If you love natural wine, Japanese food, and like your music on vinyl, pouring decadently out of Klipschorn speakers, you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere better to spend an evening in London than Brilliant Corners on the Kingsland Road in Dalston. The bar was opened by brothers Amit and Aneesh Patel four years ago, when they realised there was nowhere in London with the kind of sound system they liked permanently installed, nor a music venue with good drink offerings. In response, they simply created the sort of place they’d want to go to themselves.
At Brilliant Corners, DJs play an eclectic selection of records from around 7pm until midnight every evening (and until 1:30am at weekends)—but thanks to the Klipschorns (cult corner speakers championed by David Mancuso at his 1970s loft parties in New York), music here is something you can either just enjoy in the background, or be completely consumed by. The sound produced by these speakers is “rich in detail, warm, and sounds good at low-levels,” as Amit explains. “It’s not about power and bass, but fidelity of the recording.” There’s even acoustic treatment on the walls, guaranteeing that nothing interferes with the sound—or, as it turns out, with your enjoyment of your wine. I drank a bottle of Sébastien Chatillon’s dangerously good Levat with one of my oldest friends, and we were provided with the perfect soundtrack. By 1:00am we were dancing kizomba, glasses in hand, fully converted to the Klipsch cause, and wondering why we didn’t imbibe within these brilliant (acoustically treated) walls more often.
The food at Brilliant Corners was an unexpected treat—and is an area Amit tells me they have been recently focusing all their energies on, with the young kitchen team “forensically investigating traditional Japanese techniques to make this food correctly, or at least understand what deviations from tradition we should make.” I tried their agedashi tofu (£6, here deep fried in a vegan tentsuyu broth), which was delicious, as well as the excellent deep fried free-range chicken (£6), marinated in ginger, garlic, soy, and sake. The tuna here is super fresh line caught Atlantic albacore, and the mackerel and scallops are from Scotland (all available as nigiri or sashimi).
The wine list here is short but sweet with very reasonable prices—including a nice magnum selection for group revelry (think Princic, Le Coste, Radikon, and Milan) and delicious offerings by the bottle from the likes of Baptiste Cousin, Pierre Frick, Jean-Pierre Robinot, Quarticello, and La Garagista in Vermont, as well as the awesome Ad Vinum rosé. Their by-the-glass selection includes Partida Creus, the Les Foulards red and white, Bertrand Galbrun’s Impétueuse, and the Domaine de Montcy Cheverny—all for £6.50 or £7, as well as house reds and whites for £5. There is also a selection of interesting bottles behind the bar that haven’t yet made it onto the list, so it’s worth taking a look.
You’d think a bar/restaurant on the hip Kingsland Road that boasted an extraordinarily good sound system and natural wines would somehow be too-cool-for-school (or at least too cool for yours truly—a perennially unhip 30 something). But at Brilliant Corners there’s something disarmingly charming about the brothers’ attention to detail and pursuit of fidelity of sound—for this reason alone the space stands out, especially when so many bars and restaurants are today designed with no regard for acoustics at all. Pair a beautiful aural environment with thoughtful kitchen work and a deep bench of natural wine, and well, you’ve built more than a bar—Brilliant Corners is a destination.
Venetia Thompson is a British freelance journalist based in Mexico City, writing for The Guardian, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller, and VICE.