STALKS AND SNOUTS ON COLUMBIA ROAD

Organising activities and interesting eating experiences for mixed generation (3 in this case) groups in London can be tricky but last weekend it was expertly achieved.

Early Sunday morning the extended HM family ventured to East London, Columbia road to be more precise. Depending who you asked in the group, the major draw was either a vibrant flower market, scores of independent shops or a great simple restaurant specialising in piggy delights.

Hamish

The flower market has been operating here for years and has been the catalyst for the transformation of the area into a retail paradise. Within 400m of tightly packed stalls you will see the very best quality blooms London, and the world, has to offer. They are all sold by ‘characters’ who enjoy the rather one way banter with the foreign visitors more than they should.

The floral rat run has been enveloped by a ring of varied independent shops. They started selling flower accessories but now include suitably edgy East London art, interesting jewellery, antique maps, colourful anchovy and sardine tins (below) and glassware and vintage everything. The shops include a beautiful space from Buddug and Jessie, bringing a nice reminder of home.

anchovies

Shopping is tough, so tough that is it vital to pre book a restorative table at a local restaurant to recuperate. Brawn was just the ticket. Nicely disguised on the corner of Columbia road and Ravenscroft St, the restaurant doesn’t rely on big flashy signs or complicated menus to attract the punters. Instead a wonderful logo, quietly stencilled on a few walls, tells you everything you need to know about the restaurant.

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Brawn specialises in rustic French food and natural wines. Our set menu included 3 starters to share – tomato salad with monk’s beard and runny eggs, Catalan salt cod salad and pork and pistachio terrine. These were swiftly followed by roast beef with greens, potatoes and the sweetest carrots around.  The tiramisu we had to round it all off was served like a school dinner but tasted like an Italian coffee cloud that had been dusted with sweetness. Bloody brilliant.

The staff were great to us – they recommended some very interesting (a little too interesting for some) orange wine, looked after our 12 bunches of flowers and even catered for our vegetarian contingent.

A Sunday to remember, and definitely one we’d recommend.

Images: J Lea-Wilson/ Brawn logo

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