Showing posts with label Brunch Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brunch Review. Show all posts

13 August 2017

Brunch at Autumn Yard, Hackney

Today we venture back to brunch, the best meal of the day, and back into east London to visit Autumn Yard - a healthy-food hot spot hidden away in the heart of a creative collection of sheds. Seriously; from the outside Autumn Yard excludes 'airline hanger' chic, but once inside you'll discover a calm, Scandi-style space with plenty of wood, metal, concrete and white Eames chairs. Lovely. 
This relaxed, laid-back atmosphere is the ethos that drives the team at Autumn Yard. From the menus to the interior design, to the choice of background music and elegant array of veggies on sale, everything is designed to infuse the guest's mind with healthy vibes. Forget the hippie-shit; this is top-class, gorgeous food, beautiful design and clever marketing done well. Can you tell I'm in love yet?

According to their website, and my own observations, the Autumn Yard chefs create healthful, balanced dishes everyday to eat in or takeaway (ideal if you're running to your weaving class next door or yoga across the way). The menu is perfectly arranged to include vegetarian, vegan and meat-containing dishes without isolating them into their own sections (or even their own menus as-per other restaurants I've visited in recent weeks). There is an understanding that within a group of say four guests, each of them will have different dietary requirements and there's no need to single out the annoying vegetarian (me), the picky vegan (sometimes me) or shame the occasional meat-eaters (Alex) for their choice to still consume animals. 
Following the 'balanced' theme, we kicked off our lunch-sort-of-brunch with coffee (a creamy flat white for Alex) and smoothies (a super-charged, vibrantly green concoction with kale, cucumber, kiwi, apple and chia seeds). I mean, just look how pretty they are! Hello, Instagram! I later opted for a cheeky flat white of my own to take away which was perfectly delightful despite not having a lid...
Now's the bit you've all been waiting for - the food! Both our dishes, and the menu on the day we visited, had a slight South American vibe; think supersweet corn, zingy red onions, spicy chorizo, sweet tomatoes and crisp tortilla breads. It's easy to associate this area of the world with predominantly meat, and mostly beef, based dishes like barbacoa but the region actually is home to some of the 'staples' of the modern vegetarian diet. Quinoa, wild rice, açaí, shell beans, squash, tomatoes, a whole host of cheeses, black beans, onions and, the king, avocado. 

Alex went for the smokey black beans on flatbreads with creamy scrambled eggs, fiery chorizo and a tomato and cucumber salsa. Firstly, the portion was massive and we didn't need to eat for the rest of the day. The salsa added a freshness to the naturally rich dish (eggs, chorizo, beans) and the creamy eggs and fiery sausage sang of the classic British fry up. While the bread was a good choice as it was light, some parts were overly crisp but there you go. 
I chose the sweetcorn fritters with smashed avocado puree, fresh spinach and a honey and sweet chilli sauce - one of my absolute favourites. I also added two poached eggs as I'd had a beast gym session the day before. The sweetcorn fritters were light and airy and really, really sweet which obviously complimented the sweet sauce. Even the eggs worked with the sweet sauce but were sadly not runny enough to 'sauce up' the spinach - hello twigs of spinach stuck in my teeth! The colours and textures on this plate were delightful but I do feel the addition of eggs is 100% necessary (if you're not a vegan) to hold the different elements together. 
Overall, Autumn Yard is an absolutely dreamy place if 1) you love brunch dishes; 2) you have a mixed group of people with different dietary requirements; or 3) you're craving a calming spot to catch up with the gals that isn't absolutely rammed to the hilt with millennials getting their avocado toast fix (*cough* CLAPHAM *cough*). So without continuing to slag off my own generation and habits, my conclusion is go to Autumn Yard, go now and go every weekend, because when you find somewhere that makes you feel as welcome as this place does, there's no need to go anywhere else. 

Thank you to Autumn Yard for hosting this review. All opinions, as ever, are my own. 

30 June 2017

Brunch at Bon Vivant, Bloomsbury

As a certified Francophile (OK, not certified), I go crazy for anything French in London. Breton top, check. Basket on my bike with a baguette in, check. Speaking French at any opportunity, check. And now, I can add French BRUNCH to the list. At Bon Vivant, the naughtiest new arrival in Bloomsbury, our favourite meal of the day, brunch, gets flipped up and renamed as 'drunch' to be reflective of the bottomless booze option. I feel like 'drunch' may be my new favourite word. 
And while it may be my favourite word, we were horrifically hungover from two nights of architecture parties so completely avoided 'drunch', voting instead for strong AF coffee and sweet orange juice. The juice came topped with fresh orange slices and the strong coffee dusted with chocolate, so it was a sugary start to the day.
Our 'pre-drunch' folowed the sugar theme in the form of a beautiful basket of pastries. This is a pretty classic French breakfast of pain aux raisin, pain au chocolate and chunks of fresh bread. As a child, I would always order a hot chocolate alongside this basket of beautifulness when we were in Paris - it makes the perfect dipping partner! Both pastries were soft and rich with butter, but maintained a flakiness that only comes from great pastry. The bread selection was also really nice, mixing up the traditional white baguette with rye baguette and a seeded wholemeal version. The accompanying confitures were also delightful. 
For the main I event I went with.... avocado toast. Please don't hate me; it's literally my favourite dish in the world. This version came topped with two poached eggs (lovely, well-cooked, yolky), a sprinkling of smoked paprika (genius) and fresh parsley (pointless). While the dish was perfectly nice, the avocado was stone cold which really jarred with the warm poached eggs. My advice, take it out the fridge before service.  
 By contrast to my green goodness, Alex went for the utterly indulgent pancake stack with bananas, chocolate sauce and berry compote. The pancake batter was light and fluffy with the texture of a sponge cake which was DIVINE. The chocolate sauce was elevated when paired with the berry compote and the bananas gave even more sweetness. If you don't have a sweet tooth, opt for the egg and bacon version, otherwise I definitely recommend this version.  
 I was also going to like Bon Vivant; it's French, it's in the pretty Bloomsbury district and you can sit outside on the wraparound terrace. But, truly, the food was the real clincher. There's really nothing better than a strong coffee and a perfectly made pastry to start your morning and when you add pancakes you're certainly in for a whale of a time.

Thank you Bon Vivant for hosting this review. All opinions, as always, are my own.  

30 May 2017

Brunch at Mommi, Clapham

Ooooh today's a corker of a brunch review! As we all know, I rarely venture south of the river but my recent reviews have all been in a southerly direction. Bloody Clapham - why do you host all the very best brunch spots! The torture! Anyways, bitching about London's favourite borough aside, today's review is all about the three great pillars of brunch dining: bottomless booze, beautiful food and rawkus company. Welcome to MOMMI

Set on Clapham High Street within easy reach of the overground station and Clapham North tube, MOMMI certainly stands out from the crowd. The all-black-errthang frontage gives way to an Art Deco inspired interior with references of Great Gatsby gold, secretive flapper catch-up curved booths and an expert DJ spinning the decks all day. There's even floral-tiled floors in the bathroom for your #IHaveThisThingWithFloors Insta post. But above all, the best place to brunch at MOMMI is their high street terrace. Lined with dark wood panels and filled with white and yellow seating, it's the best of both worlds - tunes, sunshine and the hustle and bustle of the high street. Dreamy. 

Brunch, obviously, begins with booze. At MOMMI, take advantage of their three course bottomless offer and the order du jour is prosecco. Light in texture as well as taste, their chosen bottle is well balanced and not too fizzy for pre-noon drinking. We sank two bottles over 90 minutes, so it's pretty easy drinking. 
The 'starter' is an easy plate of chips 'n' dip - guacamole to be specific. Creamy smooth and with a great kick of chili, the guac was perfectly delicious but perhaps the chips could have done with a sprinkle of sea salt just to wake them up a little. When the dip is done they verge on being bland - not ideal. 
The true delights come in the main course. Guests on the bottomless deal can chose from: Latin Breakfast (air-dried Spanish jamon Iberico, toasted jalapeno corn muffin, poached eggs, Huacatay spinach, aji amarillo hollandaise); Smashed Avocado on Toast (poached eggs, asparagus and oak smoked salmon with organic honey and sesame); Churrasco Steak & Eggs (5oz smoked rib eye of beef chargrilled on coal, two fried eggs, chimichurri, thick-cut cassava fries); and Huevos Racheros (scrambled egg, heirloom tomato, red onion, spinach and mushroom, crispy tortilla, aji panca beans, cassava fries and coriander creme fraiche).

I went for the avocado on toast - sounds basic, it's not. The chunk of toast came laden with possibly a whole avocado mashed with a tonne of seasoning. On the top, two *BEAUTIFULLY* poached eggs perched while side acts of silky smoked salmon and iron-rich asparagus made the perfect accompaniments. The most delicious part of the dish was certainly the honey and sesame dressing - a sweet dressing that I never though would work with eggs, let alone avocado, but it was a revelation. 
My guest went for the churrasco steak and eggs. The perfectly cooked steak was obviously a true winner and it was well rested allowing for the chimichurri flavours to infuse. She swapped her fried eggs for scrambled and these were light, fluffy and buttery with plenty of seasoning. No sign of the cassava fries; instead we have slim-cut sweet potato fries again beautifully seasoned with plenty of salt. 

For dessert (by this point we were 1.5 bottles in) MOMMI keeps things light with cinnamon waffle churros, drenched in dulce de leche, organic honey, crispy quinoa and, in my guest's case, toasted almonds. These sweet pots of deliciousness were heady and rich with sugar, so thank god there's only a small portion. The little physalis didn't go amiss either and those chopsticks made scooping up the dulce de leche a joy!
Brunch is served in three 90-minute sittings from 11am, but I advise getting there a touch early to enjoy a few extra moments in the sunshine. We vacated our table at the end of the 90-minutes and finished our drinks on the terrace.

Priced at £29.50 per person for bottomless bubbles and three courses of fabulous food, there's little not to like about brunch at MOMMI. The music is fantastic with a live DJ on hand throughout your sitting and the food is absolutely brilliant. I can't wait to go back for dinner! If you're looking for the perfect place to chill with friends before a day in town or want to jump back on the horse after a boozy Friday night, then MOMMI is the place for you.

Thank you to MOMMI for hosting this review. All opinions, as ever, are my own.

5 May 2017

Brunch at Ben's Canteen, Clapham

Clapham and brunch are two words that go hand in hand, and Ben's Canteen is now exception. With two sites in Clapham and Earlsfield, the Aussie-inspired hot-spot is a hub of activity at the weekends. Hungover friends share bustling tables with pre-planned diners like Alex and I while the music pumps from behind the bar. Sore heads are satisfied by the plentiful portions, heady Bloody Marys and rich as can be coffee and in all the comfort of on of the most laid-back spaces I have brunched in. 
Brunch always begins with coffee and just look how preeeeeety these flat whites are! I absolutely love a bit of latte art and these made my day. We browsed through the huge menu which is packed with everything from the Full English and avo toast (duh, it's Clapham) to bursting burgers and eggs every style. 
We chose to try something a little different this time - sweetcorn and courgette fritters (£9.50); banana pancakes (£9.75) and a side of homemade hash browns with grated cheddar (£5). Bit of a random combo but bear with me. While waiting for the grub to arrive we also sipped on two refreshing juices - orange for Alex (sweet and fresh) and kale, mint, spinach, mango, kiwi and hemp seeds for me (refreshing, green and yet a touch sweet).
And then the plates arrived! Laden with delicious food I was initially impressed at the portion sizes. If you look at the surrounding area you can pay up to £12/13 for avocado toast (a literal joke) so for £9.50/£9.75 I was absolutely delighted with Ben's Canteen at this point. 
Weirdly going for the sweet choice rather than savoury, Alex's banana pancakes came laden with hazelnuts, salted caramel sauce, yoghurt and plenty of maple syrup. The stack was sticky and rich but with a distinctive bite thanks to the hazelnuts. Amazingly it was also not *too* sweet - perhaps the pancake batter was void of sugar? - so easily went down.
My dish of sweetcorn and courgette fritters was battered and deep-fried similar to a brilliant onion bhaji. It came served with With halloumi, balsamic roast tomato chutney and a poached egg plus a scattering of spinach so I was feeling particularly virtuous on the veggie front. The fritters with a scoop of chutney were absolutely DIVINE - I seriously mean that not just because it was free. I've never had a brunch like it and with the rich egg yolk and irony spinach I couldn't have been happier. Again, portion was massive but because I'm a greedy guts I would have enjoyed a second piece of cheese.
Oh, remember our rather odd choice of side? Well these hash brown babies too were brilliant. Layers of shredded potato were lovingly doused on shredded cheddar cheese which gave a wonderful stickiness to the top. While they maintained the triangle shape we all know and love, these were about 5cm deep so a proper heff of potato - I can assure you we didn't eat for the rest of the day.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend Ben's Canteen. Firstly, sit outside to enjoy the sunshine while you can and avoid getting a headache from the loud music (I'm so old). Secondly, order something sweet and something savoury to really enjoy the breadth of the kitchen's abilities. Thirdly, get the coffee - do it for Instagram if not for yourself. And lastly, JUST GO! Honestly, it's a belter and if I didn't live the other side of London I'd be there every weekend.

Thank you Ben's Canteen for hosting this review. All opinions and images are my own. 

18 April 2017

Brunch at BungaTINI, Covent Garden

Today's brunch review is such a funny one. On the hottest day of the year so far, myself and the palest woman I know sat outside at BungaTINI in Covent Garden slowly roasting in the midday sunshine while we chowed down on delicious, wood-fired Italian dishes. Can you imagine a better way to spend the weekend - NO!

We began, of course, with Bloody Marys. Served bottomless-style from a refashioned Jack Daniels bottle, these zingy blends were heady with vodka, kick-ass with celery and horseradish and wonderfully sweet from tomato juice. I sank about eight of these - safe to say, I was pretty merry by the end of brunch.
To eat we began with small plates. I chose the burrata with green tomato chutney and ciabatta which was a gorgeous combination of sweet and salty flavours set against crunchy toast. I absolutely LOVED the chutney - it had a marmalade like consistency and the sweetness of the tomato simply sang.
My guest went for the wood-fired eggs with Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano. This pretty dish is a fun, Italian take on the classic ham and eggs brekkie we love in this country but with a good whack of salty, umami-rich cheese across the top. Light enough to be a starter but rich enough to make a statement. 
For main we both went for the baked eggs with tomato and truffle. These came served extra piping hot from the oven yet maintained runny yolks. The tomato sauce was laced with burrata giving it extra creaminess and the truffle across the top added that touch of luxury. I wish it had some bread for dipping but other than that this was a brilliant brunch dish. 
And, of course, for dessert we went for two Italian classics - tiramisu and gelato! My salted caramel gelato was subtly salty which helped to balance the sweet caramel flavour. The smooth, creaminess of the ice cream was just divine too. My guests tiramisu was really bitter but in a good, classic way and dusted with plenty of coco powder for that added flourish. 
The Italian theme, even outside, carries through at BungaTINI. Set in the heart of the busy Covent Garden area the restaurant offers a quiet hideaway to enjoy, frankly, a bottomlessly boozy brunch done bloody well. I seriously recommend the wood-fired dishes and particularly loved the burrata starter. Well done BungaTINI! 

Thank you BungaTINI for arranging this review. All opinions are my own.

3 April 2017

Brunch at Fork Deli, Bloomsbury

Last weekend, we visited the beautiful Fork Deli in the heart of Bloomsbury. Firstly, this is an area I haven't really touched on here on the blog and secondly, Fork Deli is somewhere I've never heard of which is such as a shame as it's wonderful! We popped in for a little honeymoon-planning brunch with coffee, toast, and pastries galore.
Predominantly the reserve of students from nearby UCL and University of London, Fork Deli is a lovely little cafe decked in plenty of natural wood, glass and comforting features like product-lined shelves. Tables are a mix of high and low, so you can perch with a cheeky coffee or kick back with friends in the corner. While students poured over books at the table opposite, we sipped on two flat whites. Both were rich with coffee and beautifully presented, but a touch watery to be called a flat white per se. 

To 'start' we enjoyed a yogurt bowl topped with passion fruit coulis, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. I don't normally order such simple fare when reviewing places, but this beautiful bowl really caught my attention. And guess what - it was so delightful! In fact, this sweet yet sour delight has reignited my love of simply yogurt bowls. 
Next, I tucked into some of the best avocado toast I've ever had on a review. I believe the bread was gluten-free as it had a closer texture than I am used to but either way it was a great carrier for the dill and lemon-laced avocado. Topped with smoked salmon and micro red coriander, this classic brunch dish seemed utterly modern. I'll be back for this really soon!
Alex went for a filled croissant for his 'main'. Not usually a fan of cheese, I was surprised at how much he enjoyed the brie and ham filling which was umami-rich, salty and buttery. The croissant was flaky but not so flaky that it fell to pieces and gently warmed so really moreish. 
Overall, the atmosphere, drinks, and food at Fork Deli are really comforting and reminiscent of my university days. I miss being able to while away the hours in a beautiful little cafe reading through my study books and learning more about the world. Even if you're well-passed your uni days, Fork Deli promises to be the perfect spot to kick-back and relax in the middle of London. Winner!

27 March 2017

Brunch at Bar + Block, King's Cross

Bit of a different one today - yes, we went to a steak restaurant. For brunch. With a vegetarian. Bar + Block Steakhouse, part of the Whitbread Group that looks after Premier Inn and Costa, aims to 'bring steaks back to the high street' with accessible prices, quality produce and a modern approach to casual dining. This is a pretty fair analysis of their main menu offering, but when it comes to brunch Bar + Block keeps things easy - classic brunch dishes with a few unexpected additions. 
As usual, we began with coffee, which came from the Costa just across the hotel from the restaurant. This may seem uber basic but I was DELIGHTED! I really like the Costa coffee blend and drink it nearly every day. Call me high-street, call me chain loving - I don't care; it's delicious. We both enjoyed a cappuccino topped with a little cocoa powder. Alex's came decorated with the costa bean shape. Mine was a little less artistic. The orange juice too was nice but had too much ice in so it was really hard to drink. Hello brain freeze! 
Next up were the croissants. They look fairly normal right - WRONG! These buttery pastries are brushed with icing sugar and lightly grilled for added sweetness. And you can forget all about dipping your flaky pastry in jam too as these babies are filled like a doughnut with strawberry jam. Innovative, delicious and unexpected - a real win. 
For 'main' I went for avocado and poached egg on toast with salmon. While on the menu it is billed as 'avocado, poached egg, and chili on toast' the sheer number of chilies on my plate was a bit overwhelming. Does anyone eat all these chilies? I certainly didn't. The avocado was nice, laced with red onion, lemon, and more chili, but I could have done with more. The poached egg was overdone which was a real shame, while the salmon was perfectly nice. 
Alex went for the top billing of steak, egg and breakfast potatoes. The steak was surprisingly well cooked and exactly medium-rare as requested. There was a great sheen to the meat, displaying that it had been well-rested, and the texture was great. The fried egg was perfect and exactly circular (weirdly pleasing) and Alex adored the breakfast potatoes. It's like having chips for brekkie!

This was a really surprising review actually. I fully expected to be badly catered to as a vegetarian, but the number of veggie-friendly options was really surprising. That said, I think Alex's meaty steak and eggs dish was probably the winner of the day. 

If you're catching the train out of King's Cross or St Pancras then Bar + Block is an ideal place to pop in for a little sustenance before your big adventure. 

Thank you Bar + Block for arranging this review. All opinions, images and copy are my own. 

23 March 2017

Return to POLO 24 Bar, Bishopsgate

Today we return to one of my favourite breakfast spots in London - POLO 24 Bar just opposite Liverpool Street Station. Last time I visited I was severely hungover (as was Alex) so it was delightful to go back again with a clearer head.
We, naturally, began with coffee. Alex enjoyed a really smooth and creamy flat white with a beautiful flower design on the top. I do appreciate a good bit of latte art. The coffee was strong and would wake up even the most exhausted night-after diner. My breakfast tea came in a classic brown teapot and was lovely. What more can I say?
We enjoyed a little orange juice too, which came served in little milk bottles - cute! Fresh, chilled and sweet, there's nothing better than a great glass of OJ with your brekkie.
Speaking of, we went ALL OUT! I'm telling you we didn't eat again all day after enjoying these massive plates. Alex went for the classic full English with toast, beans, roasted tomato, mushrooms, eggs, bacon and sausages. Incredibly nothing was greasy or fatty tasting and the sweetness of the beans and tomato was, naturally, delicious against the meat. The mushrooms were a surprising highlight. 
Alternatively, I went for the full vegetarian breakfast. Great vegetarian breakfasts, outside of Turkish or Middle Eastern places, are quite tricky to come by. POLO 24 smashes any need for the meat with hash browns, bubble and squeak, avocado and perfectly fried eggs served with beans, toast, mushrooms and tomato. There's at least four of your five ten a day in there! The bubble and squeak could have been crisper but it was comfortingly delicious. I enjoyed layering up the toast with garlicky mushrooms, avocado and a dribble of egg yolk - OMG YUM!!!
While this review was kindly paid for by the POLO 24 team, I have visited a number of times over the last four years and I can honestly say it is 100% reliable. If you're hungry, need feeding and need something to sustain you ALL DAY POLO 24 is the place to go. Plus, you're promised a great chat with the owner while you sip on cheeky espressos at the bottom of the stairs.

Thank you POLO 24 for inviting me to review. All opinions, images and copy are my own.