Sorry I’ve been pretty quiet on here recently.. a combination of being busy at work, enjoying family time over Christmas and generally feeling very little motivation to write (or, admittedly, do many other things.. besides eat!) has meant I haven’t posted in a while, but safe to say I certainly haven’t been slacking on the food front, so I wanted to share some of my favourites with you from this year so far.
When it comes to deciding between meals, brunch will always win in my eyes, and I’ve been wanting to visit this beautiful Antipodean café for ages! They have two locations – one in Broadway Market and one in Shoreditch – we visited the Shoreditch site as I expected it to be far quieter on the weekends (it’s slightly larger and a bit more out of the way!). Even so, it got very busy and deservedly so – this was one of the best brunches I’ve had for a while! Menu-wise, the two locations are pretty similar, but they do have the addition of French Toast at their Broadway Market location. Initially I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have this, but it turned out to be a good thing, as everything else sounded so good that we were struggling to decide as it was! Eventually we settled on the kimchi fried eggs, Freddy special and pancakes with blueberries and Canadian maple syrup. Everything we had was absolutely delicious – our savoury dishes came with thick slabs of wonderful sourdough, the pancakes were light and fluffy, and everything was presented beautifully. Combined with great coffee (not that you’d expect anything less from a NZ-themed brunch spot,, lovely staff and a great atmosphere it made for a pretty perfect brunch!
I absolutely love this place! I’d been to their Soho site before, but when I got invited down to their Shoreditch location I was so excited to visit – it’s slightly larger and has more natural light (yay!) but other than that it’s the same incredible food served up by a wonderfully passionate team. Menu-wise they have a focus on sharing, with plenty of small plates and sides (even the larger plates are better off shared in my opinion!). Every dish we had was packed full of flavour – my favourite was the beautifully simple mastello cheese with fig chutney – but the absolute highlight for me was their suvlaki. I hate to be predictable given the name of the place but these things are absolutely perfect – so many delicious elements wrapped up in wonderfully chewy, pillow-soft pittas. They’re available as both mini and full size too – we ordered mini ones so that we could try them all, but the prawn in particular (unconventional I know – possibly the only prawn suvlaki I’ve ever had!) was incredible – next time I go I’m definitely getting a full sized one!
I visited the newly opened Bowls restaurant in Soho for dinner and this place definitely deserves a mention – great value, delicious food, huge portions and some seriously good cassava fries! Opening its doors late last year, at Bowls they believe (as you may have guessed from the name!) that “the best things come in bowls”, and with my nightly dessert bowls being the highlight of most days, it’s safe to say I couldn’t agree more – there’s something so satisfying about eating from a giant bowl – and so they have created an entire menu based around the concept of comforting dishes which “just don’t quite work on plates”! They have a wonderfully varied menu featuring cuisines from all around the world, ranging from Korean bibimbap to Jamaican curry goat and Malaysian laksa. Sides include heavenly cassava fries, fried plantain, truffled courgette fries, tostadas (which come with a mountain of guac!), wings and pillow-soft baos, and they do some seriously great cocktails too. Each dish comes beautifully presented – they have such a wonderful collection of bowls in all shapes, sizes and colours! A surprisingly great value meal too despite its central location!
A Pie Party
My love for Claire and her wonderful pies is no secret, but this month she really has pulled out all the stops to bring us lucky Londoners pure dessert heaven. To add to her market success, she’s running a pop-up dessert café at Siam Eatery’s Covent Garden location, offering not only her infamous pies but also her heavenly Nutella stuffed cookies, brownies and the most wonderfully decadent hot chocolates. Taking hot chocolate to a whole new level, she uses only pure chocolate, cream and milk in hers, and you can even add extras such as caramel sauce, chunks of her wonderful brownie AND a scoop of ice cream – if a hot chocolate float isn’t an absolute revelation then I don’t know what is!
As if that wasn’t enough, Claire ran her first dessert-only supper club – five courses of pure dessert heaven, with the aim of showcasing more of what she could do beyond pies, and LORD did she achieve that – what an absolute talent she is. We started with a heavenly sticky toffee banana bread with caramelised bananas and toasted pecan ice cream, and despite thinking it just could not get any better, we were presented with four more insanely good courses. A wonderfully innovative menu (who would even think of creating a miso butter tart!?), executed perfectly; quite literally my perfect evening, and I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that this will become a regular occurrence!
Cutter & Squidge
Despite being absolutely spoilt for good food and great coffee in the City, a good cake shop is surprisingly non-existent, with Kontidor & Cook having been the only real option, before they closed their Gherkin store at the end of last year. So when I heard that Cutter & Squidge were opening up just minutes’ walk from my work, I couldn’t have been more excited – and with such stunning cakes, the Royal Exchange couldn’t have been a more fitting location! In store is a huge range of their ever-stunning dream cakes (with flavours ranging from eton mess to matcha to chocolate and everything in between!) alongside their biskies, cake truffles, brownies, homemade marshmallows and cookies, there’s something for every occasion and hopefully it will save us from thousands of Colins. (Disclaimer – nothing wrong with Colin – I love a good caterpillar cake, but for a special occasion you can’t beat a gorgeous dreamcake or a beautiful box of biskies!).
Matcha & Beyond
Last but not least – an absolute gem of a café on the beautiful Kings Road in Chelsea. Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that matcha is being increasingly popular with places like Pret even jumping on the matcha latte hype, and if you’re yet to be converted then this is the place for you. Serving everything from ceremonial shots for the hardcore matcha lovers to white chocolate matcha lattes for those who prefer something sweeter, they use the highest quality matcha sourced from Japan in all of their drinks and bakes. If anything I found my flat green not sweet enough; a far cry from the overly sweet, pale green mugs of disappointment found at many other London cafes. My favourite part (perhaps predictably!) were the baked items though – cakes, cookies and traybakes galore! The babka was probably my favourite – it was packed full of walnuts and white chocolate chips for both sweetness and texture, and the matcha flavour was perfect. I got an extra slice to take home and have warm with coffee and it was somehow even better warmed up too! Everything I tried was wonderful, but that along with their green velvet are absolute must-trys for me (and I must go back for their matcha filled chocolate fondant!).
*Note that their babka is only available on weekends, in case you go down mid-week to be disappointed!
Hope you’ve all had a great start to the year, and happy eating!