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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our favourite wine list in London

Pork scratchings
Morbiers from Jura
Dorset clams with chilli, ham and garlic
Hand chopped Tuscan style raw beef

Cornish squid, braised chick peas and romesco
Yellow beans, shallots and walnut oil
Brandade gratin and gem salad
Spatchcock'd quail, Soft Polenta and Gremolata
Lemon tart
Our spot at the bar in front of Florian, our sommelier and waiter
Decanting some delicious yellow stuff
We love this label!
LOCATION: Brawn 49 Columbia Rd, Bethnal Green E2 7RG, London
CATEGORY: Wine bar, French, small plates, meat, natural wine
DRINK: Sparkling water PLUS:
Sparkling white: 2006 "Petillant Naturel" (Menu Pineau), Thierry Puzelat
White wines: 2009 Agnes et René Mosse, Anjou sec Blanc; 2009 Nöella Morantin "Les Pichiaux" (Sauvignon blanc); 2010 Catherine et Pierre Breton "La Dilettante" (Chenin sec)
Red wines: 2007 Maison Pierre Overnoy "Arbois Pupillin"
WE THINK: Brawn is the new East London undertaking of the people behind Terroirs in Central London. Specialising in natural wines and small, mostly meat-based, plates intended for sharing, Brawn introduces something that has been missing in our favourite London neighbourhood. Add to this the great location on Columbia Road, the decor which is light and friendly, and the fact that the staff are knowledgeable, passionate, unpretentious and fun (admittedly, we base this assessment mainly on Florian, our sommelier-cum-waiter who used to work at Terroir in San Francisco) and it's hard to hold back the excitement despite minor shortcomings in the food department. Anyway, the wine was really the primary driver this evening which started as a casual late-afternoon visit to the bar for a glass of wine before heading out for dinner (the tables at Brawn were fully booked). A simple bar snack of mouthwatering, crunchy pork scratchings and a slice of cheese seemed in order...nothing much. But then we got excited and some more wine magically followed. Which is when we concluded that a substantial dish was required. Clams were ordered at the bar. Then a second order of clams. And some more wine... And then some Cornish squid. Still hanging at the bar--now with a friend who joined our party of two--we kept this scenario going till we were embarrassingly loud and wobbly on our bar stools and the restaurant was closing. Though our recollection of the evening is somewhat hazy, we remember the pork scratchings, clams, squid, yellow beans and Tuscan beef to be particularly tasty. The wines were all delicious but we were especially excited about the white Mosse and the red Overnoy 'Arbois Pupillin'. A couple of days later we returned with a big group. This time some great terrines and patés were consumed, along with quail egg snacks, scallops and more bottles of ridiculously good wine. We will soon be back for more.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The London Particular

London Particular salad with sausages and halloumi
Grilled mackerel with pea puree and red rice salad
Soba noodle salad with grilled asparagus and tiger prawns
Chegworth Valley apple and elderflower juice
Enticing baked goods on the counter
Owners Kanji and Becky
LOCATION: The London Particular, 399 New Cross Road, New Cross, London, SE14 6LA
CATEGORY: Café, breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee
DRINK: Several cups of coffee, Chegworth Valley juices
WE THINK: This tiny New Cross gem serves one of London’s best coffees, made with their own “London Particular” blend from “H.R. Higgins (Coffee-man) Ltd.” - the third-generation, oldschool tea and coffee merchants who supplies to Her Majesty. They also serve delicious, healthy food for breakfast and lunch (many vegetarian options), lovingly prepared by the owner/chef, Becky Davey. We went to sample a little bit of everything on a beautiful, sunny day and took a seat at an outdoor table facing the questionably lovely New Cross Road. Our three hearty salads (too much for 2 hungry adults) were fresh and tasty with the grilled mackerel deserving a gold medal. Even if you are not a student at neighbouring Goldsmiths University, you now have a reason to travel to New Cross. Long live the air-conditioned East London overground train!