Bronze Award
London, E2 7RG ·Website ·Call020 7729 5692

SquareMeal Review of Brawn

Bronze Award

SquareMeal London Hot 100 2018A "good concept" and a convivial proposition, this light and airy eatery serves up a daily-changing menu of small plates in a modern industrial setting. Rustic, peasant-style food with a French accent is the deal, complete with smooth terrines, hunks of bread and a wonderful selection of cheese and charcuterie (as you'd expect from the team behind Terroirs and Soif).

On your visit, you might find the likes of a creamy crab tagliolini, or perhaps pork chop, with chickpeas and courgettes. On a Sunday, go continental chic by dropping in for the fairly priced three-course lunch – plus a small supplement for cheese that we'd certainly advise you take.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cool, Fun
Food Hygiene Rating


49 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG

020 7729 5692


Opening Times

Tues-Sun 12N-3pm (Sun -4pm) Mon-Sat 6-11pm


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10 Reviews 

Kelly S

24 February 2020   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4


David H

28 July 2019  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 3.5
Interesting food in a comfortable environment.

Its taken us a while to eat here, though we visit the Columbia Road area at least several times a year- but then there's some good competition within a mile or two.  But, as so often happens , when eventually ate there yesterday we wondered quite why it has taken us so long and said "see you again" to our pleasant waitstaff as we left- and we meant it.  

Early lunch on Saturday seems to be a good time -for us and for them.  Its not busy but not empty, the service was unfailingly prompt, smiley and polite, and the place looks nice - somewhere in the territory between rustic and industrial, but comfortable. We were didn't really have time for a really leisurely lunch, and going to a wedding after meant limited alcohol for us, but having declared this to our waiter we were out in 70 minutes for two courses and coffee which was perfect for us.


We both enjoyed the food.  Possibly an early reputation for a focus on meat and small/sharing plates ( which we've never really taken to) helped keep us away, but the menu we saw yesterday was quite able to support a starter/main /dessert regime, and we both enjoyed our choices.  My wife enjoyed her cucumber & yoghurt soup- to the point whether she wondered how she could make it at home- and my clams & squid pieces with what looked like couscous but possibly wasn't, with bottarga was tasty.  Similarly the pappardelle with veal ragu was nicely cooked.  We both tend to order this dish whenever we can find it and this version was as good as you'd get in the better pasta specialists such as Bancone.  Good bread, and I enjoyed my chilled beaujolais to the extent that I had another despite the several hours of unlimited wine waiting for me a short bus ride away. 

So all told, a successful lunch that I'm sure we'll repeat.    

olly S

08 July 2019  
Great food, location, best charcuterie ever!

Thomas A

27 June 2018  
Family feel. Stunning restaurant. Best produce in London. I even wrote a piece on them

Thomas A

20 March 2017  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Columbia Road began its life as a pathway to lead sheep to slaughter in Smithfield. The sheep have now been replaced by yogis, haberdashers and models wearing shearling jackets. London is full of continuity if you know how to look. Hang a left to Ravenscroft Street and you’ll find Brawn which launched as the sister restaurant of Terroirs in 2010 (before being recognised as the more gifted sibling.) East London’s restaurant scene at the time was percolating. Brawn turned it up to eleven and put it firmly on the map. It was completely of its time and still is today. Now fully owned by the oenological don Ed Wilson, Brawn’s concept is to source the very best produce and let the combination of ingredients (rather than the cooking) do the talking. The pared-down menu is always changing and consistently outré; Duck Hearts, Duck Gizzards, Trotters, Andouillette & Brains. A gutsy sybarite’s paradise. There is also pasta. London has more choice of quality restaurants than ever before. Paradoxically, though we gain in our quality of options, we lose out in what loyalty and familiarity can provide. Good or even great restaurants are ephemeral to our spoilt bastard collective. To keep going back means it’s got to be more than exceptional; it has to mean something to you. It has to be personal. Brawn represents this rare personal restaurant to so many people I know. My best friend lives near and has been well over 250 times. He’ll soon get his own plaque. Brawn has a knack of making you feel at home and like you’re on holiday. I can’t explain its alchemy. Nick Lander writes about it most recently and best. full review here:

Alex R

22 September 2015  
Food & Drink 2.5
Service 2.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Good concept & restaurant marred by slow service and a patchy menu
Very friendly staff, a convivial setting and (what appeared to be) an interesting menu did not fully translate into the kind of experience I would pay for again. While the terrine starter was great, the raw beef and avocado was too plain to discuss at any length. The crab pasta had great flavours, but was overcooked (turning it into noodles). The veal belly done porchetta style had (again) good flavours, but came with a very thin stew of beans and rhubarb. That said the atmosphere and setting were both great and we had a fun evening.

Anu W

01 October 2012  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 4.5
I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely restaurant. The service was attentive, the food excellent and that atmosphere relaxed. I was impressed by the variety of starters from pork scratchings, to the most delicious scotch eggs I have ever eaten. The lobster bisque was creamy and incredibly flavourful. I'm looking forward to going back!

Les C

29 June 2011  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 3.5
Value 4
Nothing i can really say bad about Brawn. My second visit of the year. The first visit a surprise midweek lunch which delighted. Returning with friends from overseas & building it up rather in my & their expectations we were all mightily pleased by all the above catagories which all scored very high. The room (we sat at the front) is simple but cosy enough & though there was a nice buzz from other tables we could chat & be heard easily. The service exceptional, the waitress with a great knowledge of wine & liqueurs assisted & helped with her expertise in helping us select very well. Elderflower liqueur was a real find instead of a sweet wine with pudding. The food was interesting & eclectic in a very good way with sharing plated allowing us to savour many delicious, delicate & fabulous tastes & textures. Value for money definately yes. The only tiny criticism was the air con which seemed to blow a gale but this is a minor quibble. My overall score is high & would possibly be a bit higher but as this is my first review here i thought i shouldn't get to carried away. The location is a wee bit off the beaten track but do go & explore both the area & the amazing food.

Anne T

05 January 2011  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
A belated review from the soft opening in December – it was one of their first nights, and the fact that they managed to impress so much on that visit is hopefully a very good sign. First of all, the rooms. We sat in the back room, with a view of the open kitchen (the front room is where the bar is, and where cheese and charcuterie are served, and it seemed a bit buzzier there on the night we visited). It's not a formal, white tablecloth, gleaming cutlery sort of place; the furniture looks reclaimed, the walls are white, there are big windows onto the street, there's a variety of tables and counters to eat at, and it's quite basic and homely. It reminded me of evenings spent sitting in friends' kitchens, able to relax and eat as you please. Service was sweet and friendly – eager to discuss the history and sourcing of the wine and the food, and wanting to please without being intrusive. A warning: it's hard to limit yourself to a sensible amount of food because each section on the menu (Taste Ticklers, Pig, Plancha, etc) begs to be explored. We tried something from each: well-sourced charcuterie ranging from the familiar to some more daring options (a kind of brain/blood sausage on our visit), lovely soft pork rillettes, grilled prawns, clams in a gorgeous buttery sherry broth, an italian version of steak tartare, monkfish cheeks, and a stunning duck and salsify pie that was packed with meat and that I could eat every day. I've lost the paper menu that I took away – it seemed to be mainly meat and fish, but the vegetarian dishes included a nicely dressed salad, a vegetable gratin and a good cheese selection, with plenty of chewy sourdough bread to mop everything up with. I'd like to have explored the puddings more, but had to limit myself to sharing a perfect iles flottantes, sprinkled with crunchy caramel. We left the wine selection to our waiter and drank several different glasses, all of which were good. We were busy discussing and exploring the food on our first visit and didn't pay much attention to what is probably a very good wine list, based on my experience of their sister restaurant. The menu seems to change regularly, according to other accounts I've read, so it's a place that's well worth visiting on a regular basis. The food isn't overly fussy, which is a plus. It's interesting, well-sourced, well-prepared, and the menu has been put together with a lot of thought that allows you to create whatever kind of meal you feel like eating on the night. I'd be happy to call in for some charcuterie and cheese, or to have a much larger meal. I'm looking forward to exploring the wine list further because I imagine as much thought has been put into it as the food menu.

Jo R

26 November 2010  
Food & Drink 5
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 5
It may not be ‘officially’ open yet, but Brawn is already up and running. On a cold dark night, it looked very inviting from outside, and had a nice buzz inside, with a friendly welcome. We skipped the small number of more substantial main courses, opting for a selection of tapas style dishes. All the dishes were good, but the highlights were Suffolk pork rillettes, Iberico ham, scallops with gremolata and leek gratin. The cheese options come from local supplier, Androuet, and were also a real stand out (we had Comté and Cornish Blue). The chocolate mousse was good, but not as special as the cheese. The wine list is focused on independent producers making small quantities of ‘natural’ wines. This appears to be a broad term for organic, biodynamic and other winemaking methods, with no additives and often unfiltered results. We thoroughly enjoyed our first exposure to this style of wine, getting good recommendations by the glass from our waiter. Some of our choices tasted similar to conventional bottles, but others were totally different, in particular the red Vino di Anna from Mount Etna. If we were looking for faults, I'd say that service gapped a little at the start – we had to ask for the menu – but picked up nicely from there. Also there was a cold draft at one point, which we couldn't understand as the door was closed. Finally our table seemed slightly awkwardly positioned, making it tricky for the waiters to move about freely. That very pedantic nitpicking aside, we had a great evening. We also had an entirely unexpected and very welcome surprise when the bill arrived, and the charge for our food had been removed. Our waiter explained that this was because they are ‘still practising’ before their formal launch – so full marks for goodwill generation! We'll definitely be coming back and look forward to trying more natural wines.
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