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Review: The Brigade Bar & Bistro on Tooley Street

Published 18 May 2013

At first glance, The Brigade is simply a restaurant serving good quality and seasonally fresh British food but take a closer look and you will see that it’s far more than just a restaurant.

Situated just a few minutes walk from London Bridge and among the corporate offices of Tooley street, The Brigade has been refurbished from an old fire station to a modern and comfortable bar. Walk beyond the bar and you’ll find an open kitchen showcasing the main stars of The Brigade – the trainee chefs.

the brigade

Opened in 2011, The Brigade is where the concept of the Beyond Food Foundation is put into practice.  The scheme provides life-changing opportunities for those who have been at risk of or have experienced homelessness. Apprentices are taken on for up to six months and are trained under the guidance of head chef Simon Boyle. On top of all this, the venue’s first floor can also be hired for cookery classes, business meetings and private parties.

the brigade interior

Their menu is simple and British with heavy emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal produce. It’s so local that their menu reads like an English guide with scallops from Cornwall, steak from Petworth and even Ale from Greenwich. So for starters, I took a trip to the west country and had their Wiltshire venison carpaccio, which was light, fresh and seasoned well with tangy Winchester cheese. My date on the other hand, went to the south west and ordered the seared Cornish scallops, which were cooked perfectly and had a wonderfully sour lime dressing.



So far so good and as the starter plates were cleared, I was ready to tuck in to a hearty bistro meal. Much to my bemusement though, my date was nursing a hangover and opted for the rather feminine Caesar salad, while I had the more substantial Stone Bass. As I happily ate mouthfuls of juicy bass and crushed potatoes, I turned over to my poorly date expecting to find him forking away at his pitiful salad.  I was surprised though, as the salad was more wholesome than I had expected, with chunky bits of chicken and huge lettuce leaves all darted with anchovies.

stone bass

caesar salad

For dessert, we shared a wonderfully airy dark chocolate parfait flavoured subtly with a hint of rose and sprinkled with attractive little rose petals. It was a decadent end to a great meal.

chocolate parfait

The food at The Brigade is far from haute cuisine but it’s honest food and it’s done well. It is a little more than you would expect to spend at a bistro though so be prepared to pay £30-£40 per person for a 3 course meal not including wine. But the blow is lessened when you consider where your money is going and I’d sooner pay a little more here where I’m helping a good cause than spend it at a chain restaurant.

Hannah Chung is an enthusiastic eater of food from around the world – you can find more of her food adventures at her Cook Eat Dream blog or follow her on Twitter at @cookeatdream

The Brigade Bar & Bistro
Address: Brigade, The Fire Station, 139 Tooley Street, London Bridge, London SE1 2HZ
Reservations: 0844 346 1225
Website: www.thebrigade.co.uk