Ever experienced the delights of the Vauxhall Roundabout in South London? It’s a sprawling, huge endless loop of busy roads, with a bus station plonked right in the middle looking like a metallic Soviet space structure. Railway tunnels house warren-like nightclubs, storage facilities and the odd cavernous restaurant, such as Nando’s. The Vauxhall Tavern holds its own on its small bit of pavement, standing up proudly to the roar of traffic. This chunk of Vauxhall screams chaos and noise, it’s a visual-aural punch in the face. The last place you’d expect to want to go out for dinner.
Because, amid all the noise and fumes and motion stands a beautiful restaurant, housed in a crumbling Georgian mansion, home also to Lassco Salvage. Stepping into Brunswick House Cafe (which, as its name belies, is a very grown up restaurant and bar) is like falling down a wormhole in time, back to a glamorous theatrical age of red velvet curtains, antique mirrors and bejewelled chandeliers. You pass through a beautiful bar stuffed with old knick knacks and curiosities, then walk into a stunning dining area lit from above by about 100 mis-matched chandeliers and lights. It is a vintage-lover’s heaven. You forget all about the Vauxhall traffic. And the food is really incredibly good.
Step this way…
The bar area, decorated with beautiful shiny things:
Pretty drinks. A martini (left) and an apple, mint and gin concoction. LOVE the glasses:
The bartenders, who I felt should have been wearing velvet frock coats and powdered wigs, instead of looking all 21st century:
And now this, the restaurant:
It is like dining in a beautiful rococo jewel box. You cannot stop staring at all the trinkets. And if you are a bit of a magpie like me, you’ll be thinking a lot about what would look good and shiny in your home. Until you look at the price tags, that is. One tiny pendant light (of which you’d need three to make a set) retailed at £195. You get the idea.
The food is amazing. I suppose you could describe it as Modern British. It has one of those terse menus where everything is separated by a comma and then ends abruptly. You know, ‘Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Kale, Anchovy.’ That sort of thing. Always makes me snort with laughter. It is like the chef is really ANGRY about having to communicate what he’s serving, or can’t be bothered with using ‘and’ because it wastes time. There are so many menus written in this uptight manner. Is there an official way to describe this trend? I find it a bit laborious.
My photos got progressively worse as the lights dimmed. Sorry about that. I simply refuse to start ‘papping’ the food with an annoying flash.
Impressive, craggy sourdough bread from Brick House Bread in East Dulwich. So good that I ordered a second plate and took the remaining slice home in my handbag:
A little appetiser of Polish smoked sausage and beetroot mustard. We wolfed down these guys in about 40 seconds:
‘Crab, Laver, Peas, Lovage’ – a deliciously fresh and salty combo that tasted of the sea, even though the photo makes it look like a black hole:
No, this is not roadkill as the photo suggests, it is ‘Barbarry Duck Leg, Girolles, Blueberries, Mint’ aka the most delicious duck leg I have EVER eaten. It came in a buttery, savoury ‘gravy’ that I wanted to lick off the plate. I would buy this sauce in a litre carton and drink it as a beverage:
This? I have no idea. Even after re-studying the menu. Sorry!
This is definitely lemon pie ice cream, despite the appearance of a dun-coloured boulder in a glass. (Thanks, crap phone camera!) It was delicious though – nice and tangy.
Other highlights included a ‘Bavette Tartare, Mussels, Dripping Toast’. It was absolutely epic – tender raw chopped beef full of flavour, coupled with smoky, savoury funk of the mussel sauce and the crispy toast. The photo I took made it look like someone had an accident, so I can’t show it to you. We also had lovely roasted potatoes and greens.
The only down note during the entire evening was the lethargy in service at the beginning of the meal. We waited 20 minutes for some tap water, then another 20 minutes for our order to be taken and wine to be brought. When you’re hungry, and the restaurant is only 2/3 full, this is AGONY. Especially when the serving staff do that very knowing thing of deliberately avoiding your gaze when they walk around the restaurant. They did this again when we wanted to pay. Drives me fucking mental. First world problems and all that.
Let’s look at those chandeliers again:
The menu, where the word ‘and’ is banned:
Brunswick House Cafe
30 Wandsworth Road