Day-drinking has become not only acceptable but celebrated with Boozy Brunches popping up left, right and centre all over London. Whilst most offer the expected and easily top-up-able Prosecco or Bloody Mary’s, Paradise Garage – in collaboration with Ketel One Vodka and London Food Month – has gone a different route with a carefully crafted selection of cocktails. Sated ventured down to its favourite little street in Bethnal Green to find out what was what.
Housed in one of the railway arches on the bustling, foodie retreat of Paradise Row, sits Paradise Garage – the third restaurant by Irish chef, Robin Gill (The Dairy, and The Manor in Clapham). It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon so Sager + Wilde and Mother Kelly’s joint terraces are full of the new locals quenching their thirsts for fine wine, craft beer and social interaction. As we approach the open fronted venue, we notice that the usual arrangement of small tables have been pushed together to create two long sharing tables, which have been strewn with menus. Eager to discover what our brunch will consist of, we pick them up and are rewarded with an intriguing selection of drinks and an equally as exciting set of dishes.
We take our seats near the open doors to maximise sun exposure and people-watching potential, and are welcomed with an Ice T cocktail containing Ketel One vodka, peach, bourbon & house ice tea. Refreshing and sweet, it is a wonderful way to start a slow dining Summer experience. However, what we really want to know is how Paradise Garage’s Bloody Mary’s stack up, so we place our order with an attentive waitress and natter away until they arrive in their unfussy glory. Garnished only with a slice of lemon and with negligible spice or pepper, they are unusually light for Bloodys but not at all bad! The tomato juice tastes fresh, the temperature is just right, and the Ketel One as smooth as ever.
Whilst we’re debating the cocktails’ various merits, a collection of sharing plates, presented in gorgeously weighty stone dishware, are placed along the table. Amongst their number is a tender slice of beef tongue, served on a slice of toasted brioche with wholegrain mustard and pimento relishes. Texturally playful and full of beautifully complementary flavours, this moreish little bite is a true delight. Other favourites include a serving of lightly herbed, Jersey royal potatoes accompanied by an exquisitely creamy Baron Bigod Brie mousse, and lightly crumbed cod croquettes with nori mustard. The starters are wolfed down in an instant before we have a chance to try everything – we must stop getting distracted by Instagram and up our grabbing game when it comes to communal courses – but they have sufficiently whet our appetite for what is to come.
In the interim whilst our dishes are cleared and the table reset, we “cleanse our palate” with another of Ketel One’s cocktail offerings. This time, we choose Paddington’s Paradise, which resembles a wine spritzer but that contains Ketel One, the gloriously fragrant Chase Marmalade vodka, and grapefruit, topped with a bit of fizz. Delicately bitter and delightfully suited to the weather, this is definitely our favourite cocktail available today.
The main course arrives as individually served plates of medium-rare Dexter bavette steak, with a slice of smoked potato gratin and a soft-yolked fried egg. These are supplemented with extra sharing sides of Shakshuka (you can never have enough eggs), steamed kale and lightly charred cabbage, giving the dining experience a sociable and informal charm. The beef is daintily sliced and of a perfect pink complexion; the layers of the potato gratin remain soft and moist whilst the outside is lightly crispy; and the Shakushuka lends its rich sauce to the dish, combining with the runny egg and al dente greens to round off a balanced and fulfilling course.
Sadly, there is no dessert – not entirely unusual of a brunch – but the refined cocktails have enough sweetness and fruit to them to make us feel like they complete the offering. For those of you who missed the event, have no fear. Ketel One will be launching a series of Dutch Brunches at Paradise Garage throughout London Food Month. Scroll down to the listings section of our London Food Month post to find out details.