6 August, 2015
Eat & Drink

Brick Lane – We try out the new cocktail pairing menu!

6 August, 2015

The new cocktail menu at this British inspired restaurant is perfect for munching on as you take in the sea-view!

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The Sassy team has actually been to Brick Lane before (see our Brick Lane review here), but as we can’t get enough of the good stuff, we had to go back again to try their new menu. We headed over to their space in Citic Tower after work and the relaxed, spacious dining area instantly put us at ease.

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It’s definitely a change from our slightly cramped and violently pink office, with a muted colour palette, artfully exposed back wall and quirky bicycle decor. Of course, there was also some fantastic blackboard art of Brick Lane in London as well. As it was one of the rare nice days that we get in the ‘Kong, we managed to score a table on their beautiful terrace which I’d definitely recommend doing.

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Brick Lane’s all about serving up those British classics with enough of a spin to keep things interesting, yet familiar enough to keep the less adventurous foodies happy. We kicked everything off with some sharing plates and, as is the nature of any post-work chow down, everything was gone within a few minutes. The Scallop Mango Salad was first and was a real contender with the warm, standout spiced scallop paired perfectly with the fresh mango – with the blue skies and sunshine, it was the epitome of a summer salad.

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The Hot Wings were amazing as well, if not a little messy to eat (Simran spent the majority of the meal laughing at how I had tried to dissect them with a knife and fork). They were a little sweeter than regular buffalo wings with a surprising yet welcome crunch. When the Vegetarian Croque Madam appeared, even the meat eaters at the table eyed the cheesy concoction with envy and each bite was a magnificent one; bursting with flavour and soft, warm pumpkin slices (there’s something about hot cheese and bread which never goes wrong).

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We moved on to the dinner mains and everything came out in a super short space of time, which was pretty overwhelming in the best of ways. The Spaghetti Vongole was definitely a great one to start with, tossed with buttery pesto and a generous helping of seafood to merit the name, and tasted amazing with a good glass of white wine. There were quite a few pasta dishes that came out including the Homemade Ravioli with Truffle Mushroom Filling in Lemongrass Infused Lobster Jus and a hearty Mac and Cheese – surprisingly, I wound up liking the Mac and Cheese a lot more for its uncomplicated and creamy texture. Simplicity’s sometimes best.

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Here’s where the veggies and meat eaters divided: I opted for the Slow Cooked Spring Chicken whereas others on our table opted for the Cauliflower Steak. If I hadn’t been so self-conscious, I would probably just have taken the entire plate of chicken and found a corner in the restaurant to sit in all by myself. Brick Lane isn’t messing around with that chicken; it was herby, gorgeously moist and definitely the main attraction. The girls had pretty similar feelings about the Cauliflower Steak, Brick Lane definitely knows their seasoning and everyone was left wondering how on earth we’d make it to dessert.

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We tried a couple of their new molecular cocktails, the bubbly Adam’s Dream and Mango Alexander. They’re definitely more on the sweet side – the bubbly rum Adam’s Dream came with a generous dollop of whipped cream which divided the table, but the very summery Mango Alexander was a definite hit with the striking combination of rosemary infused vodka and mango puree.

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And now onto the reason we were at Brick Lane: the new Dessert and Digestif cocktail pairings. The mixologists behind the bar have been pretty busy recently, coming up with the ultimate pairing menu to sate any sweet tooth. The table was a hubbub of activity as plates upon plates and vibrant cocktails appeared pair by pair. Naturally, at this point all the phones came out to a chorus of oohs and ahhs, much to the chagrin of fellow diners.

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We started off with a Delicate Lemon Tart and Espresso Martini, which definitely won points for the fun Jackson Pollock-esque presentation. Any lemon flavoured dessert is an instant comfort food staple for me, so I was delighted to find that the tart citrus taste wasn’t overpowered by the sweetness. The Espresso Martini really wasn’t what I was expecting however and was actually a little too sugary for me, so I couldn’t imagine ordering it again on its own. As a pairing however, they both balanced each other nicely.

Next came my personal favourite, the Victoria in a Jar and French 75. Brick Lane lived up to its cultural heritage happily with an adorable layered pot of Victoria Sponge that was a real crowd-pleaser. At this point, the rest of the table was having to pointedly ignore my loud yass-es as I dug my spoon straight in. They’re pretty big on their cream at Brick Lane if you haven’t figured it out already, and the sweet and sharp strawberry jam and fluffy sponge fused perfectly for that amazing homey traditional taste. We were also literally fighting over the French 75 which was the standout drink of the night for me – it tasted like a light peach Bellini with a crisper taste.

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After that was the Chocolate Trifle and Guinness Martini, which was when things started to get a little tense as we all waited for a chance to dig in. The trifle was exactly what I hoped it would be: thickly textured chocolatey goodness that rolls over your tongue with none of that cloying aftertaste. Pair that with the drier Guinness Martini (perfect for girls who aren’t sweet on sweetness, or who want to switch up from their regular beers) and you’ve got a winning combination.

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Now that we’d started steering away from the sugary cocktails, the desserts really started kicking it up a notch. The quintessential Apple Crumble was brought out with a mature Passion Negroni, complete with the obligatory dollop of vanilla ice cream. Brick Lane wasn’t out to break the mould here, sticking to the traditional cinnamon apple and vanilla combination and they did it well. The Negroni rounded out the sweetness of the dessert and stood up really well on its own as a great cocktail as well, which is exactly what we wanted to see more of.

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Of course, the darling of the cocktail pairing menu came last and literally every jaw dropped when it did. Brick Lane’s Sizzling S’mores and Honey Suckle cocktail was laid out on the table and it was literally a Pinterest dream – think rich melted chocolate topped with golden brown marshmallows. It comes with graham crackers at the side, which are really just a vehicle to get all the goodness in your mouth and I was all aboard the hype train for this one.

I’m a self-avowed marshmallow hater but even I couldn’t stop scooping up the dip; mind the pan though girls, our Sassy Girls learned from experience that the dish is hot as hell. We also snagged some savoury bites on the side and their to-die-for Scotch Eggs really hit the spot with a perfectly soft boiled eggy centre. The citrus Honey Suckle cocktail was an unexpected finish to the pairing and one that I honestly was a little indifferent to, though it would be hard for anything to stand beside the gooey chocolatey marshmallow goodness happening alongside it.

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Brick Lane’s staff are absolutely amazing and set out to make your meal a great one. It’s not easy serving a table of ten girls, but they paid careful attention to every single one of us with a smile – from helping move us and our heap of belongings from an indoor table to one on the terrace, to gauging exactly when we were ready to move on from course to course like magic.

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Brick Lane’s definitely a great place to head to for a casual meal and does British food better than a lot of places in the UK, even right down to the snack afterthoughts like their amazing Scotch Eggs. While the appetisers aren’t must-orders, the mains more than make up for that: the Spaghetti Vongole, Slow Cooked Spring Chicken and Mac and Cheese perfectly hit the spot if you’re looking for a great solid dinner after work. The new cocktail dessert pairing menu is a fun one and when I go back, I’ll happily give the Sizzling S’more dip and Victoria Sponge another go. If someone could sort out a litre of French 75 for me on my next visit, that would be great; just save a table on the terrace for me on a sunny afternoon, please.

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