"Brasa’s Soulful Sundays offer a lesson in Cajun flavours"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Member’s club Broadway House opened in September on Fulham Broadway. More excitingly its restaurant, Brasa, is fantastic, plain and simple. There are smart dishes like smoked eel and potato salad, hunky steaks, potted rabbit, and spatchcock baby chicken with harissa; the kitchen’s pride and joy is a grill imported from Spain which lends the food the unmistakable aroma of charcoal, and the dining room itself is a delight to eat in, light and airy with heaps of space between tables.
Initially Brasa was closed on a Sunday, but a new brunch and dinner concept revolving around Cajun cuisine has now been introduced. Between 11am and 4pm the brunch menu is available, while supper is offered between 6pm and 10pm. There is a small but suitable wine list - a crisp, refreshing Chablis for £34 is perfectly suited to Cajun flavours, often wrongly considered to be spicy rather than simply well-seasoned. Originating in the southern states of the US, Cajun food typically contains a mixture of paprika, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic powder, and various herbs; predominant foods are crayfish, okra, and grilled meats, hence Brasa have recruited Ashbell McElveen, a South Carolina native who knows a thing or two about cooking food on a barbecue, and whose credentials include a stint at the Serpentine’s Summer Café, and heading up his own restaurant, Soul Food, in Notting Hill.
McElveen’s Sunday brunch menu immediately looks like perfect hangover food – the Full Texas has a 250g sirloin steak, smoky bacon, eggs, baked beans and an onion and mushroom hash potato, another dish, called the “drunken turkey steak”, is cooked in a Jack Daniels-based sauce.
There is a slight delay with our order so we are brought two starter-sized dishes of gumbo while we wait; crayfish in a briny, fishy stock is paired with lovely, crispy grilled okra. The Full Cajun has a fried egg with a runny yolk, the chef’s very own bespoke piquant sausages, several rashers of smoked crispy bacon, and a leek and spiced potato hash which is not to be confused with a hash brownie, here crayfish, leeks, potato, onion and peppers are diced and fried with seasoning. In case this isn’t filling enough there is also a separate plate with thickly sliced toast and butter.
The Iberian pork has been grilled till crisp on the outside but is rare in the middle; a tad worrisome perhaps, but this is Pata Negra pork which has been fed on a diet of acorns and more usually cured to make Serrano ham, here served as an escalope covered in a flavoursome Cajun rub, with a side of fried onion and sweet potato.
Desserts include cheesecake, ice creams (smooth caramel, a sweet and creamy ginger with a spicy aftertaste, sherry which tastes like maraschino cherry) and the Southern pound cake, its slightly grainy texture suggesting polenta or semolina but it’s merely flour, sugar and butter that make these tasty, bready fingers, served with light clotted cream and strawberries.
More than comfort food, the meal has been a lesson in flavour. Brunch for two with dessert and wine is around £70.
Leila reviewed Broadway House on Wed 02 Nov 2011