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 near decade 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 practically every dish jumps off the page. Wilson has a knack of bringing a wide variety of dishes and ingredients together in one place, with starters ranging from burrata with courgettes; and oysters, to raw bonito, turnip peas and lovage; and lamb’s sweetbreads with piattone beans, radish and caper relish.
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.