As someone who is based in East London, Croydon, along with many other outer realms south of the River Thames, has always seemed like a distant land of folklore and mythology. Not least because generations of London Underground engineers seem to have covered every patch of London, before getting to the southern banks of the river, running out of kitkats and shouting “I can’t be bloody bothered anymore!”.
Whatever the reason for South London being condemned to a lifetime of national rail and overground services, it certainly gave me little incentive to travel to its territories. That all changed however, when Yumn Brasserie began appearing on my food radar. Never have I, nor anyone else in human history, tried so hard to seek out a reason, any reason, to make a trip to Croydon. The opportunity to do so arose last month, when Steak graduated as a fully-fledged psychologist. With the good news that I now have a free therapist to plug the holes in the sinking ship that is my mental stability, I decided it was time to pay Yumn Brasserie a much awaited visit to celebrate.
Note: All the meat here is halal. Alcohol is served.
Yumn Brasserie offers an extensive range of European and fusion dishes, and almost everything on the menu sounds like a glorious meal in the making. Whilst it was initially the steaks and the burgers that reeled me towards Yumn Brasserie, the braised ribs stole my attention once I was in the chair, whilst Steak opted for the “Josper mixed fusion grill”.
First to arrive to the table was a complementary basket of bread, alongside a small bowl of butter. Normally, a basket of bread is a pleasantly unexciting entrance to a meal. A sort of chew toy to throw to your mouth to keep it entertained before the real deal comes along. However, on this occasion, it was, dare I say it, almost as exciting as the meal itself. The bread was fresh, of a high quality, and possessed a wonderful homemade feel.
One piece, bearing a strange orange tinge similar to that observed on an inhabitant of Essex, was infused with tomato, and possessed a wonderfully subtle, mild flavour which escaped out of the bread with each bite. The other piece, a staunch white, seemed to be plain, but therein lied its deceit. It was in fact, infused with garlic, and possessed a very strong flavour which combined well with the butter. Both pieces of bread were served warm, and possessed a beautifully thick and soft core, surrounded by a contrastingly firm, crispy crust. Ladies and gentlemen, never before has a basket of bread earned itself an entire paragraph in a review.
Our mains arrived shortly afterwards, and the braised ribs came as a troop of three, lying on a bed of “baby onion, mushroom and horseradish creamed pommes puree”, (otherwise known in english as “mash potato”), surrounded by a rich, thick gravy and a handful of raisins. The ribs were of an exceedingly high quality, bearing tender, medium-cooked beef, which literally fell off the bone if you so much as blew onto the plate. Each rib carried a deep, inherent flavour, and was accompanied by a good amount of fat that melted as soon as it entered the mouth.
Meanwhile, the bed of “pommes puree” was wonderfully thick and creamy, and delivered a subtle flavour from its fusion with horseradish, baby onions and mushrooms. The moat of gravy which encircled the entire dish was very much the icing on the cake, bursting with flavour and delivering a pleasant, rich sweetness to both the potato puree and the beef. Together, all three components provided a complementary set of flavours and textures that delivered satisfaction with each and every bite.
Steak’s josper mixed grill consisted of two lamb cutlets, two pieces of lamb tikka and two pieces of chicken tikka breast, accompanied by sautéed onions, peppers, grilled lime, garlic aioli dip, and chips. Every single piece of meat was of a high quality, with the lamb being the star of the show. The chunks of lamb tikka were very tender, well-cooked, and carried a wonderful fullness in their spicy flavour. The lamb chops were also very soft and succulent, and possessed a strong essence of coriander, whilst the dry but flavoursome tandoori breast proved to be the only weakness of the grill.
As our empty plates were taken away, and our banana tatin dessert arrived, (served with a small helping of peanut butter ice cream and a cup of cocoa), I knew that there was a very real risk of the fire brigade being summoned to cut me out of my cosy chair. The tatin was served hot, and filled with a soft centre of ripe, caramelised banana pieces, surrounded by the sticky, crispy texture of its outer skin. The warmth of the tatin, as well as its strong banana flavour, contrasted well with the cool and rich peanut butter ice cream. This, in turn, contrasted well with the dark bitterness of the accompanying cocoa, which provided a pleasant palate-cleansing action between each bite. It was however, served lukewarm, and a slightly hotter cup might have been even more satisfying.
Last week saw my return to Yumn Brasserie – this time, with “We Are Bartans”, for a much-deserved end-of-term meal. On this occasion, I ordered a 225g (8oz), 28-day-aged sirloin steak, cooked to medium-rare and served with a bearnaise sauce. Though it arrived medium instead of medium-rare, the high quality of the beef was evident in its extremely soft and tender texture. Each incision revealed a centre that was full of moisture, and the steak’s inherent juices flowed out onto the plate. The beef carried a deep flavour, and overall, the steak was well-seasoned, delivering a slight touch of salt to the tongue with each bite. The fat was also incredibly well-cooked, with a soft and slightly crispy texture that melted instantly within the mouth.
All in all, it was a positive second experience. Scores will remain the same however, as consistency seems to require a little more work.
Value For Money: 4/5
My braised ribs cost £15.95 (the beef ribs I ate, not my own ribs. My ribs aren’t for sale), whilst Steak’s josper grill cost £15.50, and the banana tatin cost £6.50. Generally, starters range from £3-£7, mains range from £9 for a burger to £40 for lobster dishes, (though the majority of main courses cost between £14-£16), whilst desserts will cost you around £5-£9.
Considering the fine-dining setting of the restaurant, the exemplary dining environment and the heartily generous portions, Yumn Brasserie is worth every decibel your accountant uses to scream his lungs out at you. Prices are in fact no more expensive than a mid-range restaurant in London, and this is certainly an establishment that is beyond the mid-range mark. There are only a handful of fine-dining restaurants in London that won’t leave you clutching your wallet in mourning and clutching your stomach in hunger, and this is certainly one of them.
Staff at Yumn Brasserie are wonderfully friendly, welcoming, and attentive, just as you’d expect at a high-end establishment. Our waitress tended to us as soon as we walked into the restaurant, and right up until we walked out of the door, even being so kind as to walk us out herself. Service is also very prompt and efficient.
Yumn Brasserie hosts a stunning modern decor that is nothing short of spectacular. Its beauty lies very much in its chaos, with a completely random mishmash of comfortable, two-tone patterned chairs of various colours, light brown booths, wooden tables, modern light and wall fixtures, hanging frames and a variety of shrubbery and ornaments placed throughout the restaurant. Separate groups of matching furniture can be found in each segment of the restaurant, and despite the apparent randomness, each and every pattern, colour and fabric integrates seamlessly and effortlessly, as though somehow they were meant to be together. It certainly takes a special kind of eye to be able to integrate so many contrasting elements in such a way, and for that, Yumn’s interior designer deserves some respect.
Yumn Brasserie’s decor then, is very much like my mind. An organised jumble of completely random elements which shouldn’t make sense, let alone work, but somehow, it does, and very well at that. (Even if I do say so myself). The restaurant is a quick ten-minute bus ride from South Croydon station, or a slightly longer bus ride from either West Croydon or East Croydon stations. If you’re travelling from the north side of the river, none of these stations are ideal to get to, but believe me, it’s well worth the hassle. Travelling by car should prove much easier, with a number of car parks littered around the area.
As is the Steak and Teeth way, we somehow managed to visit the restaurant when it was completely empty. Or maybe it took so long to travel to Croydon that everyone who was in the restaurant had already had lunch, lived life, grown old and died. Despite it being fairly silent in the restaurant aside from the background music, the ambience was fairly relaxing and peaceful. Whilst it’s probably more exciting during the hubbub of dinner time (which seems to be the main focus of the restaurant), I think I’d prefer the calm quiet we encountered at lunch hours. It certainly makes for a soothing dining experience. (That is, when the contents of your stomach aren’t trying to turn you into an explosive hazard to the public at the end of your final course).
“Yumn”. For months, I had no idea why Yumn Brasserie was named as it was, but now, I reckon I have a fairly good idea. At the end of a satisfying meal in this brasserie’s beautiful surroundings, you are likely to slump forward onto the table and garble in pure gibberish how “yumn” your meal was, as you slowly enter a nonsensical coma of satisfaction and an ambulance has to be called to wheel you out before you begin dribbling all over the nice clean tables.
Yumn Brasserie is an impeccable example of a modern, affordable, fine dining establishment serving halal European cuisine, and with such an extensive range of high quality dishes on offer, there’s no question as to whether Yumn Brasserie is a must-visit establishment. I can certainly say with confidence, that I will be returning soon to what is a delightful restaurant in the delightful borough of Croydon. And frankly, that’s a sentence that would never before have crossed my mind.
Originally published: 08/08/15
Address: 69-71 Southend Street, Croydon CR0 1BF
Telephone: 0208 681 2336