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‘Breakfast’ Category

  1. Bea’s @ Maltby Street

    May 26, 2012 by Dini

    Saturday Sugar Rush

    Bea’s is a ’boutique’ chain of cake, come sweet things eateries, with 3 outlets in London and Maltby St, serving up Saturday fayre. Cupcakes aren’t really my thing and even Bea’s didn’t capture my imagination, so I was looking for something different. Hence, when I heard Maltby St regulars not only regaling about St Johns doughnuts, but Bea’s breakfasts’ too, I was intrigued to find out more…

    Beas signage

    Housed in a railway bridge arch, close to London Bridge, it’s quite a unique location. On Saturday’s, Bea usually shares the space with Rachel McCormack (supremo of all things Catalan), lends the space on Sundays to @Roast_Sunday and has just started up Tuesday film nights.  Bea’s ethos for a small business is a noble one, ensuring good quality, locally sourced ingredients, waste food is composted and using energy efficient induction cooking methods. I especially like the fact, that she has a summer rooftop garden for a fresh and direct  supply of herbs and vegetables – nothing like growing your own!

    The Arch

    Having gorged on a delicious St Johns doughut, that sweet fix was only the beginning, as thankfully at 10.30am there was no queue at Bea’s. Our gaggle of food bloggers hit the benches to start a sumptuous breakfast banquet, of calories and delight. I guess one could say we took over the joint, with our over-zealous photography (via smart-phone, SLR’s and compact cameras) and re-arrangement of the benches to accomodate our table of twelve (by the end, as the ‘food-loving twitterverse’, started to join us). Sorry Bea, for creating a little bit of chaos, but at least we ate with happy hearts.
    A simple offering of breakfast classics were on the offing, so the six original diners, ordered one of each, so we could have a biteful and pass it on, trying everything and not wanting for anything. Sometimes, especially in a new restaurant, I suffer from pangs of food envy, but thankfully I’m always with someone who’ll allow me a bite and vice-versa. This option of filling the table and creating our own human lazy-susan, suited me to a tee.
    Breakfast dishes
    Our selection: American style pancakes (plain or with blueberries) – we opted for cream and a side of bacon, French toast with sides of caramelised banana and walnuts and macerated strawberries and eggs benedict. This was quite an order, but could be forgiven as eventually shared between eight of us!
    Pancakes & cream
    My favourite, was the simplest of all the plain pancakes, drizzled with copious amounts of maple syrup and with the cream and bacon. Real comfort eating, that hits the spot. I loved the accompanying sides with the French toast, great textural contrasts, but with such a generous wedge of brioche, I preffered the lighter and fluffier pancakes. I have to say the portion size is really generous (the split bill costing us £8 each including a drink), so the portion could easily be shared between two, if you don’t have a healthy appetite.
    If there’s ever a queue for the Arch or you haven’t the time to dine in, Bea has created her own empire at Maltby Street, around the corner you can find her husband Franz, running a delicious Austrian stall with regional cheeses and cooked treats.
    Cheese dumplings with sides

    On offer were cheese dumplings, with poatoes/salad – I sampled a dumpling and they were deliciously crispy on the exterior and oozing with a cheese filling. The strudel also looked divine, dusted in a plentiful amount of icing sugar, something to try for next time. I asked him if he’d be doing another Austrian supperclub, as he had done last year (as I’d heard such good things about it), alas no. However he did let slip that they’ve just bought a food truck, so he’ll be hitting Eat Street (Kings Cross), with his Austrian fayre – a great addition, to the mix.

    For the sweet toothed, theres’s also a cake stall, selling her signature cakes and treats. Always decadently merchandised to entice and ensure that you take home at least one item for later.
    After lazily exploring the rest of Maltby Street, we saw on twitter that Bea was trialling her new range of ice-lollies. So we made a four o’clock pitt-stop, to investigate. On offer were a range of sublime ice-cream and sorbet styles.
    Lolly galore
    Flavours included: coffee, Pimms & lemonade, ginger & raspberries and strawbeeries & cream. My favourite was probably the sweet ginger one, using a stem ginger syrup, it was powerfully zingy but mellowed out by the tart raspberries. I submitted my ice-lolly cart naming suggestions of “Torvill & Cream” and “Ice, Ice, Baby”, the week before on Bea’s twitter request, so we’ll see what she eventually names it!
    Quite a foodie extravaganza catered by Bea, Franz and Crew, and worthwhile trying, if you fancy relaxing with friends, for a simple brunch or tea-time treat.
     
    Timings: Saturdays 9/10am – until it’s all gone! (around 2pm ish)
    Address: Bea’s of Bloomsbury at Maltby Street Market, Arch 76, Druid Street, London, SE1 2HQ
    Website: http://www.beasofbloomsbury.com/maltbystreet

  2. Eat Scandi

    April 6, 2012 by Dini

    Gravadlax

    The ‘Scandilicious’ Way

     

    Signe Johansen, otherwise known as ‘Scandilicious’ on twitter and her eponymous first cookbook, hosted a Scandinavian Smörgåsbord feast, fit for the most ardent of carb-lovers. Held at the spacious Holloway apartment of @chuchibum (Hannah, co-host), once the guests started eating, we simply didn’t stop being spoilt with treats, constantly flowing from the kitchen. This was the first brunch held in March, I didn’t mind this, as Signe’s excellent baking reputation proceeded her and she rolled out a stellar performance.

    The table was dressed with single flower heads and rhubarb stems in vases. I especially liked the cute jug, inscribed with  ‘modestly small jug’ and the wall hanging ‘keep calm and keep kissing’. All comforting touches, in addition to our hosts’ warm welcomes and hospitality, to put diners at ease.

    Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary

    On arrival, we were treated to an aperitif of a ‘Scandi’ Bloody Mary (I opted for the boozy variety, made with Aquavit, tomato juice and spiced up with horseradish and dill). The table was decorated with savoury muffins, deliciously soft and moreish.

    Jarlsberg & Fennel Muffin

    Jarlsberg & Fennel Muffin

    This was washed down with the rather virtuous ‘Green Goddess’, a cucumber, mint, ginger and apple juice concoction. A pretty zingy and cleansing combination.

    Green Goddess

    Green Goddess

    Next arrived, homemade yoghurt with sweet n’ crispy rye granola.

    I couldn’t resist but add Signe’s Queen’s compote (a blueberry and raspberry jammy mix) making a ribboned swirl.

    Queen's Compote

    Queen's Compote

    This was a medley of textures and taste, soured yoghurt, crunchy nuggets of sweetened granola and sticky compote.

    Having the choice between cardamom and cinnamon and cardamom buns, my favourite were the latter. I thought the combined spices worked well together. These were delicious by themselves or smothered in the Queen’s compote.

    Cinnamon & Cardamom buns

    Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns

    Next up, was another refreshment, a divine smoothie made with: raspberry, vanilla, ginger, blended with peanut butter. This was so delicious, fruity with a creamy, nutty edge from the peanut butter.

    Smoothie

    Smoothie

    To the main event: Gravadlax. Juicy morsels of sliced salmon, dressed with dill, in a sweet and salty cure.

    Gravadlax & Celariac

    Gravadlax & Celariac

    Signe served the salmon with baked celeriac crowns, with a Halen Mon smoked sea salt crust. This was a completely new way of eating celeriac for me, I’d have never have thought of salting and eating the crust. The celariac was quite starchy, so great to have the silky contrast of salmon and hardened salt crust of it’s skin.

    There were also Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbreads, laiden in beautiful biscuit tins, to drape salmon on. Being resourecful, even the circular discs of the crispbreads were utilised, dressed with dill and a dash of Norwegian Kaviar (creamed, smoked cod roe).

    Norwegian Kaviar on crispbread

    Norwegian Kaviar on crispbread

    More vibrant colours were added to the mix, with an end-of-winter salad, featuring golden and purple beetroot, dressed in a delicious vinegarette, using Womersley Foods’ raspberry vinegar.

    End-Of-Winter Salad

    End-Of-Winter Salad

    All was not over, out rolled some freshly made oatmeal bread, soft and just beckoned to be smothered in butter.

    Oatmeal bread

    Oatmeal bread

    This came in handy to dunk into my baked eggs, seasoned with allspice and Abba anchovies.

    Split Baked Eggs & Buttered Bread

    Split Baked Eggs & Buttered Bread

    Next up were some Norwegian vanilla & sour cream waffles, this was served with poached rhubard in blood orange syrup. Very sweetly heart shaped waffles, that were light as a feather and contrasted with the tart and sticky rhubarb.

    Waffle & Rhubarb Compote

    Waffle & Rhubarb Compote

    Our penultimate item, was a freshly fried cardamom doughnut, a light and billowy fried treat. This was washed down with a choice of coffee from Square Mile or Tea’s from RareTea Company.

    As a surprise finale, Signe presented us with some brownies (the recipe from her forthcoming book, Scandilicious Baking). They were velvety soft, rich with dark chocolate and a gooey centre.

    Brownies

    Brownies

     

    I can’t say enough to say how good this brunch was. Reminding me of familiar Scandi favourites as well as a few new twists that I can try at home. Signe has a few more brunches and dinners pencilled in and there are some baking classes in the pipeline too. Thanks to both Signe & Hannah, they were devoted to producing a stunning array of delicious food and drink and were consummate hosts.

    If you’re going to go along, I recommend skipping breakfast or lunch, you’re going to need all the belly space you can make. I’m a carb-aholic, so loved the different buns and breads but with the generosity of food provided needed a caffeine kick at the end to get me moving again from my food-coma and definately didn’t need dinner!

    For details on these, please check out Signe’s Scandilicious blog: www.signejohansen.com

     

     


  3. Breakfast at Cecconi’s

    February 17, 2012 by Dini

     Self-Service Breakfast

    15th February 2012

    Cecconi’s in the heart of Mayfair, is all about old school glamour, the decor swathed in jade green, the place smells of money.

    Cecconi's dining room

    I’ve known it for years, as a modern Italian for ‘City Slickers’ and it seems the Men who make suits too, as I spotted Ozwald Boateng at the bar. I expected pure class on the delivery and I was slightly dejected, by what I received…

    I had no reservation, but at 10.30am with only a few tables occupied, I thought I’d be safe for a walk-in, table for two. On arrival, Front of House informed me that I’d need to free my table in a hour’s time, to allow them to prepare for the Lunch service. This request was overturned by our kinder Waiter, who informed us that we could retain the table until midday and that he’d work around us. This was more accomodating to hear, imagine how many may have just walked out at the door?

    When we had service it was slick, professional and courteous. However, there were long periods of nothing. In fact, my dining companion had to walk to the bar to both place our order and also request the bill. We were dining during a lull period, however there were plenty of Waiting staff on-site, busily prepping and attending their changeover of service briefing. I was reassured by my dining companion, that this was not at all usual, and it was usually the height of sophistication.

    Onto the food…

    We’d already had a Latte and Espresso to wet the appetite, so I ordered a duck egg, hash brown & black truffle (£11), whilst my guest had the classic, Eggs Benedict (£10). A tad extravagent on my part, but excused as it was  my birthday! The eggs were Burford brown, with a delicious, rich, orange yolk. When served to table, the fried egg was nestled on top of the hash brown, but there was no truffle to be seen. I was reassured it was on it’s way, the Maitre d’ appeared to shave the truffle onto my egg, a nice bit of ‘theatre’.

    Duck egg, hash, truffle

    This was accompanied by brown toast, but to my disdain, no butter arrived and we really couldn’t be asked, to get up to ask for that too. The complimentary juice (options of orange or grapefruit) didn’t appear, until we requested them either. When I requested an alternative (as I was allergic), I wasn’t offered another juice variety. So I myself asked for water, as we hadn’t even had our water glasses filled yet. Of course, I was given the option for chargeable ‘still or sparkling’ water, so I declined and opted for ‘tap’.

    Alas, the cumulative mishaps, left me a little weary. Ordinarily I’d have complained, but as it was my birthday, I didn’t fancy the fuss. Had I also not had the table-turning ‘threat’ at the outset, I may have been more inclined to splash out on Champagne to celebrate or further courses, but when one has such treatment, I’m not in favour of increasing my spend per head, for the restaurant’s benefit.

    This is supposedly a class-act, when paying Mayfair prices, I do hope they don’t treat others in this manner? Perhaps, I’m being pedantic, I am what I am. With such a reputation, the restaurant should stand up and deliver, especially under their Soho House helm.

     
    Cecconi’s: 5A Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, W1S 3EP
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7434 1500
    Website: http://www.cecconis.co.uk/
     
     

     

     

     

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