London restaurant quick hit: Brunswick House Cafe, SW8

“The short and simple way of describing Brunswick House Cafe is that it is perfect,” writes John Lanchester at The Guardian, in a solid review. Rather than waste time repeating his efforts I’ll let you head over there and support some good old-fashioned newspaper journalism, but if your attention span has been decimated by Twitter or you can’t be bothered the most interesting fact in the piece is that the Brunswick House Cafe proprietor’s brother “runs the legendary Campari Bar on top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham.”

This is still, I promise, a quick hit review of the Brunswick House Cafe (of which, before I forget, there’s a Flickr gallery of pictures here), but a Campari Bar on top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham is worth a digressive paragraph. Perhaps a digressive life. Even without having been there I am already contemplating which kind of champagne to order for the opening of my oyster bar atop Croydon’s NLA Tower. Inspiring, but back to the Brunswick.

It is near the MI6 building in Vauxhaull in a Georgian house, which is also home to Lassco Architectural Salvage. There’s no clear boundary between the salvage business and the restaurant, so you eat amidst an engaging collection of quirky old relics. The Brunswick’s character is incongruous with the Dubai feel of the immediate area:

The food is modern British with a nod to Fergus Henderson, whose sweetly brash philosophy was best-summarised for this writer when Henderson told him that there’s “nothing finer than sharing a pig’s head with your loved one.” Here, for example, is melty-mouthy Spanish black pudding with beans, chard and a red pepper relish, which cost £10.80 on the Sunday brunch menu:

Yes, that’s the black pudding made with congealed blood, for any disbelieving American readers. We do actually enjoy it over here, even in Little Chefs, which are like our branches of Denny’s. But it was refreshing to be reminded of London’s enthusiasm for culinary non-squeamishness having eaten four days ago at a place that entirely restricted its menu to the safety of steak and chicken.

The menu changes daily but if you believe a good chef, like a good storyteller, can work with any material then you’re on my wavelength. Here’s devilled Cornish cod and mussels on toast, which was £11.80. A mussel in the devil’s clutches was alone worth an hour’s drive from Croydon on the scooter:

Sweet, post-main choices included a strong selection of pastries such as pains au chocolat and Portugese custard tarts. The chef also offered a warm sourdough albeit Americanised-spelling-ed “donut” with apricot compote and crème fraîche for £5. A proper dessert. Service was provided by a group of well-dressed, take-us-as-you-find-us twenty-somethings.

Tell ‘em what they’ve won, Bully…

Brunswick House Cafe, 30 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LG.

Stars out of five: ****

Nearest tube station: Vauxhall.

Reservations? Yes. 020 7394 2100.

Veggie catered for? Roast tomatoes and aioli on toast for £6.80. Soft boiled eggs, anchoide and radishes £6.60.

Bill per person? £20 for a solid sit-down. More with wine from the varied list.

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