Breakfast in Bread at The Barge House

If you’re looking for an Instagrammable Sunday brunch, then you’ll want to hit up The Barge House in East London. You’ll find it on the Regent’s Canal between Hoxton and Haggerston set in an old Victorian warehouse – all of which are now either places to grab a bite to eat, craft breweries or design studios. The place is decked out fairy lights which cover their floor-to-ceiling windows, with tables along the waterside and a minimalist dining room and an open-plan kitchen.

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Their Breakfast in Bread brunch menu is exactly what it says on the tin – a hollowed-out sourdough loaf packed full with traditional breakfast fare. There are a couple of options to choose from… the original is your standard full English complete with slow-roast tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, leeks, Cumberland sausage, spinach, bacon with an egg. Or you can grab yourself a vegetarian version which comes with avocado, spinach and asparagus.

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Whilst there’s limited choice for veggies, and no vegan options, they do try to source all their produce as ethically as possible. All their eggs are free-range and their sourdough loaves are baked just around the corner at the Better Health Bakery – an artisan bakery who provide trainee placements for adults recovering from mental illness.

I opted for the smoked salmon bread bowl. It’s filled with spinach, leeks, smoked salmon, creme fraiche and topped with an egg and a sprinkle of cheese. It’s a food coma in waiting.

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The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Cres, London, N1 5RY

Main photo courtesy of The Barge House

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Season | Finsbury Park

Season. This restaurant in Finsbury Park is as simple as the name suggests. It tries to only use ingredients that are in season and can be sourced within the United Kingdom, so the small menu changes every couple of months.

I’ve started to gain a real affinity with Finsbury Park. It’s got everything a girl could need; from my favourite brunch spot, Fink’s Salt and Sweet, to Clapton Craft, a shop which sells craft beer, and now Season.

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We visited Season as a family in July for my birthday (and I’m well aware it’s now late September and the menu has definitely changed since I visited. Check their social media for their most current menu). Expect modern British fare, served in a compact dining room lit by candles.

As soon as we were seated, we were brought complementary baked bread and bottles of water, both sparkling and still – something I’m a big fan of.

The menu is short but what they do, they do exceptionally well. I ordered the duck leg to start which was served with a watercress and orange salad. A classic combo.

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I also tried some of the bone marrow topped on sourdough toast. It was probably a bit too salty for my taste, but my brother and dad raved about it.

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I couldn’t help but order the mussels for my main, they arrived piled high and in a white wine sauce. I opted for a side of wedges and French peas. The potatoes were crisp and the perfect accompaniment to dunk in my sauce.

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My dad and sister’s boyfriend feasted on the lamb which was cooked to perfection and served with crispy pieces of onions.

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Whereas my mum and sister dinned on the halibut which was simply accompanied by some grilled spring onions and a salsa.

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Because no birthday celebration is complete without dessert, I opted for the chocolate rosemary pot. It was incredibly indulgent and rich, and if you have a sweet tooth you won’t want to share this pudding.

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And because they’re decent people, Season’s doesn’t charge you £20 for one dish. It’s all reasonably priced and the portions are modest. Plus they have a no markup policy on booze, so all the wine is charged at cost…If that doesn’t incentivise you to go here, I don’t know what will.

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Season, 53 Stroud Green Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 3EF, UK

Afternoon Tea at Sketch Gallery

Afternoon tea is such a quintessential British tradition and it’s one I often link with tea rooms in the countryside complete with dainty china and holding your pinky up. To me, afternoon tea is a treat – and as much as I dine out, I rarely spend a lot of time eating small sandwiches and sipping champagne. So when I do indulge, I want the experience to be something special and different to the norm – and Sketch does just that.

It’s set back from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, the restaurant is located in a beautiful Mayfair townhouse. As you enter through the front doors you’re met by a game of hopscotch on the floor and ladies wearing pastel pink dresses.

We were guided into the gallery,  and it was every bit as magical and pink as the photos I’d seen online. Scalloped, dusty pink velvet booths are dotted throughout the room and playful, witty art works by David Shrigley deliberately contrast the sugar-coated pastel interior. The place settings are also designed by David Shrigley too, with salt and pepper shakers labelled ‘dust’ and ‘dirt’.

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I took Serena here for her birthday, so naturally, we opted for the champagne afternoon tea – which is poured overhead.

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From matcha to your classic breakfast tea, Sketch boasts a 40-strong selection. I opted for a chai tea which was served alongside our eggs and soldiers.

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A dinky and delicate starter which consists of a spoon of rich, creamy caviar, served with an egg yolk nestled on top on an ‘egg white’ made from cheese.

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Next, a tower formed of three layers of food was brought to the table (which can be refilled when you run out).

The first tier consisted of sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber, coronation chicken and egg. The next layer was littered with small patisseries, tarts and cakes. Followed by the final tier of marshmallows and cheesecake.

All the elements that formed the tower had a modern and creative twist; the cucumber sandwich came topped with a quails egg.

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As we were wolfing down our finger sandwiches and mini cakes, we were brought warm scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Delicious.

After eating we went to explore as the whole building is unique and each room is is like stepping into another world. Make sure you take a trip to the toilets, where each loo is basically an egg pod, (if you’re an Instagram addict like me, you’ve probably seen many photos of these toilets before).

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Now Sketch is an expensive treat, and it’s not somewhere I could afford to eat at regularly but for a birthday treat for one of my best friends, it was the perfect place.

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Sketch, 9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG

Main photo courtesy of Sketch 

 

 

 

 

East London Liquor Company

A few weeks back (and when I say a few, I mean two months ago), my family and I took a trip up to Mile End, to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary. They moved to London 35 years ago and originally lived in Hackney, so they were keen to go back to see how much the area has changed.

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We decided to hit up East London Liquor Company, a gin and vodka distillery in East London with a bottle shop and restaurant. You’ll find it just south of Vicky Park next to the canal. It’s a well-kept secret (there’s no signage) and it’s just simply decorated with reclaimed brick walls and salvaged trestle tables – the shimmering copper distillers behind the bar do all the talking here.

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It was a beautiful golden afternoon and after being crammed on a sweltering hot central line tube, all I could think about was that gin and tonic waiting for me at the end of my journey. They boast an incredible stash of bottled spirits (and you can book into distillery tours) but if you’d rather a cold beer (like my brother) they’ve got it by the bucketful.

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If you need something to soak up the booze, they’ve got an on-site restaurant which is influenced by Italian cuisine, complete with a pizza oven and array of sharing plates. We dived into the sharing plates and each ordered our favourite thing on the menu to divide between the four of us: prosciutto & ricotta wrapped grissini, zucchini tagliatelle, artichoke & fennel Salad, and burrata served with nettles.

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I’ll definitely start incorporating the prosciutto and ricotta wrapped grissini into my dinner parties, such a simple snack but one that is incredibly tasty.

The other highlight was the zucchini tagliatelle, it was so light and was served with a dollop of parmesan cheese on top. If you ever find yourself at The East London Liquor Company and fancy a snack to accompany your drinks, get this.

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And if you’re anything like my family, a couple of sharing plates isn’t enough, and thankfully their pizza oven comes to the rescue when feeding the Boasts. Order the ricotta stuffed crust, which is topped with tomato, salami, parmesan and rocket.

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East London Liquor CompanyUnit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London, E3 5SN

*Main photo courtesy of East London Liquor Company

 

Peruvian small plates at Chicama

The name of this Chelsea restaurant originates from a coastal town in Peru, which is fitting considering that the menu is completely centred on seafood. I first heard of Chicama whilst reading Time Out Magazine on the tube and I immediately wanted to visit. The name was added to my long list of places I want to eat in and ultimately forgotten about, until now.

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I rarely venture to Chelsea, I work in the City so it’s easy to pop to Shoreditch or Soho to meet pals or back up home, in North London. A few weeks ago I found myself in West London as I was headed to The Bletchley (a spy-themed cocktail bar), and needed somewhere quick to grab a bite.

The interior could have been lifted straight out of a Wes Anderson film and placed into Chelsea. A marble top bar divides the open kitchen and dining area with dusky pink velvet seating, illuminated by lamps which hang from the ceiling.

We were seated at the bar, overlooking the kitchen, and started the long process of trying to decide what to order…

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The idea is to order 2-4 dishes each and share, and I’d note that it’s not very cheap, but their food is a knockout. The flavours are fresh with bold Peruvian spices, marinades and sauces. From the selection of small plates, we ordered the salmon ceviche which was served with grapefruit and pickled onion. Potentially my favourite dish of the evening, the little cubes of fish were perfectly sized and was beautifully complemented by the citrusy spicy sauce it was served in.

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In a bid to get in some greens, we ordered the vegetable ceviche, half of the veg was served raw and the other half was cooked. My favourite element of the dish was the asparagus which was served battered.

There’s a selection of fish on offer which is done over the charcoal grill (and grilled seafood always takes me back to seaside dining with my family so I couldn’t resist). We opted for the sea bass, the quality of the fish was gorgeous and was cooked to perfection, as it flaked off fabulously off the bone. We also ordered a side of the avocado jalapeño sauce, which was so smooth and perfectly completed the fish.

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It’s a shame we didn’t have time to eat more as we were rushing to make it to The Bletchley on time. I’m dying to try the tapioca marshmallows (deep-fried fish cubes with parmesan)… so I guess I have to add Chicama back onto my list of places that I want to eat in.

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Chicama, 383 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LP

 

A healthy foodie subscription box | Lifebox

There’s been very few subscription boxes which actually appeal to me. The ones I’ve seen tend to be based on makeup and skincare, and whilst I love my Urban Decay eye-shadow pallets, I’m the kind of girls who’s bedtime routine consists of a face wipe.

However… last month I discovered LifeBox. A subsumption box service for healthy foodies and I couldn’t resist trying it out. Each month you get sent a box full of supplements, bars, drinks, superfoods, powders, and more. Each box can be tailed to your needs: everyday wellness (GF&V), women’s health, men’s health, junior, mini and even the occasional holiday box .

It’s the perfect way to try out new foods and discover new brands without having to buy full-sized, multi-packs of something you may not even like. It arrives in the post in a white box with the LifeBox logo printed on top and the products are wrapped in paper which is tied up in a cute ribbon. Receiving your box is truly a special occasion and I loved the feeling of receiving a box of food (who wouldn’t?!)

I opted for the women’s health box which in addition to be packed full of products, comes recipe suggestions and workouts. It was exciting to see products from both established brands and ones I’ve never heard of before. A firm favourite from last month’s box was the granola from Husk and Honey. Their spiced mulberry flavour is perfect sprinkled over greek yoghurt.

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Whilst their boxes range for £15-£23, they are worth forking out for as in my February box I received…

  • A packet of hemp seeds by Linwoods
  • A granola bar from Kind
  • Four packets of tea from T Plus
  • A pot of pistachio nut butter by Nutural World
  • A sashay of birthday bake almond butter by Buff Bake
  • Cabbage chips by The Beginnings
  • A packet of superblends by Be.
  • A bag of salted caramel pecks by Inspiralled
  • Cocoa nib chocolate from IQ Chocolate
  • A rude healh almond drink
  • A packet of Chia seeds by Lifebox
  • Protein bites by Saf raw
  • A packet of chai turmeric blend by Wunder Workshop
  • A protein bar from The Primal Pantry
  • And of course, a packet of granola by Husk and Honey

I now consider myself a subscription box covert and I’m so glad I came across LifeBox, in my opinion there’s nothing else of the market quite like it!

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Oodles of Noodles at Bone Daddies

Ramen, it’s basically soup on  steroids. And ramen bars in London are 10 a penny with Bone Daddies spawning like rabbits. It’s a unstoppable trend and I for one am welcoming with open arms. Sometimes all you need is a huge, comforting bowl of soup filled to the brim with noodles, a delicious homemade broth and topped with a tender joint of meat.

Bone Daddies are the type of place which plays old school rock ‘n’ roll whilst you slurp on oodles of noodles. I headed to their outpost in Old Street with a couple of girl friends after work one evening. It’s got a killer vibe; the decor is sleek and diners sit along high communal tables.

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Pots of the usual ramen accompaniments litter the tables – garlic, sesame seeds, vinegar and chilli paste. Oh, and there’s also the not so usual like a jar crammed full of hairbands and plastic bibs. How thoughtful, because to really enjoy the sexy bowls of ramen that Bone Daddies serve, you need to slurp.

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I dived into the Tonkotsu ramen  and the broth used is made by extracting pork essence for over 20 hours. It also comes with pork belly, thin noodles, spring onions, bamboo, beansprouts and an soy egg. A word of advice? Only come here on an empty stomach.

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That said, I couldn’t resist some mochi, which are tiny mounds of ice-cream with a shell of rice flour. We opted for a selection of salted caramel, banana, chocolate and green tea. The majority of these little balls were too sweet for my taste, but I thoroughly enjoyed the flavour which was packed in the green tea mochi – it had that bitter matcha taste which I adore.

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Bone Daddies, The Bower, 211 Old St, London EC1V 9NV