Yes, this is “brunch carbonara” and, no, it does not contain pasta. I am sorry, Italians…
Today marked my second visit to Blu Jam Cafe, having been invited to for brunch, an institution which I still feel Tokyo is lagging behind in. Blu Jam has two locations and I headed both times to the Daikanyama location.
Daikanyama is known as a trendy, slightly upscale place with its Western-style cafes, beckoning fashionable Japanese and homesick foreigners. It’s T-site is legendary – a large, beautifully designed Tsutaya bookstore, harbouring Starbucks and popular hangout of trendy kids, casual readers and the freelance, mobile working crowd.
It was after my first visit to Blu Jam in which I called into Tsutaya to browse some of the magazines. There, staring me in the face, was a Dancyu – popular food magazine, with a serious of great recipe books. Within the first few pages, it promised to reveal true Italian food, and led with a paragraph about the true nature of carbonara. Continue reading “Blu Jam Cafe, Daikanyama – Cali brunch dreams”
Before I left for Tokyo, brunching was a big thing in London. The most popular places would book out in advance – a personal favourite was the Turkish Eggs from Kopapa at Seven Dials, although they now seem to have sadly closed! Or sometimes I would sit outside the Pavillion Cafe enjoying a Full English whilst admiring the lake.
I’m pretty sure that brunching will still continue to be a big thing in London and that the UK hasn’t completely screwed itself over, despite making possibly one of the biggest cock-ups in modern political history AKA Brexit (although do see here for concerns over food security and what the decision will mean for modern diet and health).
But through all the drama – including some epic political maneuvering and backstabbing – there is one thing that us Brits do retain: an eccentric sense of humour.
So when faced with the imminent destruction of the political, economic and social order of our country, we can still have a good laugh.
There comes a point where a Japanese breakfast doesn’t quite cut it. Grabbing a rice ball from the convenience store. Or raw egg and fermented soy beans on rice. Or that dubious pastry from a dubiously named ‘German’ bakery stocked with even more dubious ‘French items’, such as Croque Monsieurs.
Or maybe, it’s just the point where you want sausages. Proper, meaty sausages. Or you’re craving bacon so badly that you’d happily wear its scent as perfume.
Despite the rarity of these items, a lack of affordable quality bread, and even more ridiculously priced butter, my friend Luke and I set out to make the ultimate brunch. Watch and salivate.
For the uninitiated, The Breakfast Club is a trendy breakfast chain, which will not only sort you out with good and proper breakfast/brunch items until 5pm, but it will also fix you up with cocktails and drinks when it gets too late for bacon and eggs (although, in my humble opinion, it is never too late for bacon and eggs).
I previously enjoyed their Full Monty, but this post is a shout out for their Boston Beans (£8.30). These are some deliciously smoky pulled pork and beans with a mild sweetness, topped with a fried egg and served with eggs breads. It’s a gloriously rich, gooey and filling breakfast. Convince any friends with small appetites to order this, and then take home their leftovers for breakfast the next day. #winning
Alternatively, eat everyone’s breakfast at once.
Website: http://www.thebreakfastclubcafes.com/ (check this out for an awesome, retro gaming theme. Super Mario land anyone?) Where: Angel, Hoxton, Spitalfields, Soho, Battersea Rise When: Various. See website.
What is better than a hearty, good quality brunch?
One with gorgeous view and a whole host of wildlife.
And when I say wildlife, I mean all the animals from moorhens and Canadian geese to the denim-fur clad hipsters and their prized petits pooches. This is Victoria Park; this is the epitome of gentrification.
The Pavilion Café on the edge of the lake has nestled right in on the edge of the lake. And it’s perfect for a glorious weekend brunch.
Admire the hipsters whilst sipping a very fresh apple and beetroot juice.
Reminisce over last night’s party with Monmouth coffee cappuccino.
And let’s not forget the sausage and bacon sourced from the outstanding Ginger Pig butchers. In fact, I could never forget Ginger Pig bacon. I think I would go crazy become even crazier if I were told I could never eat it again (vegetarians: beware – it will turn you).
The Full English (~£9?) is great. Everything is cooked to perfection. The sourdough toast is moreish and not too dry. The only slightly strange item is the home-made beans, which contain fennel and are just plain peculiar.
Veggies – there are terats for you too. The veggie breakfast comes with spinach and halloumi as well as all the usual items.
The Pavilion Café 4/5 – Breakfast, brunch, lunch? It doesn’t matter. Get your Full English here and enjoy the view.
Stop! Alert! Some seriously good brunch has been discovered.
I visited The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell back in March but somehow missed reporting just what a charming place it is.
Think of light, airy rooms with high ceilings and large windows. Think of a simple yet stylish interior in grey and white.
Think of a brunch menu that includes BEEF RENDANG and CURRY LEAF WAFFLES and almost no traditional British fare that the aesthetics imply, and that one would expect on a brunch menu.
For lovers of bacon and eggs, fear not – these may be obtained. However, there are some adventurous items on this menu that are bound to please.
I took the Rendang Mince on Toast with a Crispy Quail’s Egg (~£9?). Rendang is a beef curry that originate from Indonesia but is popular across other parts of Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and the Phillippines. It uses coconut milk and a mix of spices such as ginger, turmeric and lemongrass.
And this beef rendang was delicious. It had a confident amount of spice and flavours that thoroughly warmed the palate. It vanished from my plate all too quickly, and sadly seems to have vanished off their brunch menu.
When I visit next time – for there will be a next time – I plan to tuck into Grilled Cornbread with Chorizo, a Fried Egg, Sweetcorn, Avocado & Red Pepper Salsa (£8.80), which one of my co-diners was very pleased with.
There are also Sweetcorn, Feta, Green Chilli & Curry Leaf Waffles with Smoked Streaky Bacon and Maple Syrup (£8.80). From what I sampled, the waffles seemed a little mild but I definitely need to order the whole dish to confirm this properly.
If you happen to be around Clerkenwell at lunch or dinner time, The Modern Pantry also offer a mouthwatering All Day Menu.
… So please expect further investigation upcoming on the blog.
The Modern Pantry 4/5 – Welcoming atmosphere and an interesting brunch menu.
Breakfast or brunch is my all time favourite meal. After having spent the past 3 years travelling a fair bit, I know I can eat anything for breakfast. In fact, I ate a 6-course breakfast every day when I was in Kuala Lumpur last summer. “Course” might not be the right choice of word as it was a buffet – the most delicious hotel buffet I’ve ever had! I’d start with Chinese, move onto Malay and Indian, hit the fruit and yoghurt, then the pastries, breads and cakes, before finishing off with skewered grapes at the chocolate fountain. (I risk dribbling on my keyboard just remembering this!)
So I was on a brunch quest in London and the name ‘Caravan’ kept popping up. And with this menu, how could I resist?
OK, so it’s obviously trendy, which is why I’d heard its name so many times and which is why it was seriously busy. However, it’s huge so we didn’t have to wait too long. Set 5 minutes walk from King’s Cross next to Central St Martins art college, inside is full of long tables, a semi-visible kitchen to one-side and an array of tasty-looking cakes sitting on one side.
First up, there was absolutely no question about what I would be drinking. Did I see a salt caramel hot chocolate on the menu? Why yes, I think I did!
At £3.50, it was most definitely over-priced for its size, but it was delicious and not too sweet. It probably could have been a bit heavier on the chocolate but I was satisfied (even if my wallet cried out in protest).
I was with my reliable dining partner Mimi, who ordered the Asian-inspired ‘Hangtown Fry’ – a bacon and oyster omelette. I sampled a small bit and can attest to the fact that the omelette was pleasingly soft (no-one like rubbery eggs!) and very flavoursome.
My brunch choice was a tough decision, but I settled on the baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, and toast (£7.50) with chorizo sausage (+ £2). The ragout was rich and slightly tangy, without too much acidity from the tomatoes. The chorizo was fantastic and the whole dish was topped with fresh parsley which brought it alive. Two small criticisms 1) I would have a preferred a bit more yoghurt; 2) the eggs were overwhelmed by the chorizo and ragout, and so I could hardly taste them at all! Not that it matters because all the flavours worked, but I would have happily swapped the eggs for some more chorizo. I admit the dish should probably change its name from “baked eggs” if that were the case!
Unfortunately, we’d spied an affogato (£4.50) on the menu for pudding and somehow we ordered it. Oh it was a heavenly coffee and vanilla mix.
Caravan’s menu is very exciting, and I’m itching to go back and try the salt beef bubble. And the poached eggs with aubergine puree. Or the corn and morcilla fritters. Or…. You get the idea.
Caravan 4/5 – Want a delicious and unusual brunch in a bustling atmosphere? Yes? Thought so.
Food 4/5 – Delicious, great quality. Portions could be a little larger.
Value 3/5 – I’m *sort of* getting used to London prices now. But £3.50 for a tiny hot choc? Salted caramel or no, that’s just too much.
Service 5/5 – Prompt and friendly.
Atmosphere 5/5 – It’s a giant busy room but it doesn’t get chaotic. It’s got exactly the right kind of buzz to accompany a tasty brunch.
Some places have such a reputation that their names seem to drift in the wind, snatches of overheard conversations on the street. The Breakfast Club is one of those places.
I first encountered it when a man approached me in the street to ask its location. After that, I heard The Breakfast Club mentioned everywhere. I couldn’t escape it.
It grew in my mind until I could resist it no longer, and decided to seek it out. I love a good breakfast. Or brunch. Take your pick.
As it happens, if you want to head to The Breakfast Club, it’s advisable to get there before 10am. The queue can get pretty long. We arrived at just before 10am on a Sunday and we had a queue of 10 minutes, which is bearable, especially when checking out the esoteric décor.
The Breakfast Club has an American diner style aesthetic, but don’t panic! English breakfasts are on the menu.
We were seated at a high table and our order was promptly taken. Our waitress was polite and efficient, but had to fight the urge to give me the veggie breakfast instead of my male co-diner, as often happens when dining out (for my post on food and sexism, click here).
Of course, I wasn’t eating any veggie stuff; I took the Full Monty English Breakfast (at £9.80 if my memory serves me well). This includes: bacon, sausage, black pudding, eggs, home-style fried potatoes, mushrooms, beans, grilled tomato and toasted multigrain bloomer. However, I wimped out and got two bacon instead of black pudding.
I’m a self-confessed food snob, so I was pleasantly surprised by the meatiness and herbiness of the sausages. The eggs were cooked spot on – still runny when broken – and the bread was tasty and thankfully far-removed from white cardboard that seems to grace breakfast plates all too often. Special mention goes to the potatoes, which were simply fantastic – not dry, not mushy, not too salty. My only criticism would be the tomato. Who wants to eat a raw tomato with a cooked breakfast?! Tomatoes should be grilled until soft. Please, Mr. Breakfast Club, don’t do a hotel-effort; get the tomato right.
My partner-in-breakfasting ordered the American veggie, which includes pancakes. I believe he was very satisfied with the choice.
In-keeping with my search for the best hot chocolate in London, I ordered one here. It took me back to my childhood when any kind of sweet, chocolate powder with milk was great. Now, very sweet, mildly chocolatey milk is not so great.
The Breakfast Club – 4/5
Overall, I left very full and satisfied. The Breakfast Club is hip so it’s perhaps a little overpriced for what is is. But the quality is good, and for a buzzing atmosphere, it’s hard to beat.
Find The Breakfast Club at Spitalfields (2-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS) or three other locations.
I was researching good places to eat breakfast/brunch in East London and I happened upon E Pellicci in Bethnal Green. Now, it might sound counter-intuitive to go to an Italian café serving up English breakfasts but I’ve previously had very good experiences (anyone who’s had Clowns’ bacon and egg toasties in Cambridge will know what I’m talking about).
E Pellicci happens to be only a mile’s walk from my flat and, as if to guide me there, I passed Bacon Street on my way.
E Pellicci was heaving on a Saturday morning, but we were greeted incredibly warming and immediately seated. There’s not a whole lot of choice, and you have to be prepared to share a table and squeeze. Somehow though, this just added to the charm. Brunch is a particularly social meal after all 🙂
I didn’t hesitate about my order; I went straight for the full English Breakfast (£5.50). The great thing about E Pellicci is that you can swap and add as many things as you like. So I swapped the tomatoes for some beans, and added an extra egg for £0.80. And look what I got myself:
I actually don’t advise adding anything extra to this because it is HUMONGOUS As for the quality of the food, it’s good for the price. The bacon was nice and thick; the eggs were still runny when opened; the sausage was not the best quality, but it wasn’t the worst either; the mushrooms were cooked perfectly and were very tasty; the fried bread was not too crispy; and the beans – well, they were just beans.
I refused to let myself be defeated by this monster of a breakfast.
I also got a good, strong cappuccino (£1.60) with a pleasing amount of chocolate powder on top.
If you’re not a breakfast fan, E Pellicci offer plenty of other café-style, English grub such as steak and kidney pudding with mash and veg. My friend took a small minestrone soup and bruschetta, which, in-keeping with my breakfast, is designed with the aim to feed the five thousand. Don’t expect gourmet stuff, but be prepared for hearty food that will fill you up.
E Pellicci 4/5 – Do not miss out on a tasty, amazing value brunch.