A night at Den of Bracca, Bracknell — [AD]

I have always loved looking at restaurant menus. I am straight on a restaurant’s website looking at a menu as soon as the booking is made, even if it is weeks in advance. Daily specials when we arrive pass me by because I made my decision a fortnight before, and I make no apology for that. I love planning what I am going to be eating and I didn’t realise how much I loved doing this until the pandemic took all opportunities to eat out away and as the roadmap was talked about, and our route out lockdown started becoming reality, I began to think about what I had missed most about lockdown and how quickly I could get back to eating out in restaurants again. Who knew that the simple act of being able to choose food would be up there with the things we missed most then?

When Den of Bracca asked if we would like to come and see the steps they have put in place to keep customers safe as they reopened for outdoor dining, we jumped at the chance. And straight on the website to look at the menu. Or should I say menu plural. You see they not only have a fabulous takeaway menu still, but they have a bottomless brunch menu, (£39 per person, unlimited Prosecco and any breakfast item, burger or wok selection, every Saturday. Er Hello), breakfast, their main menu and a cocktail menu to rival any bar. Where to begin?

Well, at the beginning I guess, and the owners are interested in the origin of the name of Bracknell. Whilst researching the history of the town they found that the Scandinavia Atoman — Brakka — stayed in the town. And confirmation that the Scandinavians were here is the name of the days of the week, honouring the Scandinavian gods .

The name Bracknell is first recorded in a Winkfield Boundary Charter of AD 942 as Braccan heal, and may mean “Nook of land belonging to a man called Bracca“, from the Old English Braccan (genitive singular of a personal name) + heal, healh (a corner, nook or secret place).

The owners are keen to convey this story, and are doing so by way of daily comic stories which are available in the restaurant. What a great way of teaching a bit of history!

This isn’t part of a chain, run from a head office hundreds of miles away, this restaurant is the vision of the owners and is staffed by a team passionate about delivering fabulous food in surroundings that make you feel comfortable and well looked after. Even when we are just coming out of a pandemic.

Only the outside terrace is open at the moment, tables spaced to given diners maximum space, patio heaters dotted about to keep people warm (with a big basket of blankets for those that need an additional layer, and a European style canopy overhead so even a light shower won’t ruin the night. Situated on the high street in Bracknell, it is surrounded by higher buildings that mean there is no wind so whilst you get a fabulous view of the sunset in the evening, you don’t get chilly as the sun goes down.

“Enough waffle though, T, what’s the food actually like” I hear you say. Well this steak was declared “the best I have ever had in any restaurant anywhere, ever” by somebody who has had a fair few restaurant steaks. The menu is simple, paired back almost, and focusses on using top ingredients to produce exceptional food. There are just 6 starters and three desserts on the main menu, with a wok selection that allows you to one of four proteins to mix with one of six sauces and one of three noodles and vegetables to create your perfect stir fry, or nine other entrees (including the above sirloin at £25.95) and a delicious variety of sides. Whilst there aren’t pages and pages of choices, those that are on this menu are tough to choose between and really leave you discussing who is having what so you can see if sneaking off their plate might be an option.

And just when you think you can’t eat anything else they suggest some churros for dessert and you find yourself presented with a bowl of perfectly cooked doughy goodness.

On top of all this the service was exceptional. Valentina and her team made everybody feel welcome, despite it being the first week they have been open with these new restrictions in place still they made sure that even the most nervous of diners, keen to be out again, were reassured.

If you want to pop along, then you do need to book ahead (click here to do online or to call Den of Bracca direct), especially whilst it is only the terrace is open.

We thoroughly enjoyed our night out, it was laid back (rare that a dinner extends to over four hours!) and felt really special after a year of eating at home. We will definitely be back. Did someone say Bottomless Brunch?

Our bill was settled by Den of Bracca. All thoughts, opinion and photography is ours

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