Though the variety and quality of eating options in the square mile has improved beyond recognition in recent years, Brigadiers is one of only a handful of restaurants to have generated, real, palpable buzz in the City. Located in the Bloomberg Arcade development – already home to the likes of Koya, Caravan and Soren Jessen’s Ekte – JKS Restaurant’s latest will pull in people from across London despite having been tailored for an area over indexing on pinstriped bonus celebrators.
Brigadiers is a huge, complicated restaurant executed with Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi’s trademark military precision. Not for nothing did the siblings – who operate Indian restaurants Trishna, Gymkhana and Hoppers alongside several equally high-rated venues run in partnership with others – last month take home Restaurateur of the Year at our own Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards.
It comprises seven different zones that include a restaurant, a bar, a pool room, a taproom and three PDRs totalling 6,000sq ft and is billed as a booze-led restaurant with a focus on live sport. Football matches may play on big screen TVs, but the look and feel of the place is as far away from a Rileys or a Walkabout as one could imagine.
The Sethis and designers Brady Williams have done an impressive job of turning what is ostensibly a giant glass box into a characterful warren of rooms. The look is described as art deco; a mix of deep reds, dark woods and bronze that references the gentlemen’s clubs of the Raj. The capacity at Brigadiers is well in excess of 200. With this in mind, the Sethis have allocated 1,000sq ft to the kitchen, resulting in a space that is bigger than those of Gymkhana, Trishna and the two Hoppers restaurants put together.
Stylistically, the food is most similar to Gymkhana, but the menu is more expansive and flexible. The cooking style is what Karam – who oversees the food side of the business – refers to as ‘chatpata’, which roughly translates as ‘on point’, meaning the spicing and sourness are just right. Taking up a whole side of A3, the menu is brasserie-style with sections including beer snacks and bitings; chhota chatpata (punchy small plates); bread-based items; sizzlers and kebabs; steak, ribs and chops; and rotisserie and wood oven cooked items.
Brigadier's original BBQ butter chicken wings
Must-order dishes include the original BBQ butter chicken wings; cocktail ox cheek vindaloo samosas; and the mixed sizzle platter for two, a still smoking pile of kebabs, chops and grilled shellfish. Desserts consist of a choice of four soft serve ice creams, including banana and yoghurt kulfi, and chocolate and coconut kulfi.
As is typical at JKS Restaurants, the pricing is flexible. À la carte has the potential to be pricey, but there are deals to be had. These include a business lunch (£20/£25 two/three courses) and a generous feasting menu made up of four waves of dishes for £50 per person. There are also ‘Beast Feasts’ (minimum of six people) that comprises a selection of snacks and either suckling lamb biryani (£65 per person) or wood-roasted Goan suckling pig (£70 per person).
Alcohol is at the forefront of the restaurant (Karam expects the split between wet and dry sales to be 50:50 rather than the traditional 30:70). The selection is beer and whisky-led but other categories aren’t neglected with a large and well-thought-out wine and cocktail offering.
There are two house beers (a Brigadiers lager brewed by Kingfisher and the 4th Rifles, a collaboration between JKS and Derbyshire-based Thornbridge). Other keg beers are well chosen, striking a good balance between interesting and approachable (highlights include dry and bitter Denmark beer Raspvery and Printemps Saison – brewed by Burning Sky in East Sussex).
The Tap Room at Brigadiers
Speed of delivery is key. The restaurant’s whisky and soda-based cocktails are carbonated and bottled in-house and there are two dispensed cocktails (Nitro Martinis and hand-pulled Old Fashioneds). And then there’s its Bottoms Up beer dispensing system for private bookings which, as the name suggests, sees glasses filled from the bottom for a sub six-second pour.
The Sethis have once again spiced up the Indian restaurant market with a new venture that manages to be a close fit for City types while still appealing to those coming from further afield.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, City
On the menu
Original BBQ butter chicken wings £8
Indo Chinese chilli chicken lettuce cups £7.50
Amritsari fried fish paos £9
Bhuna ghee masala goat chops,
wood oven ghee rotis £20
Wood-roasted curry leaf masala
turbot, samphire thoran £38.50
Wild mushroom biryani £18
Brigadiers house dal £5
Aubergine raita £3
Chocolate and coconut kulfi soft serve £7.50