One of the clear highlights over what’s been a pretty weird year-and-a-half-plus-a-bit for everybody was a visit down the road to Brook’s, where a new team had taken over a restaurant that, despite its longevity, I’d oddly never got around to visiting. (Well, not that odd really, as I allude to in my review here.)
Go, and be sure to have the crispy potato terrine. Go, and have only the crispy potato terrine if needs be.
Following that flawless tea in the fuggy time between lockdowns, a return trip was naturally bunged on the to-do-list. Pure coincidence, however, that this brunch jaunt came on the same morning as Jay Rayner’s starry-eyed review was published in the Observer.
By 10.30am the place is full to busting. By 11.30am so am I.
We start with a couple of homemade crumpets. The dough mix, stodgy in the best way, has already enriched but having promenaded along the canal prior to our reservation and nodded knowingly at late-Autumn’s beauty I feel the subsequent slathering of whipped butter is deserved. Four quid for two, and the only serious rivals to Warburtons on the market.
In a spin on shakshuka, a cast iron skillet fresh from a piping hot oven brings with it a brace of baked eggs immersed in an excellent tomato sauce. The tomatoes are fresh, and laced with those sweet tommies of the sun-dried variety that bring zest and a nudge of cumin that brings zip. The lot is spiked with a thwack of black olives. There are of course Bloody Marys available for the tender-headed, but this will equally do the trick. (£8.50)
Fingers of homemade salmon pastrami have us looking up recipes to see if we can knock something similar up at home which, of course, we’ll never do. It’s a neat alternative to smoked salmon. Fleshier, more substantial, with a dark treacle-like sweetness. Ribbons of lightly pickled cucumber add refreshing bite. A couple of poached eggs tick the pert and poppable box. (£9.50)
The place is bustling but service is, as it was on our maiden visit, easy-going and on-the-case. In the hours since the Rayner review bookings by email, we’re told, are into the hundreds.