BrickHouse

| 152c Brick Lane, London | http://www.thebrickhouse.co.uk | ingested 11th Sep ’09 |

Amidst the buzz emanating from Shoreditch’s vibrant bars and the shouts of Banglatown’s curry salesmen promising free Cobra on the house, the Brickhouse is seeking to rejuvenate the lost art of the supper club. With entertainment ranging from magicians to cabaret stars, burlesque dancers to Edith Piaf impersonators, this restaurant-cum-supper club offers a truly alternative night out in London’s east end.

Housed within the historic Old Truman Brewery, a minimalist but spacious dining area and bar are spread over the ground and first floors. The upper, loft-style mezzanine levels soar above the ground floor stage area, creating a 3 storey, floor-to-ceiling performance space for trapeze artists and circus acts to risk their lives while you enjoy the Modern European fare on offer. This was my second time here, and the restaurant management had undergone a makeover since my first visit when the venue launched in late ‘07. Appears even supperclubs are affected by the credit crunch – in place of the once up-market ala carte menu of old were two seasonal 25 quid 5-course set menus (one meat and the other vegetarian), offering classic, fail-safe combinations such as Steak with Bearnaise and Salmon with watercress.

Seated in spacious, vintage-red diner styled booths on the upper level, we were made to feel at home straightaway by the Catalan waitress on call who attended to our drinks and orders. Our first course of breaded lamb breast was extremely tender and cooked to perfection. Surprisingly, the fragrant basil pesto and sharp acidity from the gherkins in the tartare sauce was a more than adequate stand-in for the usual trinity of mint, rosemary or thyme.

First Course

First Course : Breaded breast of lamb | Pesto | Tartare Sauce

Next, a faultless pan-fried salmon fillet, served with watercress, fennel and white wine veloute was served. The plating here was immaculate – the orange-pink flesh and perfectly symmetric fennel cubes were finished with beautiful red cress leaves on a black slate.

Second Course

Second Course: Pan-fried Salmon fillet | Fennel and red watercress | White-wine veloute

The rest of the food which followed was decent, but nothing to shout about really. The main course of Ribeye steak and Chips, served with Bearnaise sauce and Anchovy Butter was cooked to order and as you would expect, but a tad safe and in desperate need of some mojo. The mediocrity continued with the dessert courses. Strawberry soup with Mascarpone ice-cream was yummy, but underdressed for the occasion in the white cereal bowl it was served in. The final course of Raspberry compote and Chocolate granache was again pleasant, but a bit repetitive given the use of red berries in the previous course.

Main Course and Dessert

Main Course: Rib-eye Steak | Pont-neuf fries | Anchovy Butter | Bearnaise Sauce; Dessert: Strawberry “soup” | Mascarpone ice-cream

What was lacking in the latter food courses was made up in part by the entertainment. Leo and Yam’s cirque were in the house that evening – a variety circus act of acrobats, contortionists, dancers and jugglers. However, Leo and Yam themselves were the stars of the evening, wowing the crowd with some death-defying aerial acrobatics – a mere rope hung from the ceiling was their sole prop as they twirled and somersaulted through the air during the dessert course.

Leo and Yam

Aerialists Leo&Yam in flight

Acrobat

Acrobat in action

Our hostess, a playful, Columbian accordion player-cum-juggler did well to break the ice and work the quieter than usual Friday night crowd between the acts (she did of course brandish the whip once in a while…). Her deliberate ploys to seduce ever-eager male audience members to learn the “Art of Seduction” with her was well received by all (apart from the volunteers’ female partners of course!).

Hostess and Main Dining Area

All said, the Brickhouse is worth a visit if you are feeling something a little outoftheordinary. London could use more of such places that are willing to put their necks on the line to challenge the concept of a night out.

G.
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