Bottomless chocolate brunch – were more beautiful words ever spoken!?
Okay before you get too excited, like most ‘bottomless brunches’, it is the drinks (and not the food!) that’s bottomless – can you imagine having bottomless chocolate!? That said, their drinks do include an array of the most heavenly hot chocolates in every flavour you could dream of. And for a very reasonable £20, you can get two dishes, a side and unlimited amounts of their delightful hot chocolate creations, plus teas, coffees and other soft drinks.. or for an extra £15 you can get bottomless prosecco too – though unsurprisingly I opted for the former option – there’s only so much liquid I can drink in two hours and you can bet every millilitre of it was going to be chocolate-based!
The story of how Jaz & Jul’s came about is as wonderful as the concept itself – two girls who bonded over their love of chocolate and their dream of creating great tasting, ethically sourced hot chocolate, made with the finest ingredients to create a delicious drink where you don’t have to wade through sugary syrups and artificial ingredients to find fabulous flavours.
As well as their incredible hot chocolate (which is available to buy online) Jaz & Juls have a ‘Chocolate House’ – a chocolate café which serves up great coffee and an amazing chocolate-inspired menu alongside their award-winning hot chocolates!
I went in with high hopes – with two entrepeneurs so passionate about chocolate that they’ve built an entire café around it, it’s safe to assume they’ve got pretty good taste! Combine that with a wonderfully innovative menu (they haven’t simply gone down the thoughtless shove chocolate on everything route!) and you’ve got a recipe for success. Located in Islington’s Chapel Market, they’re a vegetarian café with plenty of vegan options available including the (very intriguing sounding) aubergine bacon which of course I just had to try!
On the left as you enter their little café there’s a wall of chocolate treats with various chocolate products available to buy. Next to that is the counter showcasing a beautiful array of homemade bakes to eat in or take away as well as a few tables and a big comfy sofa. Downstairs is the best place to sit in my opinion though! It’s by no means a fancy place, but the simplistic décor makes it feel homely. A small staircase takes you into a beautifully cosy room where there are little tables for two, a larger communal table and booths set into little alcoves in the wall which would be perfect for groups or small parties. Decoration continues the homely theme, with cute and quirky pieces dotted around and a big bookcase housing an array of books and even board games to play!
As soon as we sat down we ordered our first round of drinks – neither of us could wait to try their hot chocolates! I went for Orangeytang (orange, cardamom & cloves) and my friend chose the Caramelimelicious – an intriguing combination of lime and caramel which surprisingly worked really well. Their hot chocolates are just as incredible as you’d hope from a chocolate café. On top is a deliciously thin layer of froth and underneath sits the smooth, warming chocolatey drink, served at just the right temperature. Each one is absolutely packed full of flavour – and perfectly balanced flavours too, without the artificial aftertaste or overpowering sweetness that is common in so many hot chocolates. They’re thin too (the consistency of tea or coffee) which I much prefer to some thicker, more gloopy hot chocolates I’ve had in the past.. though that makes them even more drinkable – much as we tried we genuinely couldn’t make each round last more than a couple of minutes!
Their menu is absolutely perfect – I could’ve eaten every single thing on there, which made narrowing it down quite difficult! We were lucky enough to get to try more than a couple of dishes but even then it was hard to choose. After much deliberation we settled on the veggie breakfast hash (spicy potatoes with black bean sausage, pepper, kale, smokey aubergine rashers and avocado), cornbread waffles with roasted cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta and a cocoa pesto drizzle and the baked eggs (in chocolate black bean chilli with sourdough toast). Of course by the time we’d decided it was time to get another round of hot chocolates in – a Gingerbread, man! (cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice & ginger – which was just as heavenly as it sounds!) and Quite White (white chocolate with a hint of pepper to offset some of the sweetness).
The food was absolutely incredible! I loved the veggie takes on traditional sausages and bacon rashers, the black bean chilli was beautifully thick and rich from (what I assume was) the addition of dark chocolate and the cornbread waffle was beautifully balanced – the corn providing hints of both sweet and savoury and the waffle itself so soft and fluffy. The cocoa pesto drizzle was heavenly too – there were cacao nibs scattered throughout which were both sweet and bitter and added a slightly crunchy texture too.. I’d have bought a whole jar of it if I could! Even the toast was lovely. I’m almost convinced it wasn’t sourdough (I’m not sure whether they ran out or just brought us an alternative), but it was dense and nutty – a little like rye – perfect for smothering in butter and dipping into the rich black bean chilli.
Savoury dishes down it was time to order more hot chocolates (I decided on the single origin 75% Peruvian while my friend ‘simply had to’ get another white chocolate one!) and wait for our sweet dishes. Most of their sweet dishes include the addition of fruit in some shape or form, and my friend doesn’t like fruit, so it was looking like the sweet dishes were down to me to conquer.. such a shame! Admittedly I generally wouldn’t choose fruit with chocolate (unless it’s chocolate orange), though I did reel off an extensive list of desserts that I couldn’t believe she didn’t like due to their fruit component – apple crumble, apple pie, Christmas pudding and Bakewell tart to name just a few! We did try to choose the ‘least fruity’ options so she could try some though, so unfortunately that meant the banana bread was out, but as a banana bread fanatic I managed to grab some as a takeaway on the way out.. and warmed up with lashings of butter it was dreamy!
Smoothie bowls also feature on their sweet menu with two flavours on offer – chocolate & avocado and berry & almond. Both come topped with granola and chocolate chips and with almond butter as an additional topping I definitely wouldn’t be against trying one of them in future! When it comes to sweet brunch options I’ve only really ever got my eye on the true classics though – pancakes and waffles are usually my top choices! Usually much as the idea of French toast appeals to me I often find it to be disappointing, with the wonderful promise of fluffy, sweet fried bread often being soggy and underwhelming. Their only sweet waffle option included peanuts though, so with banana bread also off the cards we ended up ordering the Jaffa pancakes (orange zest pancakes with marmalade-maple syrup and chocolate sauce) and their take on French toast (in a coconut, almond and banana batter with seasonal fruit, compote and maple syrup).
Both happened to be vegan.. and whilst my vegan knowledge is pretty poor I was seriously impressed – I’m sure butter, eggs and milk are key ingredients in both pancakes and French toast, yet these vegan versions tasted no less delicious than I’d expect! On paper the French toast would’ve been my friend’s worst nightmare – it included banana, fruit compote AND coconut (she also doesn’t like coconut.. imagine!). When it actually arrived we actually couldn’t stop fighting over it though.. it was absolutely insane!! Thick slabs of bread, fried until golden brown, with the most delightful sweet crust, a hint of coconut and a fluffy soft middle. Admittedly it could’ve lost the fruit compote but the maple syrup and the rest of the flavours more than made up for the slightly unwelcome addition of fruit!
The French toast was my favourite but the pancakes were a winner too.. the sauce was absolutely heavenly – despite being remarkably thin (almost like water), it had the most divine rich, deep chocolate flavour.. I think we sent the plates back clean enough to go straight back in the cupboard! Piled up with sweet, juicy orange and soft, fluffy pancakes it was a perfect end to a great brunch.
We both had an absolutely incredible morning. The free-flowing hot chocolates were undoubtedly the highlight – they were absolutely delicious! Combine those with a unique and innovative menu, lovely staff and a counter full of incredible chocolatey treats and you’ve got the perfect place for weekend brunch for both chocolate and non-chocolate lovers alike! Though are there really people out there who don’t like chocolate..!?
Link to their website: http://www.jazandjuls.co.uk/
P.S. They also have an offer where between 3 and 5pm on Friday afternoon you can get a slice of cake or a free cookie with every coffee or hot chocolate.. if that isn’t the perfect start to the weekend then I don’t know what is!