We were invited down this past weekend to sample some veggie food and cocktails at Brick & Liquor, a relatively new venue in Tooting. It opened in October 2016 under the management of David Layton, who has 12 years of experience in running venues across London.
Tooting Broadway is a bit of an up-and-coming area. Right now, it has a very curious mix of run-down, crumbling old businesses alongside brand new bars and pubs. It’s a fair stretch from the station to the venue, on a road that takes you by hair extension shops and minority world food stores. But when you step inside Brick & Liquor, you might as well be in Manhattan. It’s such an odd juxtaposition that it might take you aback when you step outside again, only to remember where you really are.
There’s a bit of rustic/modern chic going on in the bar, with a lot of copper detailing, brick walls, and dark wood everywhere. Basically, we want to steal all of their furniture and put it in our living room – especially the light fittings.
Now, let’s talk about the cocktails. There is a very much full menu of different flavours and types, which are also displayed on a helpful chart to aid in your decision, based on which attributes you like the best.
I went for a mocktail because I’m a wimp, but the amount of coffee in the Mocha Martini (Espresso, milk, salted caramel & coco powder; £4) was enough to have me buzzing all the way to the tube. Not only that, but it was delicious – and disappeared rather quickly. The presentation of the cocktails shows that they take great pride in them, and it’s obvious why.
J had the Whey To Go (Chivas Regal whiskey, lemon juice, homemade whey milk, homemade salted caramel & cinnamon syrup; £8.50) and also thoroughly enjoyed it. If we had more time, we likely would have stayed for a couple more cocktails as they were just really good.
MUSHROOM & MOZZARELLA ARANCINI (V)Hand crumbed risotto croquettes, stuffed with mozzarella and portobello mushroom, served with a white truffle mayo – £6BRICK & LIQUOR VEGETARIAN PLATTER (V)Our must-try vegetarian scotch eggs, grilled halloumi and tomato skewers, all served with our home roasted focaccia, homemade houmous & smoked paprika mayo – £18
Apart from fries and bread, these are the only veggie options on the menu, but it is a small menu in general. They were served at the same time, but let’s start with the arancini.
There are 3 pieces on the small plate, served with more than enough truffle mayo to go around. The breadcrumbs on the outer layer are very salty, but in a way that is well balanced to the creamy interior. The taste of the mushrooms belies a good quality pick, and nothing is too overwhelming. Taken on its own the truffle mayo is far too strong; with the arancini dipped in, it’s perfect. The flavours are balanced and compliment one another just right. This is a top choice which I would heartily recommend.
Now to the veggie platter, which was our main event.
The skewers were just beautiful. Gorgeous, squeaky halloumi is paired with the most delicate and juicy tomatoes, just melting right off the skewer. I’m not always a fan of tomatoes and usually prefer to have them in a sauce, but this was divine. These tomatoes were the best part of the entire night, and the rich flavour of them was perfect. I feel ridiculous to wax lyrical about something as simple as a tomato, but these were masterfully done. The skewers are drizzled with quite a lot of oil which made them messy to eat – a little less might go a long way.
The platter, you may notice, is conspicuously lacking one of the items from the menu. The focaccia was not ready when we arrived, and we were told it would be over an hour before it was finished. That was disappointing – particularly as our food had been booked ahead. It’s not impressive to have a kitchen which has not finished prep work before the customers start to come in.
Still, it was replaced by two things: some tomatoes on the vine, which I was pleased with given how delicious they were, and a bowl of assorted elements. It was scattered with pomegranate seeds, which are annoyingly trendy and absolutely unnecessary, especially in a dish like this. There was crumbly feta, pieces of courgette and onion coated in a very spicy dressing, lettuce leaves, and various other things which were totally lost under the other flavours. Not my favourite part of the platter, but as it isn’t included on the menu normally, somewhat irrelevant.
The dressings were less impactful without the focaccia to dip them in; the houmous was largely inoffensive, without the lemon or garlic kick I would expect, though it was very smooth.
The scotch egg had a thick, crispy outer layer, with a soft and creamy herby layer on the inside. The egg at the centre was pretty perfect, with the yolk just solid. There’s not much you can do wrong with an egg, but this one was perfectly right.
There were many subtle flavours throughout the platter, and a few stronger ones that seemed almost out of place – particularly the spice. Overall, however, we enjoyed it. The food is excellent for sharing and for grazing over a drink.
Owner David has expressed ambitions to open more similar venues in the future, and it’s hard to imagine them not being successful. We’ll be looking out for more venues from him in the future, and would be happy to return to Brick & Liquor for cocktails and sharing plates any time soon.