From October 6, it’s British Egg Week, the latest in a long string of themed-timescales that includes the likes of ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ and ‘Movember’. Brew-Café in Battersea are taking to this with supreme gusto.
If you’ve ever visited an area of volcanic activity, you’ll know there’s a certain smell that hangs in the air around the geysers and lava flows. Sulfurous, strong, pungent, or very simply just ‘eggy’. I wonder if that’s part of why I’ve always found eggs to be a somewhat prehistoric form of food.
The language surrounding them is suitably brutal – scrambling, poaching, cracking the shell, breaking or bursting the yolk. They evoke a certain period of human existence before the gentrified, agricultural society we have become – ‘BC’ – before cutlery. Eggs have become one of the building blocks of our cuisine, whipped and cajoled into a million different forms and textures.
Brew doesn’t necessarily share my primal attachment to eggs – things here are a lot slicker. The decor is clean and functional, with a large chalkboard decrying the day’s specials. They proudly proclaim that their eggs are from Burford Browns, often described as ‘Britain’s favourite hen’. While they offer a menu for all times of day, I’m here for brunch, the quintessential egg-focused meal.
The Turkish eggs are a triumph – a mound of whipped, hung yoghurt is topped with two perfectly poached eggs that leak their yolk with one sharp cut. The concoction is drenched in hot chilli butter and comes with a slice of doorstop-thick, crusty bread to mop up the collective juices. There’s a touch too much yoghurt for my taste, but the quality of the eggs shines through, the yolks a glorious golden ochre.
The other dish – the ‘folded’ eggs with chorizo is unremarkable. I’m a great believer that a well-put together menu is descriptive, using language to draw you in, but these eggs are scrambled rather than folded as the menu suggests. The dish is flavoursome – whenever you add chorizo there’s that glorious right-hand hook of garlic and paprika. But at £9.50, it’s not cheap and it lacks the refinement and thoughtfulness shown by the preceding dish.
The coffee comes in a lovely mug, and has the now-standard flat white fern on top, but it’s undistinguished. I’m not excited by the freshly pressed juice (pear, mint and ‘Granny Smith’ apples) either.
I want to love Brew – it has all of the components of an excellent brunch destination, but I leave with a sense of unfulfillment. It feels like too much style and too little substance. Everything falls ever-so-slightly short of what I hope for – these problems aren’t damning individually, but taken together it’s harder to see them as one-offs.
Brew has an excellent menu, a well-located premises and a sassy business model, but maybe that’s the problem. They’ve ticked all the boxes on the checklist, and forgotten that I’m not a questionnaire. Still, if it’s a modern spin on a prehistoric favourite that you’re after, you could do much worse.
45 Northcote Road
Tel: 020 7585 2198