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Brigade Bar & Bistro (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Brigade Bar & Bistro in London Bridge & Bermondsey, London

The Fire Station, 139 Tooley Street, London Bridge & Bermondsey, London, SE1 2HZ
Cuisine: British
Tel: Not on file | Email to Brigade Bar & Bistro | Transport: London Bridge | Write review

Brigade Bar & Bistro Review

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Best for: beautifully cooked food which tastes as good as it looks; eating out with a social conscience.

Great: portion sizes; alcoves for a bit of secluded dining if seclusion is what you want.

As we open the door I instantly detect office. Bizarre, given that this is the recently opened restaurant, Brigade. I definitely detect office though, and it’s not just the party of suits at the bar. My accountant friend doesn’t get it but my instincts are razor sharp and though I don’t spend much time in offices these days, I have done in the past and clearly the memory stays strong. I smell office.

I’m right, of course. PriceWaterhouseCoopers own a third of the restaurant. I knew it. The kitchen is the preserve of Simon Boyle, the chef founder, who also has a third share of Brigade and who set up the restaurant in a fire station on Tooley Street that PriceWaterhouseCoopers bought as part of a job lot. The third third: that’s when De Vere Venues stepped in.

We’re welcomed by the restaurant manager and a large gin & tonic which we sip at the bar, part of which overlooks the open working kitchen centre stage of the restaurant. Despite the air of office still hanging about, so far so good.

It feels a bit like an off-site PWC canteen, albeit a quality one. My aversion to offices isn’t about the workers (my guest is an accountant, after all, and hey, we’re all people). It’s more to do with the corporate culture that surrounds it. Call me naive but I’m into peace and harmony and loving your fellow man wherever possible and when did love and peace have anything to do with the antagonism and endless one-up-man-ship of corporate enterprise?

Besides, it’s my pre-birthday dinner and I’m not looking forward to my impending age so let’s see if Brigade’s cuisine can ease the inevitable.

Sat at a round table near the window we look on over the other diners and the open kitchen at the far end of the room. The look is clean, sharp and contemporary with a nod to tradition in the book shelves, fireplaces and wine racks. It’s relatively quiet but it is a rainy Monday evening and the manager assures me that most nights are packed. We could have opted for one of the large alcoves for a bit of seclusion but I want to see what’s going on.

I order the smoked salmon with crab salad to start. The shavings of fresh ginger are perfect with the oily fish, zingy and fresh; I’ll definitely have to stock up on some ginger at home. The vegetable broth with chervil and truffle pesto is also great; thick, chunky and full of flavour, as are the home-made bread rolls. Thankfully, the smell of the food is slowly consuming the presence of office and I begin to feel relaxed. This is probably due, in good part, to the couple of glasses of wine I’ve had, but the waiters are warm and charming too. I ask for a wine recommendation and while the waiter doesn’t have the knowledge of a sommelier, he does recommend a good Austrian white. A popular choice apparently and it complements the food well.

Next, over wafts a rabbit leg stuffed with morels, apricots and pine nuts and a rich, creamy, vegetarian risotto with tempura vegetables. I love the rabbit, it’s soft and tender and the portion sizes are as big as I have at home. Bigger, in fact, because we have to leave some vegetables and I love my veg.

Now despite the wine, my instincts are still pretty sharp and I can see that a lot of genuine care and attention has gone into Brigade. The food is fantastic. There’s also the Beyond Food Foundation which goes out to people living in hostels, offering to train them as chefs at the Brigade college (a kind of Jamie Oliver type enterprise) while corporate guests can make, knead and break bread together upstairs in the fire station, or alternatively make love and resolve corporate wars while cooking their own food in the kitchens.

The ethos here is great - ‘Brigade is a business with a social mission’ - but the scent of corporate culture is pervasive. Personally, I like to work and eat in places where the barriers are already down or were never there in the first place. Still, situated near The Shard, that tower of soon-to-be frenetic commercial gain and pain, Brigade is going to be a busy restaurant. If my memory of office life serves me right, those bread kitchens are going to be working at full pelt and who knows, if those warring breadmakers end up eating a cosy harmonious meal cooked by Beyond Food Foundation trainees in the restaurant afterwards, it’ll be social mission accomplished.
...read more

Claire Roberts

Customer Reviews for Brigade Bar & Bistro

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Brigade Bar & Bistro.

“I had a dinner at Brigade twice and both times it was a great experience. Place was busy but staff looked after us, food was delicious - I had burger and my wife had lobster and desert - iocecream. Wine was delicious - Malbec and overall everything was just smooth and chilled. Really great experience.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Mick Jordan, London (1 months 28 days ago)

“Round the corner from London Bridge, Brigade is a trendy bar and restaurant, was fab as we could chat without having to shout over loud music ...drinks were reasonable price. The food at the restaurant was great and I would recommend it .”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Parmla Narad, Wembley (2 years 3 months 22 days ago)

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Additional Information

Brigade Bar & Bistro Food & Drinks

Events and other great things going on at Brigade Bar & Bistro

TRICKS OF THE TRADE MASTERCLASS <br /> 27 March, 24 April, 29 May and 26 June 2012, 10 – 2.30pm <br /> £45 per person (available for groups and individuals) <br /> <br /> <br /> This fantastic opportunity will give students the chance to learn first hand from a top chef how to create a delicious two course menu and then afterwards, sit down and enjoy the results. The masterclasses will run in tandem with themed events in the bistro, including the Best of Borough Market and Champagne and Shellfish, showcasing quality seasonal ingredients and how best to prepare and serve them.

Updated 21/03/2012

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