Conscious perhaps that even much loved establishments need to refresh a well-worn image, Brula was in the middle of an update on our visit: nothing so drastic as to lessen the Parisian brasserie feel of stained glass and frosted lace-effect windows, bentwood chairs and crisp napery, rather a little lightening and brightening. A summery salad of heirloom tomatoes punctuated by crunchy white grelot onions and flecks of goat’s cheese seemed all the more apt in the cheerier setting.
More evidence of careful sourcing came in two dishes featuring Berkshire lamb: a deeply flavourful shoulder roast and crunchy breast confit melded French flavours with British produce to sound effect. Vegetables too are given their due – just-so charred gem lettuce, creamy dauphinoise, resonant artichoke purée – and there’s even a vegetarian menu. A slight busy-ness muddies the effect at times: both artichoke chips and roast hazelnuts seemed an unnecessary intrusion in the lamb breast salad.
A faultless, unadorned crème brûlée restored faith. As part of the revamp, a brasserie-style menu is available (9am-5pm Tue-Sat) alongside the main menu, offering pastries and savoury bites (quiche, charcuterie, salads). The extensive wine list with its collection of gems from south-west France deserves mention, as does the evident enthusiasm of the owner.