1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8ARHey Foodwala Boys and Girls… hope you are all well
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“The dump outside a village tells tales about the villagers”(paraphrased)
“Paga valia da pind…roorya to pata lug jund da”
– Ali A. Aslam
It was a stifling hot and dusty summers afternoon in 1946, in the deepest darkest Punjab when out of the shimmering heat a caravan of Morris 8’s emerged alongside a truck carrying troops.
The cars carried Brigadier Smith Dun from the feared 14th Punjab Regiment and the local land administrator called the Zaildar and his underlings the Lumberdars.
Today was an important day, today was the day the Britishers were going to distribute the land that was not theirs to distribute. The male head of each family was called to the Panchayat and told to bring their best horse. The horse was then made to run for 5 minutes and where the horse stopped that was where the line was squared off and that would belong to that family.
On that fateful day, all the families got their tracts of land and much merriment was made, as the land would be the livelihood for many generations. One poor labourer who did not own a buffalo let alone a horse was left with nothing, while the other now Zamindars celebrated he looked on with despair until he could not take it any more and ran in front of the departing Brigadiers’ car, threatening to jump in front of the car and die.
Brigadier Dun asked why the Pagil dared to hold up the Kings” Brigadier and the labourer pleaded that he had five sons and no land…he was destitute, unusually Dun took pity and asked the Lumberdar if there was any land left, the Zaildars and Lumberdars consulted their plot book and eventually after some head scratching and beard scratching a tiny plot was found where the village threw away its rubbish, this was then given to the labourer.
The labourer then sold the plot to his neighbour and paid for passage for his oldest son to come to Glasgow to work…And from that, a multi-million-pound business empire was built.
This story was told by my dad saying luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
This week I was in the City of London and felt peckish, I was in the Bloomberg Building for some meetings so I ventured to the ground floor where Mr Bloomberg a huge foodie, had personally curated a group of restaurants.
The restaurant which caught my eye was Brigadiers, the sister restaurant of Gymkhana in Mayfair.
I tentatively ventured in, it was all rich wood panelling and burgundy Connolly leather, It recreated the Meat testosterone-filled officers’ mess halls in the British Raj. The position of the restaurant is ironic, as it is now in the 21st-century equivalent of a Meat-driven testosterone-filled International Bank in the City of London.
I kicked off the proceedings with an assortment of poppadoms and dips, the yellow yoghurt and tamarind dip was absolutely delicious.
The Afghani Kebab was unusual, the kebab has gone through the Pymallion paradox, The Afghani kebab is usually a crude meaty/fatty affair, however, the chefs at Brigadiers had made it all sophisticated and high class, and the skewer was steak meat and pieces of white fat interlaced with onion just to give it a delicious tasting note.
The Tandoori Lamb chops were Brigadier’s signature dish, plat de prédilection even, however, this is where the record screeches to a halt, the lamb chops were a little under-seasoned and overcooked, and the chops should have been slightly pink inside to enjoy the real meaty flavour. Wee a bit disappointed at the schoolboy error.
The Tawa prawn biryani was tasty, but not exceptional, maybe I did not manage my expectations or maybe the chefs were having a off day, but it was not executed as one would expect at Indian food at this level and price point.
I cannot figure out, if the Brigadier’s chefs were going for the Tahdig effect which is the crispy layer of rice at the base of the pan, which is super expert biryani cooking or was the rice burnt and clumpy due to the lack of proper mixing, this another schoolboy error.
A quick epilogue, this is the fanciest sinks I have come across in a restaurant.
Brigadiers is a meat-fueled testosterone-charged Raj verse restaurant in exactly the right location.
The Restaurant is from the stable of JKS restaurants, who are the trailblazers of a lot of the hottest restaurants in London at the moment.
However, I personally felt the food was excellent but at the price point and expectations was a slight miss
The price point was however quite expensive, approx £77 per head, so my expectation was heightened.
The Service was friendly and to the point.
The Star of the Meal?
The Star of the meal could have been the Tandoori Lamb Chops but was possibly the Afghani Kebab, well marinaded, delicious and with excellent execution.
The miss of the Meal?
The Tandoori Lamb Chops were the miss of the meal, they were overcooked.
Brigadiers are good but could have been exceptional, It has some amazing peers in the Michelin Indian food scene, particularly like Gymkhana and Jamavar in London, or Opheem in Birmingham.
The Lamb and Chicken are halal.
Pork and Alcohol are served on the Premises
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Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not accept free meals in return for reviews.