Every now and then I may write a little review about a place that I particularly recommend for brunch…watch the space!
27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RM, 020 7253 5754
I am not a purist when it comes to coffee, but being a bit sensitive to caffeine and therefore always sticking with decaf it’s a good idea to get my coffee where people are passionate about their beans, as the decaf option is always better there. One of these places is Workshop on Clerkenwell Road known for it’s a big, on site, coffee roaster.
Of course, what made me want to visit more than the coffee was the breakfast menu. It reminded me of the menu at fellow Antipodean eaterie Kopapa (see Kopapa) and having now had brunch in both, I have to recommend Workshop over Kopapa.
The place is bigger than it first seems which is good, as there was a little queue when we arrived on Sunday noon but it moved along quickly. The décor has a typical Clerkenwell/Shoreditch feel to it, with lots of wood (tables, walls, bar, floor) and bare brick walls next to some flock wallpaper with a skull pattern.
My friend and I opted for the ‘French toast with Bramley Lemon Curd Mascarpone and caramelized cardamom apples & walnuts’. I couldn’t taste much lemon in the mascarpone and also couldn’t really get the cardamom flavour in the apples but still – or maybe therefore – this dish was overall one of best French toasts I ever had! Made from artisan French baguette the toast was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The apples were harmonizing with the mascarpone and the walnuts, which were roasted, caramelized and then dusted in icing sugar – adding maple taste in an innovative way.
Afterwards we shared the ‘Corn fritters, baby spinach, grilled halloumi, tomato kasundi with poached egg’ which proved that Workshop is as good with their savory as with their sweet breakfast dishes! The kasundi turned out to be a sweetish pickle, exactly what the fritters needed. Again, it was the combination of fresh ingredients and flavours that made the whole dish work wonderfully well.
Oh, and our cappuccinos and flat whites also lived up to the hype. But should you wish for tea, a friendly waitress will bring it over alongside a tiny milk bottle on a little tray…lovely!
4 Sutton Lane, EC1M 5PU; 020 7490 2992
I first went to this Café at lunchtime when it gets a little overwhelmed with the creative crowds that descend to J&A by a small alleyway (look out for the little J&A sign!).
The friendly waitresses are rushed off their feet but still happy find you a seat and as long as you are happy to share one of the larger tables in the main room or the cute backyard you will be seated quickly in this buzzing place. An extra room at the top is much calmer and has the same feel of the design factory turned restaurant with bare brick walls and fresh flowers in the windows.
The lunch menu tempts with baked potatoes with premium toppings such as steak, rocket, tomato, capers and horseradish sauce and specialty tarts: thin filo pastry laden with loads of tasty slow roast tomatoes, courgette, rocket and parmesan was full of flavour.
Be quick to order though as both sold out by 1.30pm which apparently isn’t unusual. There may also be a slight wait for your order to arrive but staff apologised for a delay on a neighbouring table by offering free cakes.
This should have proved a very good deal for the guests, especially if they opted for the Victoria Sponge. I have since been back just to have more of their homemade cakes – all perfect in taste and texture.
Of course you can also have breakfast or brunch at J&A, where the soda bread for the toast you have with your eggs is of course also made on site. For the sweeter tooth, try the granola or some of the sweet pancakes. The only shame about this café is that it’s closed on Sundays.
Fleet River Bakery
71 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3JF; 020 7691 1457
It is this café that first introduced me to those tasty Duffins I can’t get enough of and which I then had to recreate to share the love with you guys (see Duffin receipe here).
And it’s not just the Duffins that I can recommend at the Fleet River Bakery. All breads and cakes are freshly made on site and taste delicious. Breakfast’s wholemeal bread is delicous and best eaten warmed up in the provided toaster, which sits next to an array of breakfast spreads, such as peanut butter, honey and jams.
The small room you enter through displays the cakes, salads and sandwiches on a side bar not far from a little coffee island, where you can pick up a nice cup of Monmouth coffee.
If you wish to eat in, balance your tray down a few, then up a few steps into rustic backrooms, filled a slightly random mix of tables, mis-matched chairs, an old radiator, art deco clock and even a church hymn board.
If you want to come for lunch you can check the daily specials on Fleet River Bakery’s twitter account. I recently had a perfectly balanced Gazpacho which came with fruity olive bread. ‘
Make sure you have some cake for dessert though Forbidden Fruit Cake’ was just an apple slice but with a juicy filling, baked to perfection. Breakfast’s wholemeal bread is also delicious and best warmed in the provided toaster –enjoy with a cup of Monmouth coffee.