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The Brookmill

Deptford Rising:
Pies and Elizabethan Intrigue

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“Christopher. The other name is unsure. Marlin, Merlin, Marley, Morley. Marlowe will do”
— Anthony Burgess,
A Dead Man in Deptford (1993)

The playwright Christopher Marlowe, author of Doctor Faustus and contemporary of Shakespeare, was killed during a brawl in Eleanor Bull’s dining room on Deptford Strand as it was known in the 16th Century, now the northern riverside end of Deptford High Street.

The exact details and reasons are unclear, but the mystery and myths surrounding the whole episode are beguilingly explored in Anthony Burgess’s novel. The most intriguing theory suggests the episode was an elaborate hoax, allowing him to escape the country amid charges of atheism and treason (he was out on bail at the time), while he continued to write and publish under the name of a certain William Shakespeare – a delicious and tantalising theory.

Olly Marlowe, Executive Chef of Cityglen Pub Company (formerly of Chez Bruce and The Glasshouse) is the current Marlowe in town, overseeing the menu at The Brookmill pub, two minutes from St Johns station, where grittier Deptford proper becomes genteel St Johns (constructed as Deptford New Town in the late 19th Century), and where two bedroom terraced Victorian houses on Strickland Street go for £600,000. Prices have rocketed in recent years. Desirable Deptford.

Several early visits to The Brookmill have shown it to be one of the pace setters, with some assured cooking that also manages to fulfil its function as a neighbourhood pub, without teetering into navel gazing ‘try-hard gastro’ – quietly classy, is the tune that’s being played here.

A handful of visits, alongside a growing affection for Deptford and its history. Why so?

Read on...

This Week

A great first visit to Crouch Hill newcomer, Nickel. Worth the schlep up the hill from Finsbury Park, and greeted with a fine welcome of Chapel Down’s Curious Brew, the only draft beer (perfect), served in civilised 2/3 schooners: chilled to the very last sip. Tiny open kitchen. A plate of roast cod with romesco and sweet onions, ruddy good. Going back for the weekend lobster rolls.


Back down Crouch Hill to Max’s Sandwich Shop for a chinwag with the inimitable Max, and a perfectly messy, oozy, barnstorming sandwich: roast guinea fowl, pickled grape and tarragon salsa, baby gem, chicory, garlic croutons, anchovy mayo. Pepped up with an eye widening Jamaican Habañero pepper sauce.

Gnocco Fritto’ draped with Prosciutto (order, and order again), excellent spaghetti all’ Amatriciana, and ferocious Negronis for a mere £7.50: Highwayman Gin the distinctive player, hugely aromatic, made in a 16 litre pot copper still in Kentish Town. Stand and Deliver? Delivered a dangerous four times.
I've helped Blacklock (Big
Chops, Skinny Chops, Soho
basement) put together a little
list of wines for their new
blackboard. Friendly cash margins means great drinking without
spaffing over the odds. Chops on
a grill alongside some cracking
wines —

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,
Restless River
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

Cult Syrah 2013, BK Wines
Adelaide Hills, Australia

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,
Ridge Vineyards Sonoma, USA

Pinot Noir 'Laissez Faire' 2014, Cherubino Pemberton, Australia

Nero d'Avola 2013, Fox Gordon
Adelaide Hills, Australia

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Riesling 2012, Sybille Kuntz
Mosel, Germany

'Kortpad Kaptoe' 2014,
Blank Bottle Wellington, South Africa

Chardonnay 'Graviers' 2012, Stephane Tissot Arbois, France

Riesling 2013, Clos Clare
Watervale, Australia

'Toru' (Gewürztraminer/ Riesling/Pinot Gris) 2013,
Te Whare Ra
Marlborough, New Zealand


Turkish manti dumplings, say what? The history of manti is rich and stretches back centuries, and while you can find them in choice spots in London like Hala and Manti (fancy that) in Green Lanes, North London, as well as Alan Yau’s Babaji Pide Salonu, they are still somewhat of an undiscovered dish for many. Versions are seen across Central Asia, Russia, Northern China and post-Soviet countries, the horsemen of the Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries helping spread their popularity. The Turkish version is boiled and topped with garlicky yoghurt, sumac and mint. Yosma’s manti dish, the new mangal and raki bar on Baker Street, is an absolute belter, stuffed with slow braised lamb neck (scrag and middle neck), one of the highlights of an early kitchen run-through. I suggest ordering at least two portions. Each. Manti for the masses.  

"Bloody tasting notes. The infuriating, bombastic, ridiculous tasting note, sitting there all smug and chuffed with itself – “look at me, aren’t I clever”, it seems to chime. Cocky little bugger."

Noble Rot
Issue N10
Read the article

As Sideways opens on the stage in London, Zeren Wilson reminisces of his time spent in the vineyards of California.

CODE Quarterly
Issue 7
Read the article

“Wild chimps caught boozing on 7% ABV ‘wine’”, shrieked the headline in The Guardian last year. As headlines go, that’s a corker.

Noble Rot
Issue N10
Read the article

“It’s likely that the thunderbolt wine revelation usually comes courtesy of a restaurant, via a well chosen list, a savvy sommelier, a beautiful plate of food, and the perfect alchemy of a night out.”

Once you’ve had a taste of the good stuff, "it's hard to go back”. Here he explores the vinous Holy Grail. Corkscrews at the ready.

CODE Quarterly
Issue 6
Read the article

Everyone knows the wines of Napa and Sonoma, but some of California’s lesser-known wine regions are producing vintages that are equally appealing...

Christie's Magazine
February 2016
Read the article
Wine is good for you

"A meal without wine is unthinkable for some. Being in a restaurant sober and not witnessing the cut and thrust of the dining room; missing that moment when the volume seems to ‘pop’, usually around 9pm, would make me consider why I was there at all...

Hoi Polloi
Read the article

Zeren Wilson ponders the often-snubbed ‘house wine’ and assures us that frugal drinking in London is better than it has been before.

“Monsieur, with this House Ferrero Rocher Wine, you are really spoiling us...”. Or something like that...

CODE Quarterly
Issue 5
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The Menu Fetishist Returns

“Here’s our menu, let me know if you have any questions...” The phrase that launched a thousand meals. You read, you choose, you ask, they bring: no titillation here, nothing to see, please move along. You’re a menu fetishist? You sick bastard...

Noble Rot
Issue N8
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Wine List Man vs Inverted Snob

Do you really know about wine? Or is all your swaggering braggadocio about to be mercilessly skewered by the secret wine buff in your midst?

Noble Rot
Issue 6
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Written Welcome
to K–Town

There’s something in the air and it’s Korean flavoured. Zeren Wilson finds out why Korean cuisine is the food of the moment

May 2015
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Written Blue

Spring; The menu bristles with the confidence that means no frilly language, just laconic listings of ingredients with the odd nod to a cooking technique here or there:

Completely London
Spring 2015
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Written Thai Lords

Thai cuisine is on
the verge of a re-appraisal in the UK, with new restaurants cooking regional dishes that really highlight the depth and diversity of the food. Zeren Wilson reports

Caterer & Hotelkeeper,
February 2014
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Written Lambrusco

Having fallen from grace, Lambrusco is now making a comeback in its traditional form as a deep, dry,
sparkling wine from Emilia Romagna. Zeren Wilson hails the return of this once–derided drop.

Christie’s Magazine,
October 2014
Read the article
Written California

The wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County are back in the frame, their characteristic exuberance tempered with the restraint that first wowed the world in 1976. Zeren Wilson, reports

Christie’s Magazine,
November 2014
Read the article
Written What to drink with a kebab

– And it's not lager.

Inspired by the recent British Kebab awards Zeren Wilson wonders what the perfect wine pairing is for a kebab and comes up with some surprising conclusions.

Matching Food & Wine
August 2014
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Trevibban Mill Vineyard and Orchards are situated on the slopes of the Issey Brook near Padstow, Cornwall. As Cornwall’s first organic viticulture business, they are also only the second wine producer in the UK to be recognised by the International Organic Wine Awards. Liz and Engin Mumcuoglu bought the land in 2007, produced their first wine in 2011, and finally opened the doors to the public in 2015 for tastings and vineyard tours. ‘Black Ewe’ is 100% Reichensteiner, a whispery wraith of a white, ghosting across the palate with delicate grapefruit/lime zest notes: fine boned, lacy, featherweight quencher. Appleton’s at The Vineyard is the recent restaurant addition headed by chef Andy Appleton – fennel pollen raviolini of Padstow crab (spotted on their Instagram) would get along fine with this wine.
Wine of the week

‘Black Ewe’ Single Vineyard 2013, Trevibban Mill, Cornwall, England


The Brookmill

The handsomely re-furbished Brookmill pub is already doing a great job of ticking off the 'ideal neighbourhood pub’ boxes:

1: Sausage Rolls (excellent, still warm if you’re lucky)

2: Scotch Eggs (great sausage meat, oozy yolk, warm if you time it right)

3: Bombay Mix (bar snack epiphany)

Head Chef Olly Marlowe has had stints at Wandsworth’s Chez Bruce (a true gem), and The Glasshouse in Kew. A couple of early visits have revealed some confident, assured cooking. An excellent pork chop with creamed potato and burnt apple purée; confit lamb breast, salsa verde, white turnips and meat juices.

4: Gratin Dauphinoise Pie, onion purée and charred lettuce (yes, coming back for more)

Deptford/St Johns (SE8), has never had it so good.

When news gets out that two of the mainstays of the estimable Terroirs group are striking out on their own, ears prick up and a flurry of bookings are made by many of those tracking the current fervid London restaurant landscape: ballsy, gutsy cooking with no faff or fanfare is the rich seam that has run through the Terroirs DNA since they opened in 2009. Oli Barker and Head Chef Pascal Wiedemann bring a welcome robust smack in the chops to genteel and monied Holland Park, a neighbourhood which, apart from the pristine Lidgate’s butcher, has historically had little reason to drag anyone to W11 for anything food related. One lunch is enough to convince:

Pork & Pistachio terrine – (£8) – Memories of the excellent terrines at Terroirs. Jammed with lardo, chicken livers, and other goodness. Textbook terrine. “A master of the country terrine”, according to Chef David Gingell of Primeur.

Devilled Egg, anchovies, mâche salad (£7.50)  – Keep these coming all day on a conveyor belt. Punchy Cantabrian anchovies starring.

Squid, brandade & piment d’Espelette (£10.50) – Curls of silkily tender squid, creamiest salt cod brandade beneath. Yes.

  Quail, white polenta, gremolata (£9.50) – Plump and bronzed, we chase white polenta round the plate, mopping and sucking it from chunks of crisped quail. 

  Pork chop, Jersey Royals, wild garlic, sauce charcutière (£17.50) – Unimpeachable chop, with a deeply flavoured, gorgeously rendered ribbon of fat. Quite indecent, quite wonderful.

Tiny and cosy, it has a ‘skiving off work lunch' written all over it. I’ll be on a table beside the kitchen.