A hedonistic playground in the heart of the Square Mile, Brigadiers is far more than just a restaurant. The latest opening from JKS Restaurants (the siblings behind the likes of Trishna, Gymkhana and Hoppers) Brigadiers is a pleasure palace; a dynamic sports bar with a stellar food offering.
On the corner of the new Bloomberg Arcade, what’s instantly notable about the restaurant is the sheer size of the place. With space to accommodate up to 200 guests, the restaurant is split into a warren of rooms, inspired by the mess taverns frequented by Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi’s grandfather – a Brigadier in the Gurkha 4th rifles regiment. On either side of reception, Brigadiers has two main areas: The Dining Room and ‘Blighters’, a less formal bar space with cosy booth seating.
Three additional dining rooms are also on hand (one with a card table, naturally), as well as The Tap Room with its various beers served and The Pool Room with its blood red pool table, TV screens locked to Sky Sports and a whisky vending machine. The room’s most exciting fixture, though, it’s the fast-pour beer taps, filling the glass from the bottom. After hours of research, I’m still unsure of their exact technical logistics. Magic, perhaps?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its location, Brigadiers is almost as unapologetically masculine as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. But hate it or love it, the concept will be a roaring success with the city’s merchant bankers, equidistant from Bank, Cannon Street and Mansion House stations. If you can manage to overlook the fact that hell is other people – if only for an hour or two – you’ll find that the food served here is mostly brilliant, offering a menu which champions Indian barbecue food.
Like Brigadiers, the menu is vast, split into various sections. While struggling to decide on an acceptable amount of dishes to order – making tactical decisions like an intense NBA draft – we ordered the brittle masala chicken skins (£5), capped with heaps of subtle lime pickle (drinking food of the highest order) and a round of beers. The Tropical Cyclone IPA is exclusive to Brigadiers, brewed in collaboration with Harbour Brewing in Cornwall – imparting bold mango and tropical fruit savours alongside refreshing bitterness.
Bite-sized cocktail samosas were packed with slow-cooked ox cheek vindaloo (£8.50). Although the expected whack of chilli didn’t quite prevail, the shredded cheek meat (infinitely more flavoursome that any of the cow’s other cuts) provided agreeable textural contrast with the crispy outer, convoyed by a gossamer dish of sauce rife with tomato. BBQ butter chicken wings (£8) were equally comforting, slathered with ghee and cashew cream, also harbouring an underlying sweet, smoky flavour. Brigadiers’ beef chuck and bone marrow keema (£10) was, by far, one of the best things eaten at lunch. Rich, deftly spiced chuck steak mince was flecked with peas, offset by slippery bone marrow and a soft-boiled egg. The accompanying chilli cheese kulcha wasn’t as pillowy as desired, yet worked as an ideal receptacle for soaking up the last of the well-flavoured beef mince.
A main of bhuna ghee goat chops (£20) wasn’t a particularly pretty dish, but remarkably executed. With flavour far more intense than lamb, the goat chops were properly cooked, imparting plenty of earthy flavour, lashed with equally eminent sauce rampant with cardamom, fenugreek and shredded ginger. After mopping the sauce with bread from the supplementary bread basket (£7), the chops demand to be taken in hand to relinquish every last morsel of meat from the bone. To finish, the menu offers a selection of soft-serve ice cream sundaes. Banana and yoghurt kulfi had the air of a classic banana split, albeit embellished with fennel seed butter scotch and sweet pickled bananas.
Brigadiers’ energetic ‘sports bar’ atmosphere won’t be for everyone, though the food is predictably satisfying. Visit at lunch – or on the weekend when the bilious bankers have absconded back to Kent, Essex or Surrey – and relish what’s, unquestionably, some of the square mile’s most innovatively rousing cooking.
Brigadiers can be found at 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR.