Friday, 30 November 2012

Brunch at the Bluebird Cafe

One of my friends recently made the move from East to West, giving me a good excuse to tear myself from my NE London comfort zone and head to Chelsea to try something new. On this occasion, we decided to go to the cafe at Bluebird. In addition to the cafe, this stylish establishment boasts a restaurant, bar, courtyard, bakery, and shop - everything you could possibly need wrapped up into one handy package!

It was another of those crisp, sunny autumn days we seem to have had so many of this year, and as my friend happened to have spent the night in Angel, we decided to cycle over to Kings Road together. Cycling is actually one of the fastest ways to get to Chelsea from Angel - on a decent bike you can do it in around 40 minutes (add on ten or so if you're wobbling your way there on a heavy Boris bike!)

The nicest route cuts down to Embankment, and continues along the Thames (with a brief diversion around Westminster) all the way to ChelseaBridge Road, where you can turn back 'in-land' towards Sloane Square. It's definitely a great way to build up an appetite and get some vitamin D on the way - far preferable to a stinky ride on the underground any day!

Arriving slightly windblown after our cycle, we joined our friend in the cafe and placed our orders (just in time for the 11.30 breakfast cut-off). I went for soft-boiled eggs and - inspired by my Modern Pantry experience - asked for some marmite to spread on my soldiers. Yum.

My friends both went for salmon-y options - eggs royale and salmon with scrambled eggs - both of which looked delicious. As a change from my usual English breakfast I ordered a pot of jasmine tea, which was very refreshing, and (while I'm not sure if there is any truth behind this perception) felt healthier than my usual cuppa.

Annoyingly I forgot to take any photos of the food, but did manage to take a few of the venue to make up for it! It really was a very pleasant spot for brunch - light and airy, with plenty of cute, quirky details (arty light installations, a wall of pretty painted plates). The sunny courtyard area is lovely too - I'd love to come back for drinks in the summer (although if alcohol is involved I'll probably have to leave my bike at home!)

After our meal, we made our way down to the food market outside Partridges (I've been before following a trip to Tom's Kitchen, and it's one of my favourites). I'd been trying to save money for the Christmas season with a no-clothes-shopping ban, but unfortunately there are a ridiculous number of lovely boutiques on Kings Road and I ended up buying some (in my defence, heavily discounted!) work trousers in the LK Bennet outlet shop. It's definitely a much more pleasant shopping experience than Central London...

Once we'd managed to drag ourselves away from the shops, we wandered around the market, snacking on free tasters (my favourite was a cube of bread dipped in heady truffle-infused honey) before picking  up some dessert at one of the lovely cake stands. I was very impressed with my enoooormous meringue, which had the gorgeously chewy interior which is the mark of a truly good meringue. And if I hadn't been on my bike, I definitely would have taken home a few of these beautiful mini-cupcakes:

Apparently Pierce Brosnan was there at the same time as us, but we didn't see him - probably because I am the world's worst celebrity spotter (I'm still kicking myself over the time I didn't notice James McAvoy sitting literally next to me at Smiths of Smithfields...). Despite this failure, it was a lovely day, and it was great to go somewhere totally different from my usual Angel/Shoreditch/Soho haunts: to all my fellow 'Easties', I definitely recommend getting on your bike and getting over here!

Bluebird on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Malaysian food diaries III: Dim sum brunch in KL

After making our way up the West coast of peninsular Malaysia to Langkawi, and back down the centre via the Cameron Highlands, we ended our holiday with one final day in KL.

I am a huge fan of dim sum (I once consumed 18 prawn dumplings in one sitting...), and while you can get some great dim sum in London - Yautcha is my favourite - I was keen to try out the 'real deal' with a traditional Asian dim sum brunch before we left. With this goal in mind, we returned to Pavilion Mall (home of Suki-Ya) to Din Tai Fung, a chain well known for its dim sum offering.

A tower of dim sum deliciousness...

After perusing the menu, we ordered four types of dim sum: pork and prawn shao mai, crab xiao long bao, pork and prawn dumplings, and pork buns; alongside a couple of other dishes - braised beef soup for me, and pork chop fried rice for my boyfriend - and a big pot of jasmine tea.

My soup was excellent: delicious chunks of tender, slow-cooked beef floating in an intensely meaty savoury broth, with some wilted greens thrown in for good measure. The portion was a lot bigger than I expected - see the tea cup next to the bowl for a sense of scale! - and combined with the huge pot of jasmine tea, I was pretty full of liquid by the end of the meal (as attested by my 'sloshing' stomach). Totally worth it though!

Pork and prawn shao mai

The dim sum arrived as they were ready (which was somewhat faster than we could eat them), and we soon had a towering stack of bamboo baskets on our table.

My favourite were the pork and prawn shai mai. These little pockets were filled with a gingery meat filling and fragrant juices (which spurted out messily - but tastily - with every bite), and topped with a delicately balanced prawn.

Pork and prawn dumplings

The pork and prawn dumplings were also a lot 'juicier' than any I've had before (causing my boyfriend some concern that he may have squirted the couple at the table next to us!), but were delicious all the same.

Crab xiao long bao

The crab xiao long bao were a bit less hazardous - smaller than the other dumplings, they could be consumed in one tasty mouthful - and had a pleasantly delicate crab flavour.

I only managed a tiny taste of pork bun, but was very impressed. The last time I tried pork bun was at a service station in Vietnam - a horrible concoction of grisly unidentified meat in a powdery bun. These were completely different: delicious, richly flavoured pork filling encased in incredibly light pillows of dough.

After brunch we went for a walk round the centre of KL. In our two-week absence from the city Christmas decorations had appeared everywhere, and it felt very strange walking around amongst all the Christmas trees in 30C heat and brilliant sunshine. It definitely put me in a festive mood though, and the thought of heading back to chilly London became a bit less depressing when tempered with thoughts of party season!

Christmas AND summer clothes - crazy times

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Malaysian food diaries II: Sukiyaki at Suki-Ya, KL

Here in the UK, we have a tendency to think of Japanese food in terms of sushi and ramen. However - as covered in my last post - there is much much more to Japanese cuisine than raw fish and noodles. While some of the more interesting dishes haven't fully caught on here (yet), they are definitely popular across the rest of Asia, and I took full advantage of this on my trip to Malaysia.

Sukiyaki (also known as Japanese hotpot) is a delicious DIY-style meal. Perfect for sharing, it consists of a big stew pot filled with stock (sweet, teryaki-esque sukiyaki and salty shabu-shabu are two popular flavours) in which diners cook a variety of vegetables,  dumplings, noodles, and (tastiest of all) slivers of thinly cut meats.

I first sampled the delights of sukiyaki at Suki-Ya in Singapore last year, when my boyfriend and I stumbled across (and into) a branch in the mall near our hotel. We loved it so much we went twice, and were determined to return if we ever got the chance.

Much to our delight, we discovered that there was another Suki-Ya (one of only four branches across Asia) in the Japanese section of the swish Pavilion shopping centre, a mere ten minutes walk from the hotel we had booked for our first night in KL. Unable to resist, we headed there for dinner.

Tokyo Street in the Pavilion Mall, KL

At Suki-Ya, the traditional cooking pot is split down the centre, allowing you to sample two flavours of stock if you wish - we went with sweet sukiyaki and salty shabu-shabu (the other options are miso soup or spicy, vinegary kimuchi). The pot is placed on a hot plate in the centre of the table and diners add vegetables and other ingredients from an impressive 'all you can eat' buffet featuring, among other things, five types of mushrooms, a variety of root vegetables, various forms of cabbage, a range of dumplings (eggy, fishy, and cheesy) and a selection of noodles.

We left the noodles until last (the waiters recommend adding them to the thickened stock at the end of your meal), but piled our plates high with an assortment of the other ingredients, plus a few dipping sauces. The delicate, slender-stemmed mushrooms (huge bunch on top of my plate in the photo below) are my favourite, but I also love the larger, meatier mushrooms: these are especially good in the sukiyaki stock, as they really soak up the sweet flavour. However, neither of us were particularly keen on the fishy or cheesy dumplings (and without English labels, it was a bit of a guessing game to avoid them!) - perhaps these are more of an acquired taste...

Waiters bring round plates of finely sliced meats on request - in Singapore, there was a choice of beef, pork or chicken, while in primarily Muslim KL, lamb was offered in the place of the pork. The beef is the best, in my opinion, needing mere seconds in the bubbling broth to achieve a perfect medium-rare finish. My top tip (as demonstrated by our waiter) is to dip the cooked beef into a dish of raw beaten egg before you eat it...heavenly*!

For a mere RM 29.80 at lunchtime or RM 39.80 at dinner (about £6 and 8 respectively, at the time of writing) you can eat as much as you like, with unlimited servings of meat and vegetables, and top ups of stock if you need them. The only limit is time: tables come in 120 minute slots, although you can purchase more time if you need'd have to have a serious appetite to need it though: with all the soup and vegetables this is an incredibly filling meal!

I really hope the Suki-Ya chain makes its way over to Europe soon: sukiyaki is a fantastically social, hands-on way of eating, something really different from the norm - not to mention delicious - and I think it could be incredibly popular here.

Gratuitous touristy KL photo!

*I know this sounds gross, but it really is delicious! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sen Nin Teppanyaki Grill with my two little brothersx

Teppanyaki is a form of Japanese cuisine in which food is cooked on flat iron griddles while diners look on. In the West, it has evolved into something of a performance art, with spatula-juggling, food-flinging, flame-throwing chefs keeping guests entertained as they eat.

I first visited Sen Nin with my boyfriend earlier this year, a slightly awkward experience as we were the only two people eating from the grill menu - while it was nice to have our own personal chef, it did feel a little intense! However, the food was great, and I knew it would be a great place to come in a large group, or for a family meal. In fact, I can't think of a better way to introduce kids (or fussy eaters) to Japanese food.

Knowing my two youngest brothers would enjoy the interactive element, we returned to Sen Nin a few weeks ago for another go at the teppanyaki grill.

Teppanyaki is a truly involving dining experience, with at least as much emphasis placed on the cooking as on the consumption of the meal. At Sen Nin a crew of friendly (and slightly maniacal!) chefs juggle cooking implements and eggs, laughing all the while, before flinging bits of omelette left right and centre for diners to catch in their open mouths (often unsuccessfully - on our most recent visit the poor woman next to us ended up with at least three chunks of omelette in her cleavage!)

On this occasion we ordered two Fuji Teppanyaki meals and two Samurai Teppanyaki meals. Both menus begin with a warming bowl of miso soup, before moving on to bowls of freshly prepared egg fried rice (bursting with tasty morsels of brighly coloured vegetables), a choice of two meaty mains from a list of four (chicken, tiger prawns, tilapia or calamari for the £18.95 Fuji meal; steak, chicken, salmon or lamb for the £24.95 Samurai meal), and a side of stir-fried vegetables. We opted for king prawn and chicken and steak and chicken respectively, all of which were delicious. Tender chunks of chicken breast were fried with leeks and drenched in sweet, glossy teriyaki sauce, while the king prawns (plump and juicy) were redolent with garlic and melted butter. The steak, served in succulent chunks with slivers of tasty mushroom, was also excellent. Luckily (with two teenage boys in our party), portions are very generous, and my hungry dining companions all seemed to be well satisfied by their meal!

Tasty chicken (partially devoured...)

We also ordered prawn and vegetable tempura and chicken yakitori skewers to share as additional starters. Arriving after our miso soup, these were all very tasty, although the enormous pieces of vegetable tempura were somewhat difficult to navigate with chopsticks - watching my youngest brother attempting to eat a chunk of aubergine the size of a small cod fillet was almost as entertaining as the antics of our chef!

All in all, this was a fun (and tasty) meal - definitely something I'd recommend for families or those in search of a livelier dining experience.

Sen Nin Japanese Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon

Friday, 16 November 2012

Malaysian food diaries: Ais Kacang

This popular Malaysian dessert (also known as Air Batu Campur, or ABC), sounds pretty weird*  when you consider the individual components, but is actually incredibly delicious. Since having my first taste in Bangkok a few years ago, I've always made a point of seeking it out whenever I'm in South-East Asia

A mound of shaved ice is topped with red beans, palm seeds**, creamed sweetcorn, a scoop of ice-cream, and strands of colourful agar and grass jelly, before being drizzled with luridly pink rose syrup (tasting more like strawberry sauce than anything too exotically floral) and a generous amount of sweet condensed milk.

View from Penang Hill

There's nothing better on a hot, sticky day: I had my first Ais Kacang of the trip after a strenuous 90 minute climb to the top of Penang Hill in the midday heat, and the combination of cool ice and intense sugar hit was the perfect restorative.

*from a Western perspective, that is...
**translucent pods with a strange almost rubbery texture - worth a try!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My lunch: Adobo

I'm on holiday in Malaysia at the moment, working my way up the West coast and soaking up a bit of winter sunshine (I'm lying next to the pool as I write this :)). Malaysia is incredibly multi-cultural, with authentic Chinese, Indian, Thai and Japanese dishes readily available alongside the traditional Malaysian cuisine. Three days in, and I've already tried lots of delicious new things, so I should have some interesting posts to put up very soon - until then, I'll clear a bit of the backlog from my draft folder...

Adobo is in Holborn, a bit out of my usual lunchtime foraging range. I happened upon it on my way back from a meeting the other week. It was 2.30pm, a good hour or two past my usual lunch time, and I was absolutely ravenous... Lured in by the gorgeous smell of grilled meats and Mexican spices emanating from the door, I decided to stop for a bite to eat (at this point I needed something a bit more substantial than a simple sandwich!)

Like many similar Mexican venues (Chilango or Poncho 8, for example), Adobo has a build-your-own style menu - you pick your base (burrito, taco, or salad box), and choose between various toppings to create your perfect personalised dish.

I opted for the salad box. On my base of salad leaves I then added a scoop of black beans, a layer of 'fajita' peppers and onions, tasty chunks of grilled chicken, a dollop each of rich, creamy guacamole sour cream and mild tomato salsa, and finally an extra sprinkling of sweet corn salsa (which the nice guy behind the counter threw in for free).

I don't know if my extreme hunger could have influenced my judgement here...but it was SO good. The chicken was fantastic, and the combination of flavours and textures made for an interesting and extremely satisfying lunch. I just wish there was one nearer my office so I could make it a regular thing.

Adobo on Urbanspoon

Friday, 9 November 2012

Back to Burger & Lobster - Big boys and a group reservation

I've already written about Burger & Lobster here, so I won't repeat myself in this post (to sum up: gorgeous lobsters, good value, garlic-lemon butter, YUM).

However, I went to the Soho branch the other week with a larger group, and thought it might be updating my review. Thanks to a reservation system which allows groups of six and above to book in advance, we were able to skip the queues at the door and go straight to our table. For a 6.30pm slot on a Wednesday (they didn't have anything available later on) I had to book three weeks in advance - not too bad given its popularity.

Apparently the new Clerkenwell branch (which opened on St John Street a few weeks ago) also takes reservations, so this should make it easier to get a spot. And with rumours of a fourth venue being opened in the City at some point in the New Year, the days of queuing could soon be a thing of the past.

While our group all opted for grilled lobsters, quite a few people around us were eating burgers. Ignoring the obvious downside of subsidising the lobster-eaters with an over-priced burger, they did look - and smell - very good, and I do want to try one out (as well as the lobster rolls) when I visit the Clerkenwell branch.

Something I didn't notice on my last visit was the fact you can get lobsters in a variety of sizes: the standard 1 1/2lbs £20 offering is (apparently) 'small'; £30 will get you a 2lb 'medium' (although one of our party ordered this, and it didn't seem noticeably larger); or if you're feeling especially flush (and hungry!), you could order something even larger from the catch of the day.

It was a great place for a group meal, and I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the reservation system and going with a larger party. Booking in advance took a lot of the stress away (who doesn't hate waiting hours for their food?) - plus you get to feel like a bit of a VIP when you strut to the front of the queue!

Burger & Lobster on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Slow roast lamb with chickpea and pomegranate salad

Inspired by my meal at Kopapa, I decided to have a go at my own slow-cooked lamb dish. Slathered in a pomegranate molasses marinade, and roasted until it fell from the bone in tender chunks of caramelised meat, this went perfectly with a chickpea and pomegranate dish (roughly based on a recipe from my mother's Moro cookbook) and a refreshing salad of cucumber, pomegranate seeds, fresh coriander and lime juice.

Pomegranate Molasses Lamb


Shoulder of lamb
Pomegranate molasses
Garlic cloves (optional)

Place the lamb in a large dish, and drizzle generously with pomegranate molasses. Massage the molasses into the lamb, using as much as you need to ensure the meat is well coated. If you want to, cut slits into your lamb (this allows the pomegranate molasses to penetrate the meat), and place a clove of peeled garlic into each slit.

Leave your lamb to marinade in the fridge for a few hours, removing 30 minutes or so before cooking in order to bring the meat back to room temperature. Alternatively, if you're strapped for time, you can simply marinade the lamb for 15 minutes while the oven is heating up (this is what I did, and it didn't seem to have a particularly adverse affect on my finished dish!).

Preheat the oven to 150C. Transfer the lamb to a roasting dish, pouring over the pomegranate molasses marinade (and adding more as needed - I think I used about twice as much as was recommended by any recipe...which probably helped make up for my shorter marinading time). Add 100ml or so of water to the roasting tin, and cover with silver foil.

A 1kg joint of lamb should be cooked at 150C for 3 hours. For each additional 500g of meat, extend the cooking time by 20 minutes. [E.g. a 2kg joint would require 3 hours and 40 minutes.]
Remove your lamb from the oven, discarding the silver foil, and pour off any juices into a seperate bowl. Other recipes recommend that you leave the juices to cool for half an hour before skimming off any fat, and returning them to the roasting tin.

If you don't want to wait for half an hour, you can do what I did: pour off any grease (and remove any large chunks of fat from the surface of your lamb). Then add more pomegranate molasses and a dash more water to the roasting tin, before returning the lamb (uncovered this time) to the oven.

Turn the temperature up to 190C, and cook until the meat is nicely caramelised (around 30 minutes). Upon removing the lamb from the oven, stand for a few minutes to cool, before tearing into rough chunks with two forks (OK, or your fingers), and serving.

Chickpea and pomegranate salad


250 grams dried chickpeas
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
200 ml boiling water
One chicken stock cube (optional)
A few threads of saffron, infused in boiling water (according to instructions on packet)
Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Begin the day before, by soaking the chickpeas overnight in cold water. (If you don't have time to do this, you can always used canned chickpeas, but the dried ones are much nicer!). Rinse thoroughly, and prepare according to the instructions on the packet - I boiled mine for about an hour and a half, until tender.

Infuse a few strands of saffron in a tea cup with some boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and briefly fry the sliced garlic* before adding the drained chickpeas and pomegranate molasses. Add the 200ml of boiling water, the stock cube (if using - this isn't in the original recipe, but I think it adds flavour) and the saffron-infused water to your pan, and simmer gently for ten minutes or so, until you are left with just a small amount of flavourful sauce.

Use the ten minutes cooking time to de-seed your pomegranate. This is my least favourite part of the cooking process - not only is it quite time consuming, but I am incapable of extracting the seeds without covering myself (and everything else in my kitchen) with brightly-coloured juice**.

Cucumber and pomegranate salad


1 cucumber
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Squeeze of lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the cucumber into two lengthways and use a dessert spoon to scoop out the juicy seeded centre. Discard (or eat...) as this will make your salad too watery. Roughly dice the remaining cucumber, and place the chunks into a bowl. Add the seeds of half a pomegranate (more tedious de-seeding required!), the juice of one small lime, and chopped fresh coriander. Season to taste, and serve.

Serve the three dishes together, alongside a pile of flatbreads or toasted pittas and an assortment of dips (hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki...) for an impressive Middle Eastern feast.

*Be careful not to let your garlic get too brown, as it will develop an unpleasant acrid taste.
**I've actually started de-seeding pomegranates in my underwear - not because I am some sort of sensual domestic goddess, a la Nigella...but because I've ruined too many tops with spatters of pomegranate juice.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Needoo good as Tayyabs?

Tayyabs is my favourite Indian restaurant in London - I've been more times than I can count and despite invaribaly leaving painfully full and stinking of curry and frying meat, I don't seem to be able to keep away. However, sometimes it's nice to try something new...Just around the corner, Needoo Grill is run by a former manager of the Tayyabs enterprise, and having heard rumours that the food is just as good, I happily tagged along when my boyfriend's team headed there for a blow-out meal.

As with Tayyabs, the tandoori starters are king, and our table made the compulsory over-sized order of sizzling lamb chops (seriously, if you're not going to order these, just don't even bother - that goes for Tayyabs and Lahore too). If anything I thought the lamb chops were even better than Tayyabs - they were slightly thinner, which I preferred, although some members of the party disagreed. In any case, they were excellent: deliciously spiced lamb (flavourful rather than excessively hot), to be torn from the bone, caveman style. Greasy hands and face are an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence...

I managed four - the boys outdid me and managed to amass towering piles of six or seven bones on their plates (by the end of our meal, the table looked like the elephant graveyard in the Lion King). Alongside the lamb, we devoured big tender chunks of succulent chicken tikka, wands of spicy shish kebab and piles of sweet, buttery peshwari naan. This is my favourite type of naan, and the tandoori restaurants in this area (Tayyabs, Lahore, and as I discovered, Needoo Grill) seem to do it better than anywhere else. Slimmer than usual (avoiding the overwhelming doughiness you sometimes get), these slender discs are filled with a crumbling golden coconut mixture and topped with melted butter and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. There were garlic naans too, but with peshwari as good as this, why bother?
We also ordered a few curries for good measure. As with Tayyabs, the choice is a bit limited compared with some other Indian restaurants: the tandoori starters are definitely the focus, with the curries serving as more of a side note. The menu is similar, featuring the same basic list of karahi dishes, a selection of daily specials (ranging from king prawn biryani to lamb korma) and a few old favourites (butter chicken, lamb tikka masala...) on the "Needoo Special Dishes" menu to please our English taste-buds!

Despite ordering an obscene amount of food, the bill came in at just over £15 a head (it's BYOB, so that doesn't include alcoholic drinks - but still, exceptionally good value for London). Needoo Grill is similar to Tayabbs in this respect.

A less welcome similarity is the difficulty you can experience in getting a table - you definitely need to book at both places if you don't want to queue (Note: neither take bookings on the day, so some advance planning is needed). True story - I once went to Tayyabs with a big group of grads from work once and waited two hours for a table. BYOB has its advantages, as we treated the queue as a standing bar...but still, it was a long time to wait (although, yes, it was worth it!). Even reserving in advance just means you get the first free table (they don't hold empty spaces), and we had to wait 10 or 15 mins to be seated on this trip to Needoo Grill.

Aside from the queues, the other downside of a meal at Tayyabs or Needoo Grill is that (unless you have the constituion of a lion), you are likely to feel ill for a full 24 hours after the meal. Meat and spice sweats during the night, indigestion, and the inability to cram any other item of food into your overloaded stomach for most of the next day are all common symptoms of the "tandoori hangover". The unpleasant side effects of too much red meat, beer, and curry mean this is a once in a while treat for me (I need some time to forget the after-effects!), although I know plenty of boys who seem to go to one of these places almost weekly...
For the sake of fairness, I'll try and do a proper review of Tayyabs (and Lahore) at some point in the future. As a quick overview though, I would say:
  • Food is similarly good (and prices similarly low...)at all three places
  • Lahore lacks the atmosphere of the other two joints (you feel a bit like you're dining in a school cafeteria), but is easier to get a table
  • Needoo Grill manages to find a good balance between 'atmospheric' and modern. You still feel like you're getting a traditional tandoori experience (a la Tayyabs), but with more space, slightly better decor and less general 'stinkiness' (wear a suit to Tayyabs and you'll have to get it dry-cleaned...after a meal at Needoo Grill you may get away with just airing it out overnight...)
Needoo Grill on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

Monday, 5 November 2012

Brunch at Workshop Coffee Co.

Workshop Coffee Co. (formerly St Ali) on Clerkenwell Road is one of a growing number of Antipodean-run cafes with a reputation for serving fantastic coffee. Having heard rumours that it also does a mean brunch, my boyfriend and I decided to go check it out last weekend.

The brunch menu is excellent - although perhaps leaning towards the pricey end of things - and features some innovative dishes which I will definitely be going back to try (such as the braised beans with salted ricotta, lemon and truffled marscapone - yum!).

There are a couple of decent healthy options too: apple bircher muesli with strawberries, labna, and pumpkin seeds sounds delicious; while mango, pineapple and strawberry fruit salad is sexed-up with the addition of minted yoghurt and granola. And for those with a sweet tooth, the toasted banana bread (with date and orange jam, expresso marscapone, and hazelnuts) or the french toast with rhubarb compote and orange marscapone would both make a welcome change from Danish pastries or pancakes.

This time, we both opted for the 'make your own'-style cooked breakfast. This consists of two eggs (poached, scrambled or fried) served with sourdough toast, tomato kasundi (a spicy Indian tomato relish), and a choice of sides from a selection ranging from from halloumi and chorizo to kipper and black pudding.

We both went for poached eggs and a portion of dry-cured bacon; I chose thyme-roasted mushrooms as an additional side, while my boyfriend ordered the grilled halloumi. Our eggs were perfectly poached (although with a residual vinegariness to the whites which was not altogether pleasant...), with sunset orange yolks that oozed seductively onto the thick wedges of buttered sourdough toast. The dry-cured bacon was sweet and smoky, pairing excellently with the tangy tomato ksundi, and my mushrooms (dark and glossy) had a lovely nutty flavour overlaid with a pleasant hint of thyme.

One stab with a fork and the yolk oooozed out onto the toast...mmmm

With service, the meal (eggs and toast, two sides each, one tea, one orange juice) came to £34 - so (as I mentioned above) it was pretty expensive. However, I suppose prices are pretty much in line with similar venues (such as the nearby Caravan) and the cool atmosphere (stripped back, warehouse chic) and good location means there are still queues out of the door if you arrive too late.

I drank tea alongside my breakfast, but as we were leaving decided to order a latte to go. It was genuinely one of the best coffees I've had in London (if not the best) - making Workshop Coffee Co. an ideal spot for coffee-lovers as well as foodies.

Tea? Don't be silly, get a coffee!

*With Lantana, Caravan, Flat White, and Kaffeine all serving up tasty cups of Joe 'down-under'-syle
Square MealWorkshop Coffee Co on Urbanspoon