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Critics' choice
1 Love It
Britta Jaschinkski
Bethnal Green
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Brawn is the second offering from the team behind Terroirs (and most recently, Soif), and is nicely pitched to appeal to a hip east London crowd without alienating other diners. Staff are young and attentive, and there’s a contented buzz about the place. The decor is unfussy: two rooms with whitewashed walls and simple furniture.

Likewise, the terse menu: ‘Cod’s roe £4’, for example, doesn’t do justice to the deluxe taramasalata that appears. Dishes are made to share. From a selection labelled ‘Pig’ we tried moreish pork rillettes; from ‘Cold’, hand-chopped Tuscan-style beef was steak tartare by any other name, and equally good. Less full-on options might be swiss chard with Cantabrian anchovies and lemon, or buffalo mozzarella with olive oil and capers. The ‘Hot’ choice included excellent clams with lemon and garlic, and gone-in-a-flash cauliflower cheese. Unmissable crêpes with salted caramel butter are among the short list of puddings.

Much care is taken over provenance: cheese comes from Androuet (Spitalfields) and the wonderful bread from E5 Bakehouse (London Fields). ‘Natural’ wine is showcased on the drinks list, with most bottles produced by small, committed growers; it certainly makes for an interesting choice.

Venue name: Brawn
Address: 49 Columbia Road
E2 7RG
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-3pm Tue-Sat; noon-4pm Sun. Dinner served 6-10.30pm Mon-Thur; 6-11pm Fri, Sat
Transport: Tube: Hoxton rail or bus 48, 55
Price: Main courses £12-£17. Set lunch (Sun) £28 3 courses
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Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening
jenny k

Rated 5 stars for the food, Brawn serves an incredibly delicious, well-sourced selection of high quality food, all designed for sharing. The wine selection is also really good and the coffee one of the best I've sampled in London. The location is on Columbia Road, perfect if you've just visited the famous flower market and fancy a spot of lunch. The ambiance and decor is homely and rustic, a great little spot on Columbia Road.

Katrina W

Have been to Brawn twice before a couple of years ago and was really impressed however now it feels like something has changed there. There are unfortunately much less of the smaller plates and the nose to tail sort of style that made it so interesting, perhaps a change of chef? We waited a really long amount of time for our plates to be cleared after the main course, it actually took an hour between finishing our meal and getting the bill. It became a bit of an experiment to see how long they could actually ignore us ( polishing very urgent glasses)  while sitting there with either empty plates or a desert menu.  A real shame, could be a great place.


Go with a group so you can mix and share. The hot dishes and terrines are awesome - and also the mini charcuterie plates.


just love the food there! small portions, but amazing taste!! staff is always friendly and they have good special offers during the week.


My daughter and I chanced by Brawn one day whilst waiting for the dog to be groomed nearby.....We both chose the Dorset crab tortellini with shrimp beurre blanc..To say it was delicious was an understatement..It was just the best thing ever. It was the sort of dish that once you'd finished it, you wanted to say noooo.. We rounded off the meal with dessert (chocolate ganache - fab) and two glasses of Sicillian Lemonade (not wanting to be drunk in control of recently groomed dog) ...The bill came to £46.65 and my daughter said she would have happily paid that for just the tortellini...


I dont have the bad time with service others seem to have when I go here. Always nice to me and the food is normally pretty good. Dont think it is quite as good as when it first opened but I still enjoy the food and the wine here


I have never in my life felt inclined to write a review for a restaurant, but the experience I had at Brawn was so shocking I had to do something. My friend was very eager to have her birthday dinner there, and the only time available was 10 PM. Admittedly, we arrived a little late (ten minutes), but had to wait another half an hour before they finally got us a table. When the food came my meal was forgotten. An understandable mistake, so I happily occupied myself with the pathetic niblets of cheese until it finally arrived after everybody else had finished. It wasn't worth the wait. A very stringy, dry duck, next to some salad that more closely resembled a sad garnish sat before me, but at least it was edible. When the bill came, I was surprised to see we had been charged for my duck. I've worked as a waitress, and just figured this was down to a misunderstanding. When the waitress came over, we politely pointed out that we had been charged for the late meal, but received a reaction as if we had asked for a doggy poo in a doggy bag. She went to get the manager. "Ah, just a misunderstanding. All will be well". The aggression we received from the manager (and piercing daggers flying from eyes from the entire waiting staff) took me totally by surprise. "Did you eat it?" I was interrogated. "Well, yes", I replied. "Well then you HAVE to pay for it". I almost told her that by the time I received it I would have eaten one of the pretentious Tour De France posters on the wall, or my arm with some salt on it, but stopped myself. Were we in a hipster MacDonalds? I did tell her the truth: that I was embarrassed for her, and for the establishment, and that none of us would eat there again or recommend it to a soul. If you like style over substance, watery wine, rude service, and a poor cheese selection then this is the spot for you! Otherwise, go anywhere else.


We dined here for a friend's birthday and it was a complete shambles. We were a group of 10 or so, which perhaps is larger than they usually deal with, but they did accept the booking. We were ignored for nearly 40 minutes (no wine list, no bread, nothing!) before being told most of the dishes were now gone. They served dishes missing their listed ingredients - mozzarella with broad beans arrived with no broad beans - returned with 3 measly beans chopped and scattered on top with a "is this ok?". We were quite bemused as it really bordered on comedy - they seemed to be purposefully avoiding us. The food we eventually got was nice, but there's no way I'd ever recommend this place for a group. I'd like to try it again with just one or two people and see if we experience the same level of service. Completely strange.


I can see why Brawn would recieve such mixed reviews having eaten there last night. Yes it's on the pricey side, yes some of the dishes are hit and miss and a bit small but overall myself and dining partners had a great time. High points were the service which was excellent while being informal and well timed; the setting decor; and the wine list. On the menu side of things the black pudding with ducks egg was sublime with the fois gras, onglet and snails, chopped beef and pork belly all excellent. I would have to agree with some posters that the mushroom and pea risotto was too rich and also I found the heirloom tomatos to be over seasoned. We were however being treated by a business associate so the £280 for four (ouch) was picked up by him. For that though we did have about 12-14 dishes and three bottles of wine.


I honestly can't comprehend the good reviews this place is getting, I've had an absoute terrible experience at Brawn. First, I called to make a booking and the host said that they were full, however, after attempting the place regardless, once there, they took us right in. That's all fine, as maybe they did have a lot of no-shows. Anyways, we ordered 2 platters, the cheese and charcuterie, assuming that two platters would be well enough to share amongst 2 people (as the waitress suggested). I get new cuisine, but this was insulting, £13 for 3 tiny tiny pieces of cheese, no variety whatsoever, then the charcuterie was even more embarrassing with barely anything on it. Considering the lack of generosity of their portions, we asked for more bread, to at least compensate, and after asking 3 times, we finally get some extra bread, 40 minutes later. Anyways, for 2 platters, a bottle of wine, and an extra slice of cheese, our bill came to almost £60, and we were still starving. I never review places I go to, but my experience there was that disappointing. 0/5


Brawn is now perhaps becoming too successful for its own good. The menu is still interesting but hasn't changed much since the restaurant opened almost two years ago. The service is average although you can see that some waiters (unfortunately not all) are trying hard to please. It's a shame because it's a good formula and a good location. Overall, could do much better.


Went for Sunday brunch and the ambience was great. Interiors are lovely. Had the poached quail which was ok. My favourite dish was the asparagus with anchovies - divine. Overall great food but extremely overpriced. Service was good but be prepared to wait. We were lined up without being acknowledged by a staffer, but I guess this goes to show how busy and popular this joint was.


I had seen the mixed reviews on this site about the place but having lived on Columbia road for a while, I was bound to eat there at some point. I can summarize it in two words, over-rated and disappointing. We ordered charcuterie and bread which was a nice start and the bread was very nice but everything else was just mediocre and over priced. The mushrooms were too rich and without much flavor, trotters were ok but the eggy mess that it came with wasbfar too salty, even for me who always adds a bit of salt to everything and the duck leg was over cooked and dry! I mean how can a chef mess up roasted duck? The staff were nice and one who seemed to be in charge took the trotters off the bill but we had to pay for the other half eaten plates. Don't waist your money, pretty much any other place on Columbia road is better than this by a mile and much better value for your time and cash.


I found the food interesting but too rich, every dish came swimming in a creamy, really heavy sauce. It is also stupidly expensive.


Food is great and it is a nice place to eat but the service is shockingly bad. So much so that I wouldn't go back again; which is a shame. We were a group of 8 and you would think that staff would want you to keep drinking so that you could spend more but literally, we waited about 15 minutes at a time to catch the staff's attention so we could order bottles of wine, and then another 15 to get it. Really disappointing and strange that management haven't ironed these issues out.


The atmosphere and food were both very good. The portions were on par with the price and the Foie Gras was exceptionally good and good value.