The restaurant: Brother Marcus, 37-39, Camden Passage, London N1 8EA
The Brother Marcus trio started up a wicked all-day brunch spot in Balham back in 2016. In the space of three days, some handy DIY and IT skills and not much more, the founders, Alex, Arthur and Tasos, opened up to 45-minute queues down the street. In a flurry of supper clubs and success, two years later, they’ve opened a second joint in Islington. The twist? It serves dinner as well. Mediterranean sharing plates are divided into Earth, Sea, Land and Heaven, inspired by Tasos’ Cretan upbringing and family recipes. Order three plates each or a selection to try between you, because I promise you’ll want to try something for each section.
With its moody, deep blue exterior the restaurant tucks itself into Angel’s Camden Passage, while the inside is warm and wooden with elements of the industrial without being annoyingly edgy. A smattering of foliage clings to a grid on the wall and while the place echos the feel of the Balham restaurant, it also ebbs towards Wright Brothers in its interiors and penchant for seafood. Wednesday evening was busy, but it was the sort of place you felt you could stick around at, sipping cocktails and grazing on small plates.
With seafood to start, a thick purple octopus leg sprinkled with sausage crumb was planted on a dollop of Romesco sauce. The sausage crumb swayed us, and while this was on the burnt side, the hunks of octopus held a smokey and meaty flavour. Sea bream, served with lemon and herbs, was brilliantly fresh and fishy with no frills necessary.
Cool chunks of squash are topped with a nutty freekah grain beside a healthy dollop of sheep’s milk yoghurt. It’s a sweet, zesty dish with a few parsnips thrown in. Sticky date and Metaxa-glazed pork belly looks and tastes devilishly good with its upper crispy coating, an impeccably cooked layer of fat, and a tender piece of meat below. The thick and honeyed Greek yogurt with honey served beneath the pork was surplus but forgivable. A comforting, oily potato gnocchi sprinkled with lashings of feta was rich and indulgent. After a sweet assault of milk and honey, we passed up on the honey bomb dessert and ordered a sticky toffee pudding to share. Sweet, rich and warm, the pleasing pudding could’ve been boosted with a small daub of ice cream.
Everything on the menu is rich and satisfying, yet the dishes all remained brilliantly diverse, without anything feeling like a filler. The range in price from £7 to £18, allows you to spend a little or a lot, and still enjoy a rich mix of dishes. The cross-over of ingredients, seeing us through from starter to dessert, was part of the success in the small plates working well together. Brother Marcus does something special with small plates — and for once, they’re not too small.
What we ordered:
- Roast onion squash with sheep’s milk yoghurt, £7
- Potato gnocchi with grilled courgette and pine nuts, £8.50
- Grilled octopus with soutzouki sausage crumb, £18.50
- Grilled sea bream with lemon and herb oil, £16
- Pork belly with meta and date glaze, £11.50
- Sticky toffee and Metaxa pudding, £7
- Smoke and honey cocktail, £9
- Balkan whip cocktail, £9
- Bottle of Quinta Dos Espinhohos, £29
To book, visit BrotherMarcus.co.uk or call 020 7226 3535