THE BRICKHOUSE: SWINGING FROM THE RAFTERS BUT NOT SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS
I guess eating at a place that is set up as a combined performance space and dining room on a weekday lunchtime when I am jet lagged to buggery is not the fairest way to judge a restaurant. But, my view is, if they are open and taking cold hard cash from people then it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, they should be able to deliver.
I have been out of touch a bit recently with all of my Stateside peregrinations. So, when it came to finding a suitable spot for lunch today, I am not proud to say that I consulted that least literary of magazines, The Caterer to find out if anything interesting had opened in the neighbourhood.
Up popped The Brickhouse in the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Open for about four weeks it is, as I say, a space where you can combine your eating pleasures with the chance to watch burlesque or people cavorting around on a trapeze while shaking nipple tassels in one's general direction. I am not quite sure why this may be a good thing, but I guess they have done their research.
Thankfully, when I trundled up for lunch, there was no one trying to perform acrobatics in the place and I did not get too close a look at anyone's booty. In fact, up to the point I was about to leave, I was the only one there and had a booth for six on the mezzanine floor all to my lonesome self.
They are obviously expecting people to come along for lunch, circus acts or not, and offer a deal of two courses for £20 (three for £24) It is all pretty identikit med-mix stuff with a carpaccio here and a bit of gnocchi there with nothing to scare the performers from their perches.
A Venison Carpacchio (should it have an “h” in it? It does on the menu) had a crunchy coating of Sichuan pepper and came with a drizzle of garlic dressing and that over powering combination of rocket and truffle oil which is becoming a blight on unimaginative menus all over the country. It all combined to make a harmless mush lacking any spark of life or imagination.
They had pork belly on the menu, so my second choice was already made. It looked the part, coming with small, sweet shrimps and capers. However, it also came on a bed of buttered bok choi which upped the fat content of the dish to the point that it left a greasy residue in my mouth that I can still taste an hour of so later.
I skipped pudding and tea and got the bill which came to £31 including a couple of glasses of wine and service which was efficient and very amiable.
My waiter told me that they are now getting quite busy in the evenings and I can believe it. It is a good looking space, it has an interesting cocktail list (not having tried one I can’t say how well made they may be) and could be a fun place to pass an evening watching people doing a fan dance. But, amongst the many reasons why it may succeed, the food, which is barely competent, is not going to be one of them.