57. Brawn

Bethnal Green, London

Ed Wilson presides over a near perfect neighbourhood restaurant that offers brilliant food

£££££

Brawn started off life as a pig and natural wine-focused restaurant in a somewhat edgy location on Bethnal Green’s Columbia Road. In the years since, both the restaurant and the location have morphed into something much less hipster and much more inviting.

The bright, bijou front dining room hasn’t changed much in this time, and neither has the restaurant’s focus on understated but brilliant cooking, but over the years chef-patron Ed Wilson has lightened his touch and broadened the restaurant’s scope so there is a more Mediterranean feel to its food.

The menu is divided neatly into snacks and small starters, larger starters and mains and Wilson has a knack of ensuring that practically every dish jumps off the page. Starters include smoked eel on toast with mustard and watercress; and cured mackerel with ajo blanco, carosello cucumber, and kohlrabi; while mains such as grilled pork chop, summer beans, spinach and  anchovy; and Aylesbury duck, roasted beets, walnuts and cicoria are simple by design but full on flavour.

With Brawn, Wilson has created what must be a near perfect neighbourhood restaurant – brilliant food served in bright and convivial surroundings by friendly, engaged staff. The room has a worn feel, like a comfy pair of slippers you can’t wait to sink into.

Tellingly, Brawn is now closed on Sundays, previously its busiest day thanks to the popularity of the road’s famous flower market, so its staff get a decent break each week. It may be named after the head, but Brawn is all heart.

49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, London, City of London, E2 7RG

020 7729 5692

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