22 Jul 2014


London, UK

I decided enough time had passed since I had a mediocre brunch experience at the Breakfast Club in Angel, and I was ready to give the chain another chance. I had a craving for pancakes after seeing them all over Instagram and Snapchat when I woke up, and I’d heard the Breakfast Club does pretty good ones. We called and asked if we could pick up take away, but unfortunately they don't have this option during the weekends. I headed over the Hoxton branch with a friend, and we lined up outside. It was sunny and warm outside, and as this East London outpost is much bigger than the one in Angel, the queue moved very quickly. We were in after about 15 minutes, which is not bad at all for a Sunday brunch.  We got a tall table by the large open windows, as close as you get to outdoor terrace eating there. They guy at the door was friendly and funny, but the rest of the waiters got on my nerves. It all started when I asked a waiter if they had nachos (as it’s not listed on the brunch menu). He said ‘Yes, we do!’ and I got all excited to have a side of nachos with my pancakes, but then he said that although they have it, they don’t serve it. His “funny” jokes continued, and the other waitress who served us was simply sarcastic and slow. However, the general atmosphere of the place and clientele was happy and cool. I ordered the pancakes with berries and cream, with a side of bacon. The portion was generous, and the cream and berries perfectly complimented the American style pancakes. Although the bacon was streaky, it was undercooked and had that distinct pork smell that can ruin any meal. My friend is less picky with bacon and was very happy with her bacon and banana pancakes. That is, until she found a hair in it. She got her dish for free, and that’s all they can do I guess. To drink we had an Elvis smoothie and a Virgin Apple Mojito. Both of these beverages were amazing. The smoothie had a light texture, but a deliciously indulgent flavour of vanilla ice cream, peanut butter and banana. The juice had pressed apple, mint and lime, and it’s so refreshing that it’s a good step on the way to curing a hangover. This eating experience had its ups and downs, but I’d go again if the length of the queue was reasonable like on this occasion.

10 Jul 2014


London, UK

Hoi Polloi is a restaurant on the ground floor of the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. It opened in Autumn 2013, by the Bistrotheque group. I went there for Sunday brunch with a friend. They serve weekend brunch from 12-6, which is a reasonable time for when you’ve slept in and don’t want to wake up to a dinner type meal. We called ahead, but they said there was no need to book because there was lots of room. A bad sign perhaps? The room was large, dark and a bit too gloomy for daytime. I do like the floor tiles a lot though, and the timber panelling and furniture do a good job in creating an atmosphere I’m sure I would enjoy at dinnertime. Considerable thought has gone into the details of this place, including the waiters’ specially made jumpers, the menu printed as a newspaper, and their logo on the table ware. We looked through the menu and started ordering a bit too much. I had a Ruby, one of their ‘cleansing’ juices, which is a blend of beetroot, apple cabbage and carrot. I didn’t love it, but that’s not to say the juice isn’t good, it’s just that I’m not a big fan of beetroot, yet for some reason I keep ordering it. To start we shared Chickpea Fritters with Tarragon Yogurt. These were some rather chunky pieces that we didn’t manage to finish. The dip was very good, but the chickpea chips thing didn’t really work. It would have been delicious with potato chips instead. We then moved onto Eggs Benedict, where we had requested that the ham be replaced by streaky bacon, an important detail for a successful brunch. I also had Buttermilk Pancakes with syrup, which were yummy but a bit too hard in their texture. I’m sure there are plenty of better pancakes within a 1 km radius of the Ace Hotel. When my Food Grid partner asked if it was worth travelling to from across town, I couldn’t really say yes. I’m very happy to have an all-day brunch place where there never are queues in my area, but there was never a moment in the meal when we stopped to give each other that look showing how good the food was. It was just convenient, safe and did the job. I’d rather meet up for brunch at Cecconi’s or Tom’s Kitchen, but when I don’t feel like moving too much I’ll gladly walk over to Hoi Polloi.

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