Brunch at Strut & Cluck

If you’re anything like me, your weekday breakfast often consists of eggs or avos – so by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m in the mood for something different. That’s where Strut & Cluck step in. Originally just specialising in dishes featuring the turkey, they’ve branched out to a menu which really showcases Eastern Mediterranean flavours, which they’re known and loved for.

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You’ll find Struct & Cluck on a prime spot on Commerical Street, literally around the corner from Shoreditch High Street overground station. It’s got a glass-fronted exterior which looks into a brightly lit room. It’s filled with rustic wood tables, exposed light bulbs and hanging plants. The now-classic East London look and definitely something I’d love for my own flat.

I went post-gym class at the Adidas Studio and met up with my sister. She ordered the hand-pulled turkey shawarma, which is topped with a fried egg and served with dates, pine nuts, tahini on top of a pita.

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I went for the classic shakshuka, two eggs cooked in a pan with tomatoes, peppers, onions, chilli and chorizo, served with a warm pita for scooping. My eggs, unfortunately, were served undercooked, but the staff took the dish away no problem and gave me a free coffee as an apology.

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It’s a calm little oasis in the heart of Shoreditch – a perfect spot to rest your legs and refuel after a morning of touring East London.

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Strut & Cluck, 151 Commercial St, London E1 6BJ

*Main photo courtesy of Strut & Cluck

 

 

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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 

 

 

 

 

Taste of London

June seemed to fly by, and it’s been a pretty exciting month – with even more rooftop bars and outdoor foodie pop-ups flooding my Insta feed than ever before. But there was only one thing on my mind: Taste of London.

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Taste of London is one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and it’s hosted in Regents Park for just 5 days (and by the time I’ve gotten around to writing this blog, Taste of London has passed and you’re going to have to wait until November to visit!). It’s an eclectic collection of the best restaurants in the capital alongside exhibitors showcasing their products and creations.

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After an intense browse of the restaurant list, we locked onto our first target: The Ember Yard. I opted for the courgette and mint arancini served with whipped ricotta, fennel and toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s crunchy, golden brown coating gave way to a creamy filling inside, I just hope the Ember Yard will make these a permanent staple on their menu…

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Our next stop was to the Folkington‘s truck to grab ourselves a G&T. We tried all their juices first before settling on a classic, Lemon & Mint, to add to our Bathtub Gins. A refreshing (and much needed) treat.

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Roka was next, where we sampled the Gindara to nai no gyoza – black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings. If there are dumplings on a menu, I’m ordering them. I adore Roka and I’ll find any excuse to visit.

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Desert? We tried samples from Pots & Co and I loved their passion fruit and orange compete which is set on top of a cheesecake like cream. We were also given a taster each of their little chocolate pot which is made with 70% Belgian chocolate which has the consistency of a mousse. I loved it so much I went to Waitrose and bought a pack of four, it’s so creamy and indulgent.

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I so wished we can return the next day to discover all the rest of the delicious dishes – there were just so much on offer!

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A London Classic | Hawksmoor

I’ve never heard or read a bad word about Hawksmoor, and it’s one of the finest steak houses in the capital. And if you haven’t been, the rumors are true – Hawksmoor steaks are bloody brilliant.

But alas, brilliant things often come at a cost, and their steaks aren’t cheap. BUT I chanced upon a bargain with Bookatable, for a a three-course meal with a cocktail for only £30 a head. So I just had to book Scott and I in – we’re both big on steak, who isn’t?

Hawksmoor Seven Dials is an underground cavern, but it’s a beautiful thing, from the black marble staircase, to the bare brick walls and the art deco chandeliers. We kicked our Saturday lunch off with our complementary cocktails: A Tom and Jerez for me, and an Hawksmoor Cup for him.

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We began the meal with the potted beef and bacon, served with yorkshires and onion gravy. The portion is more then generous (but don’t worry, I managed just fine). The potted beef itself is tender, but not quite smooth enough to call it a paté.  The yorkshires are soft and fluffy, but they’re also quite thick so can mask the flavours coming through the potted meat.

Side note: if you’re ordering à la carte, get the scallops. They’re served in their shells and roasted in port, garlic and butter. SO GOOD.

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Next the main, and I think that going to Hawksmoor and not having steak is like going to theatre and ending up seeing Disney on ice. My rump was perfect, charred on the outside and tender and juicy inside. I ordered a pot of Bearnaise sauce with the packed full of flavour and was the perfect creamy indulgence that was needed to accompany the beef.

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We also opted for a side of triple-cooked chips, creamed spinach, and mac and cheese – because if you’re going to go to hawksmoor, you have go for it. Their sides aren’t an after thought, and I adore their mac n cheese. It’s more milky than creamy and the sauce doesn’t suffocate the pasta shells.

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This is not the place to go if you’ve got a holiday coming up (and have to fit in a itty bitty bikini), and neither of us could manage desert but we powered on. I went for the peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream. The ice cream was overly salted, which says a lot coming from me as I love salt and tip buckets of the stuff onto everything I eat.

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Our meal at Hawksmoor, including an extra side, a sauce each, service, came to a very reasonable £77. Needless to say at this price, I’ll definitely be coming back with Bookatable soon.

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Hawksmoor Seven Dials, 11 Langley St, London WC2H 9JG

 

 

 

Lunching at Breddos Tacos

The street food movement has really changed the way Londoners eat out and we can really thank the genius’ behind places like Street Feast and Kerb for that. Street food market stalls often easily match the culinary standards of some restaurants, plus high quality cheap eats are always welcome in a city that’s expensive to live in.

These days street food vendors are increasingly making the transition to permanent premises and are becoming proper restaurants, and Breddos Tacos are one of the few who are selling their van and trading it in for proper plates and indoor toilets. Breddos Tacos first started out as a makeshift taco joint in a car park in Hackney, then for a while you could catch them at Street Feast, but these days they have permanent digs in Clerkenwell – just a block away from the office.

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It’s a beautiful spot. There’s a long shared table in the middle of the room and a bar at the back which overlooks the kitchen. There’s potted plants everywhere, moodily dim lighting and hipster-ish decor. I went one Friday lunch time with some colleagues and it was mad busy, we were lucky to get our seats.

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Now, Breddos Tacos isn’t traditional Mexican food and it doesn’t really even serve the kind of ingredients that you’d expect to find in a taco joint – let’s call them Brit-Mex? It’s fusion where flavour and spice is a huge focus, where the subtlest thing you’ll find to eat is the Baja fish taco served with pico de gallo and cabbage (which was my favourite dish on the menu). This place is not for spice wimps.

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You can get yourself a taco filled with battered sweetbreads, and the crispy batter really managed to hold the offal well – but boy, it was spicy.

I loved the pillowy softness of the taco shells as they were moderately thick as well as fluffy and sturdy under the groaning weight of the generously proportioned fillings – albeit they are prone to alot of spillage.

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We actually have to wait quite a while for our food, but they were fiercely apologetic and brought over a Queso Fundido. Which is basically a pot of melted cheese with chorizo at the bottom and can be scooped up with handmade crisps.

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Breddos Tacos, 82 Goswell Rd, London EC1V 7DB

 

 

Bombay Breakfast at Dishoom

Where do you go when you’re bored of your local curry house and want something a bit special? In my quest to find the answer, and combine my love of brunch and curried food, I finally got around to trying Dishoom – and I’m honestly ashamed I’ve left it so long. It’s bloody brilliant.

My family and I decided to take my Dad for a boozy birthday brunch due to his love for all things spiced. The Dishoom in Kings Cross spans over three floors and pays homage to the bustling meeting points in India for families, friends and travellers alike in their Bombay-styled outpost. Complete with an oversized railway-station clock alongside other retro fittings and ageing sepia photographs.

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We kicked things off with the house chai and a couple of cocktails. Their chai is delicious – it’s rich, creamy and got a real spice kick (it’s also a total bargain and comes with endless refills).

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Moving onto the food, my parents both opted for the Keema Per Eedu which is a big bowl of spiced chicken keema and bits of chicken liver, topped with two fried eggs, sali crisps and served with pau buns (fluffy white bread rolls to you and I).

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I went from the Full Bombay, which comes with akuri (spicy scrambled eggs), grilled bacon, sausages, toast,grilled tomatoes and masala beans. It’s the perfect Bombay-inspired take on a classic British breakfast.

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Whilst everything is subtly spiced, my sister went for one of the more traditional dishes, the Bombay Omelette, complete with tomato, onion, coriander and chilli.

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Now, we weren’t willing to leave without trying one of their Bacon Naan Rolls, which they’ve earned such a name for themselves for. It’s a bacon butty, but not as we know it. The naan is wrapped around a couple of rashers of bacon, cream cheese, coriander and chilli jam. It was damn tasty.

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If you haven’t been to Dishoom already, then you definitely need to.

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Dishoom, Granary Square, 5 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AB

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Indian Smallplates at Gunpowder

Shoreditch is notorious for Indian restaurants, and more often than not they’re the type of curry houses where you get that all too familar carb slump after filling up on bowlfuls of chicken korma, lime pickle and poppadoms. But at Gunpowder you’ll find none of the above.

I’m currently making my way through TimeOut’s Top 100 Restaurants in London and it’s no suprise that Gunpowder are ranked in the top 20, they whip up outstanding and innovative small plates cooked with authentic Indian spices.

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Gunpowder is tucked away on a small lane in Spitalfields and this narrow Indian restaurant barely has space for around two dozen covers. But the cramped conditions are worth putting up with for the quirky dishes that come flooding out of the kitchen.

We started with the patrani maach,which was described to us as a river fish cooked in a banana leaf – it simply fell apart and had a delicious, subtle lemongrass and mustard seed flavour.

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Next came the aloo chat, a dish which potatoes are roasted in a spice mix and then smashed and covered with yoghurt, chickpeass, tomatoes – a beautiful combiation which gives a sweet and tangy taste.

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Soft-shell crab isn’t a dish I’d expect to find on an Indian menu, but at Gunpowder the risks pay off. The crab is encased in a crisp, light batter and serves to really enhance and protect the juiciness of the crab within.

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We also devoured their outstanding okra fries – a crispy triumph and a beautiful accompaniment to any dish served up at Gunpowder.

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To finish we had the molten chocolate cake served with masala chai custard. Spiced custard is truly the way of the future.

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And, if you’re in the mood for booze there’s some interesting Indian cocktails too. I had a bellini served with chilli and corriondar, and boy it packed a punch.

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Gunpowder, 11 White’s Row, London E1 7NF