But, first things first, I need to reacquaint you with Brigade. The mantra is simple; Together with their charity Beyond Food Foundation, Brigade offers vulnerable people of all ages catering apprenticeships, giving them tools for a brighter future and has seen huge success since launching. And good food, in my previous visit.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Brigade, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit. And revisit.
Accompanied by my discerning husband (monikered Mr Kiwi) we were seated on a grey autumnal day to try their specially designed #socialsaturday menu in support of social enterprises, much like their good selves.
We began our meal with a ridiculously lovely selection of warm bread (including gluten-free) slathered with proper salted butter and something that was a revelation; warmed stone-in olives. They just melt in your mouth, bathing your tastebuds in the piquantly moreishness that found in a beautiful olive can, only exponentially. They were like tiny explosions of pizza.
I opted to begin with the seared mackerel which overall was delicious and fresh, but a too-generous sauce hand rendered the dish slightly too acidic for my palate. The leaves provided a beautiful crunch to counterpoint the succulent skin-on mackerel, the manuka honey a soft high note, but brought too tart by the pomegranates. But stay with me - my British carnivore adored his perfectly cooked scotch eggs, and loved the green apple slaw so much he stole my fork and loaded it up for me to try. You know it's destined love when a man share his green apple slaw with you.
We were unanimous in our main selection (vegetarians look away); it had to be the Casterbridge sirloin from Tablehurst Farm, with sticky treacle and garlic cure, caramelised shallot, and carrot salad and horseradish cream. It was scandalously good, and believe me, I'm a Kiwi girl who expects big things from a steak.
The treacle and garlic cure encasing the flame grilled meat ensured succulent mouthfuls of steak heaven. Then, the perfectly barbequed fat (yes, yes, I know that a doctor somewhere is probably having a heart attack on my behalf) had me closing my eyes and luxuriating in the flavour. Simply heavenly. We were surprised by the accompanying caramelized shallot and carrot salad, but combined with the generous serving of horseradish cream, accompanied the steak beautifully
Our savoury appetites sated with gusto, we selected his 'n hers desserts. Whilst Meantime Brewery (just a mile or so down the river, literally) is a delectable brew...
...but I found a divine dessert that I couldn't turn down. Passionfruit chocolate cheesecake accompanied by a soupcon of tart ice cream on a bed of cheesecake crumble. It was a perfect balance of yin and yang; rich, luxurious chocolate crowned with a beautifully sweet, tart passion fruit layer. I dreamed of this dessert for at least a week - it's not often that heaven can be found at the end of a fork.
We worked off a few calories exploring the upstairs workrooms again; finally getting a decent pic of the teaspoon 'borrowed' from David Cameron opening the restaurant;
...admiring the funky decor...
...and pockets of private dining rooms.
I for one (or Mr Kiwi and I for two) have enjoyed every meal we've tried that comes out of the apprenticed kitchens. What a place, what a foundation, what a fantastic addition to the burgeoning London Bridge food scene. If you really need an excuse, think of Brigade as a scrumptious donation towards a worthy social enterprise really caring about the people and lives they are helping to rebuild.
All this, and whispers on the grapevine have mentioned a their new seasonal menu launching soon!