Location: London, England
Cuisine: Basque / British
I’ve been wanting to go to BRAT ever since moving to Northeast London. I mean, it’s not a hidden gem since BRAT has had a Michelin star since October 2018. The cuisine is heavily influenced by Basque recipes and traditions, hence why the main feature of BRAT is the grill. They truly have a menu of dreams.
First up we had the Spider Crab Toast. Brat’s Instagram indicates that they’ve had this dish on and off the menu over the years. They’re able to get a steady supply of delicious Cornish Spider Crab, which is truly the key to this spider crab salad on toast. The crab is so sweet and scrumptious. We then had the Grilled Bread w/ Wild Garlic & St Helena. I’m always a bit hesitant to get bread as I feel like it takes up valuable space in my stomach, but wow, this delicious poofed-up bread was so fluffy. At the time, wild garlic was everywhere so I was thrilled to be having it at the restaurant. And finally, St Helena is a wonderful new cheese from Norfolk.
While everything so far had been delicious, something really special was in store: Hake Kokotxas. Kokotxas is a traditional Basque fish stew. The dish is made from stewed fish necks, normally from fatty fish like cod or hake. BRAT of course was a little creative with the presentation and served the fish throats in three different ways, the third of which is a piece of that traditional stew.
The next two plates were the Leeks with Walnut & Fresh Cheese and the Mackerel with Soused Jerusalem Artichoke. The leeks dish is a classic combo of delicious flavours, but the quality of the ingredients really shines through. The mackerel was fantastic. Soused means “preserved”, so the Jerusalem artichoke had such an interesting texture and flavour. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
And now for some mains. We had the Lemon Sole, which was cooked to perfection and dressed so delicately to complement this tender fish. On the side we had some Smoked Potatoes, a nice simple dish to accompany the fish and also remind us that this is a grill-focused restaurant.
For our second main we had another fish dish, Plaice ‘pil-pil’ with Clams. Pil-pil sauce is another Basque element on the menu. Traditionally, it’s made by cooking skin-on fillets of salt cod in garlic-infused oil. Once the fish is removed, the milky white protein traces left behind are whisked into a sauce to emulsify them with the garlic oil.
Probably the most famous export from the Basque country is their cheesecake, and so we knew way in advance that we had to order the Burnt Cheesecake & Rhubarb. Oh my lord. It is so incredibly delicious, it pales other desserts in comparison. Wow. The term tour de force is used a lot in films, but I’d definitely use it to describe this cheesecake. I decided to also order the Caramel Cream even though I thought it wouldn’t be nearly as good as the cheesecake. Well, this dessert was all an 11/10. It’s hands down one of the best flans I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some pretty good ones over the course of my many trips to Spain.
As you can tell, our BRAT experience was an incredible evening full of outstanding dishes. The highlights for me were the Hake Kokotxas, Mackerel with Soused Jerusalem Artichoke, Lemon Sole and both desserts! Seriously, treat yourself.
Seriously, get yourself over to BRAT. You won’t regret it.