This place, like many others, had been on my list for quite a while but when I saw it popping up everywhere on Instagram I knew I had to go – all of the photos looked amazing! It’s in Shoreditch, about 5 minutes’ walk from the big roundabout where Shoreditch Grind is located. We found ourselves walking away from the main road, and away from the direction we’re used to walking in and were wondering where it could possibly pop up from. We’d remembered having the same ‘are we lost!?’ thoughts when we were going to try Sodo pizza at the George & Vulture pub and it turned out that it wasn’t just close, it was literally next door! I’m not sure why we didn’t spot it when we visited the George & Vulture before, as I’m always on the look-out for new places to try.. perhaps because it was shut or perhaps it wasn’t open then as I think it’s quite a new café.
My first thought was that it was tiny, but actually it’s no smaller than Brickwood or other little brunch spots. There are a couple of tables outside and about four or five inside, plus a high table with stools at the back. The kitchen area is down some narrow stairs, so I didn’t envy the waiters and waitresses traipsing up and down! On first entering, there are tables on the left a huge coffee machine on the right. Big blackboards display the drinks available and the specials and there is a surprisingly large (and enticing!) row of cakes given its size. They serve Crosstown donuts (yay!), a number of loaf cakes and smaller bakes, and they had the most amazingly chunky cookie.
It was really hot on the day we chose to go – personally I prefer it to be cool inside a restaurant or café as I get hot when I eat and I hate the sticky feeling that comes with humid London summers. Despite the heat I still ordered a coffee as no brunch is complete without it! They’d featured in our London Coffee Guide so I had high expectations and I was most definitely not disappointed. I ordered a flat white and it was incredible –silky smooth with a thin layer of foam on top, served at the perfect temperature. Marcus couldn’t face a hot coffee in the heat so he went for an iced latte, and although I think it’s harder to tell the quality of the coffee when it’s iced, that tasted delicious too 🙂
Their menu is on a little clipboard which I love and it was absolutely amazing! It featured a wide range of unique dishes – every single dish had a huge number of elements which were well thought out and complimented each other perfectly. After much deliberation I went for the Smashed Avocado (hickory smoked beetroot hummus, pomegranate seeds, black sesame, baby mint and organic sourdough) and Marcus chose the Mushrooms on Toast (sautéed field and button mushrooms, rocket & basil pesto, shaved parmesan, crispy capers on organic sourdough). We shared the Toasted Waffles (apricots & peaches in lemongrass syrup, coconut yogurt, lemon verbena, white sesame and toasted pistachio). We were feeling pretty smug as everything we chose was delicious, but to be honest I watched other dishes come out and I don’t think there was a bad one on the menu! Our eggs came perfectly poached with bright orange yolks. My avocado was piled high and the beetroot hummus was beautifully pink. I love the combination of feta and avocado but they really took it to the next level with both taste and presentation. As always I tried some of Marcus’ food even though I couldn’t convince him to try mine (he doesn’t like beetroot, avocado OR feta!) and that was amazing too – a mix of sautéed mushrooms with ricotta, basil and pesto – again, presented beautifully. But the waffles were what really stole the show. Everything about them was perfect – they were soft, sweet and topped with the most delicious mix of peaches and apricots soaked in syrup. The coconut yogurt was creamy, the toasted pistachios added crunch and another bright colour and it was perfectly finished with the cutest edible flowers. (I’m assuming they were edible anyway – I couldn’t actually bring myself to eat the poor little things!).
Something else that caught my eye was the coconut sago pudding which looked so colourful and delicious. I also want to try their take on an Eggs Royale – they have green tea smoked salmon which sounds intriguing and a beetroot and lime hollandaise sauce which I think would be a lovely twist on the original. The couple next to us (strangely.. :P) shared just one dish, but they said that the corn fritters were amazing too.
After having such an amazing experience I knew for sure that I’d go back to try some of the other dishes which they serve – I hoped that if I went back before the end of summer I would make it in time to try other dishes from the same menu as I assumed from the style of the menu that it was seasonal and would change. As it turned out, we actually ended up back there the very next week. It wasn’t planned – we’d actually decided to go to the Attendant for brunch but they’d had a power failure, so couldn’t do any coffee or hot food and since Friends of Ours is just round the corner I jumped at the opportunity to go back there!
We turned up a bit later this time – early afternoon, and had to queue. It moved fast though and it was a lovely day so the time passed quickly, though there was a guy at the cafe next door who was particularly angered by the fact that we were all queuing. He came over a couple of times to express his annoyance, asking ‘why on earth we were queueing’ (pretty stupid question really given we were outside a cafe!?) and saying he couldn’t believe we were actually queueing (because it’s such a rare sight in London right!?). I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a quality brunch spot and not had to queue – he mentioned that he knew the owner and didn’t like him.. sour grapes 😛
The menu had actually changed that very week, so I was simultaneously excited to see what they’d added and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try any of the previous dishes. I ended up going for something which had stayed on the menu though – corn fritters (sweetcorn & beetroot fritters, roast golden beetroot, poached egg, avocado, kasundi, feta, mint & coriander) and Marcus had the smoked corn & pancetta hash (crushed new potatoes, watercress tartare, poached egg and spring onion) which was a new addition. Both were absolutely amazing – just as perfect as the first time. My fritters were crispy and flavoursome with a generous helping of avocado buried underneath, plenty of feta and a perfectly poached egg. The hash was a giant pile of deliciousness and the crispy, smokey bacon was cooked to perfection! Both were presented immaculately as is clearly the case for all of the dishes here – and making a hash look pretty is no easy feat!
They had also added a few new items which particularly caught my eye – brioche french toast (with caramelised banana, honeycomb, butterscotch sauce and candied pecans) and aloo gobi (with curried cauliflower & potato, wild rice, crispy chilli onion crumb, coriander and hard boiled spicy egg). I was desperate to try them but was trying to exercise some sort of will power as we were heading to Choccy Woccy Doo Dah afterwards (which ended up being fully booked for the day – so sticking to plans didn’t go too fabulously that day!).
I’m definitely planning to go back to try some of the other dishes they serve – their menu is literally exactly what I look for at a brunch place – a menu concise enough that it’s not overwhelming yet offers plenty of options to suit every mood. Most importantly though each dish is completely unique, perfectly presented and made up of so many elements which compliment each other perfectly. Even their bircher (which you could argue is in theory a more boring breakfast option) is made of a mix of oats and quinoa, with cranberries, raspberry labneh, chia, toasted almonds and hazelnuts, elderflower poached apple & pears, mint and edible flowers – how incredible does that sound!?
I honestly can’t find anything negative to say other than the fact that it was a little hot (though having been back again since this actually wasn’t an issue the second time) but I hardly feel like that’s something I could mark them down on. Some of the sides were a little pricey – £6 for smoked salmon seems a little steep even for London but other than that I’d say it was pretty flawless.
Would I recommend it? Definitely
Worth going out of your way for? Yep
Would I go back? 100% yes!
Link to their website: http://www.friendsofourscafe.com/alldaymenu/