Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Breakfast Club and Columbia Road Flower Market

Last weekend I went for a girly brunch at The Breakfast Club in Hoxton Square. This has to be my favourite branch of the well-loved London establishment - while there's still a queue of hungry would-be brunchers snaking out into the road, inside the venue it's spacious and bright, with plenty of room to sit and have a leisurely catch-up over the fantastic food.

The interior is Hoxton-cool, with song lyrics above the diner-style serving counter, colourful SMEG fridges (one of which apparently shields a hidden staircase to a speak-easy bar below), and the "world's smallest disco" in the toilets*. 

First, let's talk about drinks: for the sensible bruncher (or for those who are "never drinking again") there is a decent list of hot and cold drinks - tea, coffee, juices, milkshakes, and plenty of fruity smoothies. And, for the more hard-core drinkers there are brunch-time cocktails...

A morning mojito...

Bloody Mary, a brunch-time classic

As one would expect, The Breakfast Club has a long and varied brunch menu, and the four of us all opted for something different. Smoked salmon scrambled eggs consisted of tasty scrambled eggs topped with an almost over-generous helping of salmon, served on granary toast with a salad on the side.

Eggs Royale looked delicious, although the portion size was maybe less epic than some of the other dishes. Perfectly poached eggs sat atop doughy English muffins, with another decent helping of salmon and a rich drizzling of buttery hollandaise.

American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup was the most impressive-looking dish: a huge tangle of crispy bacon strips, balanced precariously on top of four thick pancakes (much denser than the usual American pancakes, it's definitely a challenge to finish all four!). A big squeezy bottle of maple syrup and a dusting of icing sugar completed the sweet-savoury combo.

I ordered the "Half Monty" breakfast, which consisted of a (very tasty)sausage, more of that fantastic bacon, eggs any way (I went for scrambled), beans, and two little triangles of toast. It was all very good, although I was disappointed with my 'normal' toast - last time I came my meal was served with doughy, almost panini-like slices of griddle-marked bread, which was delicious.

We lingered for a long time over our brunch: the portions are big here, and we spent a good while langurously picking at the remnants of the meal before finally giving up (half a sausage, a few sad bits of toast, and some remnants of salmon defeated us...).After calling it quits on the food, we downed the rest of our (alcoholic/caffeinated) drinks and wandered East to the lovely Columbia Road Flower Market (open every Sunday from 8am to 3pm).

I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never been before, despite living in this area for two years now. The whole street was taken over by flower stalls, overflowing with beautiful, ridiculously cheap flowers: enormous bunches of hydrangeas, clusters of vibrant sunflowers, armfuls of gorgeous red roses (only £5!!). With the cockney stall holders cheerfully hawking their wares, it was noisy and colourful and fun, and if I hadn't had been cycling home I would have filled my flat to the brim with flowers. Next time....!

On either side of the market the road is lined with rows of brightly-painted shops, selling antiques, cakes, clothes, jewellery, art... There's an old-fashioned sweet shop, a 1950s-style hair and nail salon, and people playing instruments and singing on street corners. All in all,  a really lovely place to spend an afternoon: perfect for picking up some gifts (or flowers), or for simply browsing through and soaking up the incredible atmosphere.

Square MealBreakfast Club on Urbanspoon

*with a tiny disco-ball, and cubicles papered with children's wallpaper featuring comic book heroes or twee fairytale characters, a trip to the loo has never been so fun...