very well, so our expectation was high. Their space, separated in two rooms with high ceiling and lots of light, is decorated with mid-century furniture and posters and its London’s up-to-date style surely attracts hip Shoreditch crowds.

They claim their food is “honest and simple with a respect for tradition.” But we hardly understood their menu written in mixture of English, French, Italian and Spanish, and had to ask the staff for explanation, which took hours. Like Spuntino in SOHO, Brawn serves ‘small plates’, which is fashionable now in London. So if you are hungry, one plate per person is far from enough. That day, we ordered Hand Chopped Tuscan Style Beef (spiced raw beef, £8), Spatchcock’d Quail, Spiced Aubergine, Harrisa & Preserved Lemon (£9), and Pancetta Arrotolata (£8). I could tell that they use fresh and high quality ingredients by just looking at the dishes. The sourdough bread from organic bakery E5 Bakehouse was equally excellent. However, Tuscan style Beef didn’t have much taste and rather dry – I wanted to add a raw egg as famous Korean raw meat dish Yukhoe, but use of raw egg is not recommended in UK due to a risk of salmonella infection. Also I felt that combination of salted but mild Pancetta and sourdough was a bit too much – Pancetta is probably better with saltless bland Tuscan bread instead. The winner of the day was the quail – perfectly cooked, tender, and delicious. It may be nothing to do with Brawn, but I got diarrhea after I came back home. We were wondering if it was because of the raw meat, but no proof…

Basically I am not a fan of recent trend of ‘small plates’. It is not because of the food per se, but unlike Tapas in Spain or stuzzichini/spuntini in Italy, popular restaurants of its kind in London charge quite a lot for a tiny portion, though look deceptively casual and informal, and we may receive a huge bill at the end if we eat as we like carelessly. Food critiques all say that food at Brawn is good value for money, but honestly I don’t feel the same, after experienced cheap and excellent ‘simple & honest’ food in Southern European countryside. Or rather save up the money for the next trip. Probably the patrons of Brawn are people who eat what they want without looking into their wallets or check the bank balance. But the irony is that Brawn is located in the heart of East London, one of the most deprived area in the city, close to the public housing complex – the cost of dinner at Brawn would pay for a food bill of a family of four for a week.

2 responses to “Brawn @ Columbia Road

  1. Pingback: Da Polpo @ Maiden Lane, Covent Garden | everydaylife.style

  2. Pingback: St. Ali @ Clerkenwell Road | everydaylife.style

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