139 Tooley Street, Southwark, London, SE1 2HZ
Housed in what was once a fire station, this airy and handsome restaurant is part of a unique social enterprise. Apprenticeships are available for the homeless here meaning a meal at Brigade isn’t just a delicious treat; it’s a way to help someone gain a life-changing skill. Pictures of smiling past apprentices adorn the walls and attest to the programme’s success. The British-inspired menu changes monthly to showcase the fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Our waiter recommended the two most popular starters and after sampling them, we were glad we’d adhered to his advice. I tucked into foraged mushrooms atop sourdough toast, accompanied by a pan-fried duck egg. The components worked together well; the mushroom was wonderfully creamy, and the egg bursting with flavour. Meanwhile, my partner enjoyed robust Cornish mackerel, which was offset by zingy pomegranate seeds and sweet honey. Our mains of pulled mutton shepherd’s pie with crunchy greens and Dorman’s venison steamed pudding paired with spätzle and cinnamon and cacao pears showed real innovation and skill. From the high standards, we would never have guessed that the cuisine was coming from a training kitchen. For me, the star of the meal was the custard tart, with a fabulous quince jam and nutmeg ice cream. British cheeses and biscuits, plus quince jelly and grapes rounded off our meal. Visitors are welcome to simply pop into the Brigade for a drink – though with food this delicious, it really is worth stopping by for a meal too.