Brunch at Bristrotheque

Is there anything more quintessentially East London than having brunch in a converted warehouse?

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Enter Bistrotechque – a restaurant in a converted warehouse hidden away in Dalston.

You’ll probably find yourself checking Google Maps, wondering if you’ve gone wrong along the way, and questioning all the endless rows of old warehouses and houses without a hint of ‘there’s a restaurant in here’ as you walk down the street – but don’t let that put you off.

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The only marker that you’re reached Bistrotechque is a discreet little opening between a couple of buildings, which is given away by some dangling lights and some foliage.

Once you head inside and make your way up the stairs, you’re greeted with a massive bright, airy, white room. There’s a large bar running down the side of the restaurant, with an open kitchen at one end, and a piano at the other.

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The room is stark and is simply decorated with industrial drop lighting, original concrete floors and brick walls, plus it comes complete with white-clothed tables, which really brings the place together.

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The menu at Bristotheque is filled with your standard brunch fare, but with a few surprises thrown into the mix. I was gutted to find out that only two weeks after we visited that they added a soft shell crab benedict to their menu!

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I opted for the Bistrotheque Breakfast, which comes with sausage, bacon, baked beans, layered potato, eggs, and toast. It’s a whole lot of food and Conor had to help me finish it off as I couldn’t quite manage it.

Their layered potatoes are something else though – they’re basically fried potatoes but served as stacked, thinly sliced cubes… I dread to think about how many calories they contained.

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Conor went for the Eggs Royale, which was served the traditional way on English muffins but it comes with a little twist, however, as the eggs are topped with caviar.

Now brunch isn’t brunch without a bloody mary (or two), and Bistrotheque mixes up a knockout – just don’t get your spice wimp boyfriend to try it because it really packs a punch.

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Bristotheque, 23-27 Wadeson St, London E2 9DR

 

 

 

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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

 

Green room cafe | Is it worth the wait?

There’s a cute little cafe in Stoke Newington which is merged with a flower shop, known as the Green room Cafe. It’s nestled on Church Street, and if you walk through the florists and head to the back, you’ll find the cafe. It’s got a beautiful outside space where you can bask in the sun and nibble on their cakes in amidst of the plants and flowers.

We were seated promptly (however that was the only thing that was done swiftly), as it takes ages for the staff here to bring you anything. There were only two people covering the entire restaurant which has about 30 tables – a recipe for a disaster.

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We should have picked up on the vibes of the other diners when we arrived – there was definitely an air of annoyance coming from most people and the majority of tables had stacks of dirty dishes piling up on the side.

The main waiter was rushing around telling everyone he would be over in 5 minutes, while seemingly doing nothing other than get himself into a flap. Whilst the other clutched the menu in between his claws and paced up and down the cafe, ‘Hello, can we please have one of those menus in your hands?” – nope, nothing.  And so we were left waiting for almost half an hour until we were finally brought some menus and a jug of tap water.

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Once we finally got our hands on the menu, I decided on a veggie breakfast of halloumi, kale squeak, homemade beans, tomato, mushroom, eggs and toast. My mum opted for the chorizo  shakshuka, which comes with two poached eggs in a tomato sauce and a side of sourdough.

It was then another mission to try and get them to take our order. The only real reason we stuck around was the beautiful setting – it’s kind of hard to stay angry when you’re surrounded by succulents and daffodils.

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Homemade baked beans are rare and these were good. But that’s about where it ends because I served just half of a mushroom. Just half. In what world is serving half a mushroom acceptable? The kale squeak was unseasoned and as there was no salt and pepper on the tables (shock), I couldn’t rectify it to suit my taste buds.

My mum’s shakshuka was good but the eggs were definitely overcooked. a big no no for me. Plus a parsley garnish would have made this dish a real treat and would have helped to amplified the flavour.

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Our brunch was turbulent, we were happy to leave and get out of their hair. I was glad that we had to pay at the till and we were served by the barista. The only process which wasn’t long winded is the one where they take your money. For two coffees, an orange juice and two meals came to £20 – not bad but it would have been nice to get some sort of compensation for the disaster of a breakfast we had just had.

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Green Room Cafe, 113 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0UD

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Broadway Market

If you haven’t made any plans for the weekend yet, then Broadway Market is where you want to be on a Saturday. A couple of weekends ago, Scott took me for our anniversary. It still amazes me that I can still discover new parts of London that I haven’t explored before – even through I’ve spent my whole life here. It’s located in the heart of Hackney nestled between Regent’s Canal and London Fields. You’ll find independent shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants dotted along the street, and of course you’ll find stalls offering amazing fresh produce, authentic street food, vintage clothing, and arts and crafts.

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Broadway Market is a real foodie haven, and without trying to sound cliche, there really is something for everyone.

We started with these black pudding scotch eggs which we were cooked to perfection as the egg yolk was runny but still managed to hold its shape. I adore scotch eggs, I love the fact they’re basically a miniaturised fry-up made up of sausage, eggs and bread. They’re just a complete little parcel of goodness.

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There’s something about garlic stuffed olives – they’re fantastic. Forget the garlic breath and grab yourself a pot of these.

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And for one of the main reasons for my visit, The Dumpling Shack. They’re squidgy little dumplings handmade in front of you and fried up to order.

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And dessert? Well, we couldn’t decide so we ended up trying a couple of sweet treats. Scott has been ogling these salted caramel brownies all day. Which are unbelievably moreish and between two fudge brownie there’s a layer of liquid salted caramel which oozes as you bite into it.

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We also paid a visit to Crosstown Doughnuts, where I gobbled up a matcha doughnut. If you’re not already sold on matcha, then these will do the trick.

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By this point, I had eaten my entire calorie intake in an hour. But I brought some meringue kisses to bring home for my family. There’s nothing better than a light, fluffy meringue, and The Meringue Girls nail it. They’re the perfect takeaway treat.

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Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ

Velvet Lattes at Palm Vaults

When I first spotted Palm Vaults over on Instagram, they jumped straight up to the top of my ‘places to visit’ list. It’s a picture-perfect independent coffee shop and although the place only opened recently, it’s already bustling. I look the mini pilgrimage to Hackney with my friend Serena to check out what the all the fuss is about.

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It’s a house plant heaven, with pink velvet seats, pink marble tables, with touches of gold – a barbie’s paradise. It’s a beacon of pink against the mundane Hackney highstreet, and as you step inside you’re thrown back to Miami in the 1970s. I thought I’d find it quite kitsch, but I completely love it.

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I opted for their most instagramed drink, the velvet latte, along with a side of avocado toast. It’s made with beetroot and if you love matcha, you’re going to relish this. They’re also known for their eclectic menu of smoothies and juices – which are incredibility refreshing.

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We were also tempted by their variety of cakes and naughty treats, and Serena went for their avocado chocolate cake, whereas I went for the salted caramel banana cake (after all, I couldn’t resist). Their cakes were SO good, plus the portions were huge! I’m gutted to say I wasn’t able to finish it all.

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Palm Vaults, 411 Mare St, London E8 1HY

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Freakshakes at Molly Bakes

You’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Freakshakes. They’re indulgent milkshakes topped with ice cream and baked goods. Molly Bakes has recently opened a cafe in Dalston. As far as I’m aware they’re the only place in London serving them so Scott and I just had to try them out this weekend.

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We huddled around a small table and ordered ourselves two cups of coffee, a chocolate freakshake for me, and a peanut butter one for him. The milkshakes are served in mason jars, topped with whipped cream, icecream, baked goods and a toasted marshmallow, and are well worth the £7 price tag. They come in four favours – chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and raspberry. If these sound like too much to handle they also have a range of cakes, cookies and brownies to choose from.

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The rim of mine was covered with chocolate spread with mini chocolate balls stuck to it. It was then filled with chocolate milkshake and then icecream and whipped cream was piled on the top. Next came a chocolate brownie and the toasted marshmallow, and then it was drizzled with chocolate sauce. Scott’s was topped with a peanut butter cookie icecream sandwich instead of a brownie, and they were both amazing.

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I’m really glad the bitterness of the chocolate came through with mine as I haven’t got the biggest sweet tooth – Scott had to finish mine off as it was way to big for me. If you’re going to have a cheat meal this is definitely the place to come to, just be prepared for a massive sugar rush.

Molly Bakes, 450 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AE