This may be the younger Brat, but Tomos Parry’s journey started here in many ways - Parry took over the reigns at Climpson’s back in 2013, and it was the first time Londoners experienced the flame-licked style that won Brat a Michelin star five years later. As you walk with trepidation under railway arches and past industrial lockups, you may question whether you’re on the right track - don’t worry, good things are just around the corner.
One thing to note about Brat x Climpson’s Arch - the restaurant is covered but not completely indoors, and as a result it can get chilly in the evenings. We came equipped with jumpers and that proved sufficient, but if it’s particularly cold you should dress accordingly.
We kicked off with two superb cocktails - a delightful toasted daiquiri of rum, coconut and lime with a touch of smoke, and a Climpson’s espresso martini that was admirably light on sugar. It was a sign of things to come. Oysters soon followed, anointed with fresh tomato and seaweed. Then, bread, inflated by the heat and smoke of the grill, indented with calcots and generously covered in shavings of Berkswell cheese. Vegetable fritto misto with anchovy dip and rich, fatty pork mince balls, wrapped and steamed in savoy cabbage leaves are equally brilliant, and leave us in need of a break. We get a good 20 minutes to catch our breath before the arrival of a whole Dover sole, gently roasted and smoked over open fire until melting and gelatinous. It’s a transcendent fish experience that will ruin all other fish for you, forever. For all that has been written about the fish cooking at Brat over the last few years, it really has to be tried to be understood.
There was really only one way to finish - the burnt cheesecake to end all burnt cheesecakes, this time with a sharp kick of pink rhubarb to pierce through the richness. Brat has become divisive over the last few years, perhaps out of expectation that casual east London restaurants shouldn’t have this sort of price tag. Yes, the bill is no drop in the ocean but for the quality of the cooking? We'd go back in a heartbeat.