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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Brunswick House

HIDDEN amongst the glass fronted urban jungle of Vauxhall is a beautiful Georgian Mansion, slightly dilapidated from within, but beaming proudly from its corner post on the busy Wandsworth Road.

Built in 1758 within 3 acres of riverside parkland and once home to the Dukes of Brunswick, this elegant building is now occupied by LASSCO: The London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company. Having restored Brunswick House from the brink of ruin LASSCO now uses it as one of its premises' from which to sell architectural antiques, salvage and curiosities.

This house is a marvel to walk around; an interior of exposed brickwork, floor to ceiling windows, creaky wooden floorboards, a winding stone staircase and a vaulted cellar contains within it an array of vintage pieces to dazzle and explore.

But, there is also another draw for visiting Brunswick House. And as you may have guessed: it does involve food...

At The Brunswick House Cafe diners find themselves seated upon, and in the midst of, LASSCO's antique wares. The daily menu is short - averaging around 10 items - but varied enough in its selection to allow for a satisfying choice. In addition to this there are items such as pastries that can also be picked out at the counter.

We visited on a Sunday afternoon, when a slightly more limited brunch menu is served. This did not mean that we were disappointed; if anything it made me certain that I would return at a later date to sample more of what they may have to offer on the ever changing menu. 

The spinach and goat's curd fritatta, drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper was delightfully delicate, the goat's curd that graced its top unnervingly light yet creamy. The dish did however feel lacking in a sweet / tangy note - in the way that goat's cheese dishes so often call for. 

The 'wow' dish of the day though was the rare topside beef served on dripping toast with green sauce, a bargain at only £7.20 (and this being the most expensive item on the menu). The deliciously rare mound of beef heaped upon a salty - but not too greasy - wedge of seed-speckled toast was complimented by a tangy, textured sauce (involving capers / parsley) whose sharp bite cut through the beef and dripping flavours perfectly.

We then settled on coffee and cakes for desert as the Eton mess on offer had sold out. An eccles cake was generously filled to the brim with currants; an almond and coconut tart with subtle frangipane filling was sweet yet tempered by the coconut addition, which seemed to influence texture more than flavour. And my Madeira cake arrived gently warmed, fluffy on the inside with a sugar-crisped exterior as its crowning glory: the ideal accompaniment to a bitter black coffee.

There were a few aspects that I would tweak if I could: food arrived at different times, plates were slow to be cleared, music could have been more appropriate and the wine list was cheekily priced. But, service was friendly and accommodating (if a little scatty), and their willingness to make adjustments - such as serving cream with the eccles cake - meant that some of the niggles could be forgiven. As with the house itself, the Brunswick House Cafe's imperfections are what gives it character - adjustments can always be made but the fundamental elements should never be changed.  

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