On the table: Brunswick House Café
Author: Victoria Stewart
My experience of people talking about Vauxhall was in reference to it having a park amusingly called the pleasure gardens, a famous community café, a roller disco, gay nightclubs, the twisted silver bus station you passed on your way to the Tate Britain, and of course all those high-rises and traffic. In 2011 conversations turned to ‘that really amazing restaurant in the old house’, and lately there have been exchanges about how Vauxhall’s bleakness will improve when the Battersea Power Station development finally gets finished.
Whether it will remains to be seen, but lately my stomach has pulled me to this part of south-west London to experience all manner of new food things including an ace market in said pleasure field and an excellent Scottish pop-up restaurant. More importantly, I’ve now been twice to the aforementioned ‘really amazing restaurant’, and I’m beginning to form a happy attachment to it.
The place I’m referring to is of course Brunswick House Café, which is inside a large Georgian house just a quick dash across the horrid A3036 and run by a rather special chef called Jackson Boxer, who seems to know how to feed his guests the kind of food they want to eat, before they know they even want it.
Named after the Duke of Brunswick who briefly lived here, the building is now owned by antiques business LASSCO, hence the whole place, from the smoking parlour and reception rooms to the restaurant itself, is completely crammed with vintage trinkets for sale. Marble nymphs balance among the greenery outside; inside, you can pad across a grey and white tiled floor to admire the treasure, an embarrassment of globe lamps, sketches of fish, great gold mirrors, and so forth. Either side of an archway two elephants bend their trunks down as if to say, ‘Ah, Lovely Guest, welcome.’
On my last visit I feasted on devilishly good pot-roast pork on a Sunday, but this time my father and I are here for a light lunch (three courses for £19). ‘Sardine, cucumber and crisp shallot’ is an enjoyable jaunt involving lovely soft fish, fiddly cucumber balls, and briefly charred leaves, the whole lot leaving a pleasant residual acidity. ‘Cauliflower, fennel and mustard’ is tart too, with a slick of oil; while ‘aubergine, lollo rosso and onion squash’ makes me think of the countryside, so earthy are the flavours – a touch of char and splodge of dill mayonnaise round it off. I am intrigued but uplifted by the next combination of mackerel with gooseberry and courgette; its flavours are full of life, illustrative of how I’m feeling today. A final board of three cheeses – tangy Doddington, chalky Harbour Blue and a softer sheep’s cheese – served with homemade seeded crackers and, cleverly, three sweetly pickled baby beetroots, is an ideal finish.
Come and pay this place another visit.
What we drank: A carafe of 2013 Sauvignon de Touraine, Domaine Guy Allion, Loire
Brunswick House Café, 30 Wandsworth Road, SW8 2LG