I sometimes wonder if I’m the worst decision maker in the world. The strangest thing is that I’m most indecisive about the small insignificant things – what to order at a restaurant, which film to watch, which flavour of ice cream to choose, which day to train shoulders – the things that don’t matter.. And when it comes to making big decisions I just make a pros and cons list and almost don’t get phased by it. Choosing where to eat is one of those silly decisions that I just can’t make.. I eat out multiple times each week, every week, so I know I’m going to get to try most of the places on my list at some point but I still struggle every single week to pick which places to go!
When people come to visit me or it’s a special occasion I must consider about a million options, all of which are nice and all of which the person/people I’m going with would probably be perfectly happy with but I just go round in circles unable to choose one! Does anyone else have this problem!? Maybe I’m just crazy 🙂
The first time I went to Brickwood was when my parents and sister came to London to visit me. As always when I take people to eat at places (especially ones which I’ve never been to before) I was a little worried that they wouldn’t like it. I was also worried about how long we might have to wait as with most popular brunch places you can’t book, but it was a beautiful sunny day and we didn’t have to wait for too long. We were lucky enough to get a table outside at the back of the restaurant. It felt a lot more spacious than the tables inside and when the elusive British sun decides to make an appearance I love to make the most of it and eat outside. We ordered coffees and they had the usual distinctive taste that I’ve come to realise most Londoners (except me..!?) love. I can’t describe it but to me it tastes almost bittersweet with a bit of a fruity flavour and I’m not a big fan! Not that that stopped us from having multiple cups over a long lazy brunch 🙂
I’d heard about their famous banana bread with espresso butter and I couldn’t wait to try it but I decided to opt for something savoury first, as there were so many amazing things that I wanted to try on the menu. All of their dishes looked amazing and they tasted just as good! I ended up getting the Kumara – Sweet potato w/poached eggs, feta, kale pesto & pine nuts on sourdough. Marcus got the corn fritters w/ roasted vegetables, halloumi, beetroot crème fraîche & poached egg and they were both delicious 🙂 I always get the best deal when I share with him – he loves food just as much as me but he’s the most generous and kind hearted person I know and he always gives me the bigger half or the best parts because he knows just how happy it makes me 🙂
The banana bread absolutely lived up to its reputation. If you go for one reason alone, let it be the banana bread! It was a huge, thick slab, warm from the grill with beautiful charring and crunchy walnuts sprinkled on top. The ripe bananas made it soft and moist with a natural sweetness complimented perfectly by the slight bitterness of the espresso butter. Why has no one ever served up espresso butter before!? It’s divine!! Creamy and whipped with just a subtle hint of coffee – don’t be put off if you don’t like coffee as its not strong and I honestly can’t see anyone disliking it!
I’m not sure if the whole brunch thing was a little lost on my parents, particularly my dad – to be honest I think he would probably have been just as happy with a sausage sandwich from Wetherspoons! I absolutely love brunch but I’m not sure if it’s a bit of a London thing (!?) as a lot of other people seem to prefer to go out for dinner.. I think they enjoyed it though and it was nice to relax and catch up in the sun 🙂
The second time I decided to go to the one in Balham just for a change even though I guessed they’d be similar. The menu was slightly different but everything else was the same, even down to the ceiling lined with coffee bean sacks. We sat outside in the sun again but it was a lot hotter, and it was on the main street rather than in a back garden. It wasn’t particularly busy though so it was still pretty peaceful 🙂 I got two courses as always.. I was tempted to make it three but I had other places on my list for coffee and cake! I went savoury for starters and had wild mushrooms & poached egg w/ basil pesto, balsamic & tarragon on sourdough with a side of avocado. I don’t know why but I love bright/orange yolks and this one was perfect! Im not usually a huge fan of ricotta but it went perfectly with the saltiness of the mushrooms and the crunch of the pine nuts.
For afters there was only ever one item in contention – French toasted brioche w/ hints of orange & cinnamon. It was served with pecans and berries and it looked incredible!! Thick slabs of brioche piled high with toasted pecans in a sticky caramel sauce with a dusting of icing sugar.
The caramel sauce was too thick in my opinion- it was like eating caramel before it sets.. Has anyone ever tried to make caramel but it came out too thick and stuck to the pan!? It was a bit like that and could’ve done with being more sauce/syrup like rather than a thick, sticky mess – it was pretty hard to eat and I had to scrape it off the plate! If they’d kept it simple and just stuck with maple syrup it would’ve been perfect 🙂 The flavour went perfectly with the tangy slightly sour berries though and the brioche itself was incredibly light and fluffy. It was very good, but definitely not the best I’ve had.. The hint of orange didn’t work for me and the “sauce” did ruin it slightly. It certainly looked the part though and they almost nailed it.
Marcus went for the breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, hash, carnitas, red pepper salsa, avo and sour cream. He got the avocado on the side and gave it to me – I still haven’t managed to convince him that it’s delicious yet 😛 I had a couple of bites of that too of course and I loved it! 🙂
All in all it it was just as good as I remembered and I’ll probably go back again at some point 🙂 They had a few other things (including a Tim tam muffin!) that I’d like to try. They also had a few toasties behind the counter which looked and sounded quite good (BBQ pork, cheese, mustard and gherkins in particular!) but I saw a couple of people order them and they looked pretty average once toasted (not to mention there are entire shops dedicated to grilled cheese if that’s what you want!).
While we were there we were shocked at the size of the queue at Milk next door! That’s on my list too so I’ll definitely be back in Balham to try it even though it’s a bit of a trek for me to get to south London.
Okay.. one more picture of the french toast 😛
Would I recommend it? Yes
Worth going out of your way for? Yes – there are three branches, all are in South London though.
Would I go back? Yes!
Link to their website: http://www.brickwoodlondon.com