For when is there a better time than the first working day of the new year to introduce more ways to heartlessly abandon diets and money saving resolutions… Here’s my five favourites from the East/North corner, stay tuned for more as I valiantly invade other post codes! Also, for other food/drink recommendations in the city, I’ve pinned them in a fail-safe map here.
Nevermind the general disneyfied approach to American dining, if you’re craving fluffy, syrupy, stacked pancakes with blueberry garnishing that border on jam, try The Diner. Shuffle into a booth, order a plate of pancakes and a mug of filter coffee, gobble it all up – chunk by chunk, pay, shuffle out the booth, and leave. Don’t expect ambiance, and for sure don’t make it a date spot, but DO consider the lush milkshake menu, and do try that thing where you semi-yell at the waitress for a refill. Like in the movies, yes.
Perched on the first floor of a nondescript, East London warehouse building, the only hint that Bistroteque is, in fact, there, is the sound of cutlery clinking over a soft piano tune leaking out from the top windows. The interior is bright, by way of white ‘subway’ tiles, and painted brick that spans one massive room – with an oval bar by the entrance where walk-ins are seated. (read: book for table if bringing motley crew) The brunch menu offering is classic and simple, European portions, pancakes on the fluffier-than-normal side… but if you’re anything like me skip out on all that and go straight for a virgin Bloody Mary. Or not virgin, whatever you like. It fills you up (considering the price, it had better), and you’re set for a couple of hours before actual lunch. Do sit at the bar and watch the bartenders bustle around making drinks, especially the one that looks like Johnny Depp.
One of my new favourites in the East, this is American dining with ambiance and character. Technically a brasserie, and technically not even American – although being housed in Ace Hotel doesn’t help shake facts off – the eating experience is pleasant with swift service by friendly staff. I personally love the fact that they walk around with two jugs of coffee, one filter and the other decaf, although given that this is England I should suspect it could be tea… The menu is printed on newspaper in beautiful typography, which I also adore. Ask for the booth next to the window of Hattie Fox’s florist, which is in fact the official entrance of the restaurant, it casts a rather lovely, soft glowing light. For breakfast, I recommend the Hot set breakfast if not very tight on budget, if not, the Eggy bread with berries and Mascarpone. The balance of wet and dry is perfect on that one.
If there’s one manky old onion in my fridge for three weeks in a row Ivy’s Mess Hall is one of the reasons why. It being a local cafe/restaurant that Charlie and I frequent on the weekends, and also the fact that it’s 10 minutes closer to home than the closest supermarket means every weekend I am sidetracked to slip into Ivy’s and order a scrambled eggs on toast with three extra sides (roasted baby tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, bacon). I come home with crumbs on my sweater and hubby yells NOT AGAIN. It’s now a weekly routine. The atmosphere is homey, (I guess I’m now officially a hipster to consider stripped walls and bare-bulb lighting as ‘homey’) and in the summer eating under a canopy on the most Turkish part of Kingsland Road proves to be quite an interesting experience.
A lot more up-market for a casual brekkie, but one that definitely falls under ‘treats’. The floor tiles and the sole lemon tree at the entrance, for one, but the Lee Valley Mushrooms on Toast with Melted Taleggio & Mixed Leaves (not pictured) makes for a great hearty start to a day. A bit mumsy too (clean interiors, a whole wall of wine, buggy-friendly table spacing), as the general fate of Church Street is seemingly heading, and the prices reflect on this. But like I said, falls under ‘treat’, especially after a power-walk with ice-cream in Clissold park.