Brigade, London Bridge – a Restaurant with Soul
I have a good food blogger friend who, despite having a busy life and small children, manages to organise some fabulous meals for us all. When an invite comes my way, sometimes common sense goes out of the window. Accepting a date that was squished in between two press trips was probably not the wisest move in the world, but hey, I had a great time, ate some excellent food and learnt a little bit about Brigade and the Beyond Food Foundation. I’m just feeling guilty because my review is very late – at the bottom of this post you’ll find links to some of my friends who have already written up the afternoon. Better late than never though!
Built on the site of the Tooley Street Fire Station, Brigade has taken the ethos of the Fire Brigade and translated it into a foundation that saves lives in quite a different way, by offering apprenticeships through the ‘Beyond Food Foundation’ to young homeless and vulnerable people. Led by Chef Simon Boyle, the foundation offers a chance in life. What better way to support them than by visiting and enjoying a meal there?
Michelle, from Greedy Gourmet, was joined by Solange, Jeanne, May and myself for a veritable feast that wet Saturday afternoon in September. We started the meal with olives, almonds and bread before moving on to a selection of the starters available. It was cold and wet outside and I wanted something warming. I was particularly drawn to the idea of New Forest Wild Mushrooms – but I don’t like egg, so my version was served without the fried duck egg. It worked well, obviously not what the Chef had intended, but quite delicious.
Others chose baked British seafood, which came as a spectacular pastry sealed scallop shell
Scotch eggs with beetroot piccalilli, Colston Basset eccles cakes and Cornish crackling mackerel salad with pomegranate and manuka honey dressing.
Main courses arrived looking just as spectacular.
My Lobster Ravioli was plump and very generous, but just a little salty and dry for my taste. And I must admit to a bad attack of food-envy – the pork belly in its Toad in the Hole nest looked like the ultimate comfort food for a wet autumn afternoon, served with Buttered Cabbage and Pear Cider Onion Gravy.
We all gasped at the stunning Poached Fillet of Beef with Figs, Wild Mushrooms and Radish (although that comes with a price tag of nearly £30). I’m reliably advised it was perfectly cooked.
Where I did win out was with the autumn salad I ordered to go with my Ravioli, which was a particularly tempting mixture of leaves and autumn fruit and vegetables.
The other side dishes were no less spectacular for example a tempura batter coated broccoli and beetroot with cumin, a flavour pairing I really love and have used both in pickles and in beetroot truffles.
Desserts were just divine. Bakewell tart exactly as it should be, with a lovely flaky short pastry and an almond topping. An incredibly pretty chocolate parfait with strawberries and rose petals.
There was also a fabulous looking cheeseboard with a whole range of English cheeses including Stinking Bishop and Colston Basset which I avoided, having (genuinely) eaten enough cheese for a lifetime on my trip to the Roquefort caves the week before.
The restaurant was closed for the afternoon and we were there partly so that Michelle who is a fabulous photographer, could take some shots of the food and interview Simon Boyle. So, our lunch may not be representative of normal service – and certainly what looks like a lively bar was quiet but for the ooohs and ahhhs of our group as yet more delicious food arrived. Pricing is fair for the area, with starters mostly under £10 and with main courses mostly from £15-£20. And there’s an excellent wine list together with some delicious sounding cocktails. So why not pick Brigade? – you’ll be putting back something into the community as well as enjoying some great food.
The Fire Station
139 Tooley Street
Our lunch was as guests of the Restaurant.