1 Westgate Street
London, E8 3RL
Followers of cult natural wine bar-cum-outpost of cave bistronomie, P Franco, will not be surprised to hear Bright talked of in such elevated tones. Nor would they be surprised to learn that Bright does not own a kettle, given the success of P Franco was built on the back of 2 induction hobs and a kitchen not big enough to swing a katsu sando.
“What kind of food is it?”, my eager young friends asked. As it turned out, the 15 minute walk up from Paradise Row was not long enough to find the words to describe the type of food on offer at Bright, William Gleave & Giuseppe Belvedere’s latest wine bar and restaurant on the edge of London Fields. The type of stripped back, casual dining that eschews categories, themes and gimmicks and serves up delicious plates of sharing (obviously) food is the kind of place one dreams of having just a short walk from their front door.
Speaking of which, our first dish arrived, the quartered, crustless white bread evoking memories of cling-filmed packed lunches and match teas, with just an ominous globule of mustard hinting that all was not as it seemed. And indeed it wasn’t – succulent chicken coated in crisp panko breadcrumbs, topped with crunchy cabbage, enveloped in a pillowy plain white, soft medium machine-sliced Kingsmill loaf, holding everything together and soaking up the robust flavours of the sauerkraut, mustard and the hot juices of the meat.
The rest of the carb-heavy snack plates comprised a pizza fritta (an intimidating UFO-shaped ball of dough with tomato, yoghurt and cheese bubbling up from inside the mothership, sat atop a milkyway of grated cheese and black pepper), fried cheddar pastry (several mini cheesy pastry puffs dusted in yet more silky strands of the gooey grated stuff) and aged beef sobrasado (a delicious smoky paprika-spiked cured sausage native to the Balearic Islands (will this be to 2019 what Nduja was to 2017?) on toast, scattered with a generous handful of chives.
The mussels, smoked mackerel broth and curry leaves were delicious, albeit not necessarily the most sharer-friendly dish with duelling spoons clanking together to get hold of the sweet, plump, orange bivales, refreshing slithers of kohlrabi and the smoky, fishy broth. Thoughts of passing over the pasta course were thankfully ignored as the arroz negro proved to be the star of the show, confidently announcing itself as merely “black rice” without a care in the world for the glistening, peppery parsley oil or the perfectly just cooked squid rolling around on its murky seabed of paella rice, steeped in rich, savoury squid ink, with just a hint of heat.
The persimmon, green mandarin & coffee dessert was a revelation, as was the bill which for our table of 5 (no booze) worked out just shy of £30 a head – you shouldn’t be able to tap for food this good! The décor was clean and simple yet surprisingly cosy given the high ceilings and warehouse windows, the clientele was eclectic (in a hipsterish sort of way) and the crockery from Lazy Eye ceramics – stunning, ensuring the camera always ate first.
The mains were simply conceived but masterfully executed, the turbot served on the bone was delicious, served (as is best) skin-on, albeit it could have benefited from a little more acidity to cut through the rich, brackish cider butter in which this king of fish now swam. The pork was a little on the fatty side, although incredibly tasty, perfectly seasoned and proving a natural bed fellow for the sharp dollop of quince preserve and pickled green peppers which accompanied it. The whole dover sole was small but well cooked and reasonably priced at just £13.
Staff were relaxed and Antipodean as well as fastidious and knowledgeable, crouched over tables in dungarees and baseball caps, taking customers through the menus like starry-eyed architects revealing their plans for a shiny, new skyscraper. I’m told menus change frequently and with an enviable location next to Mare Street Market, two large flexible work spaces and the thronging hordes of sausage-dog wielding millennials who descend on Broadway Market each Saturday, this place is set to be a hit.
Words: Nicholas Diamond-Krendel