Hungry in London: 10 of the best breakfasts…

Let’s face it, if our parents and every responsible adult since the dawn of time are to be believed, then breakfast = the most important meal of the day.

As a responsible person yourself now – I know, I know but what happened at university, stays at university – what you also understand to be true beyond any doubt is this: it’s the best meal of the day.

Think about it – you can eat pretty much anything you want, it’s perfectly acceptable to boozify your order and, done right, it can set you up for an absolutely cracking day of running around and getting stuff done like the queen you are or laying on the sofa and bingeing ‘Killing Eve’ until you’re in a highly suspicious but nonchalantly lazy food coma like the queen you are.

With that in mind, here are ten spots in the capital worth making a beeline for at the start of the day. Seasonality is big on London menus right now so not every dish listed below may be carried 24/7, 365 but whether it’s on piled onto bread or layered into a bowl, know that every place mentioned is still 100% worth checking out for the tastiest way to start as you mean to go on.

1.Bacon, Egg, Chilli & Cheese on Focaccia at The Dusty Knuckle

Squirrelled away on a Dalston back street with a heritage that began in a Hackney shipping container, this bakery has drawn people regularly to East London on serious bread pilgrimages for five years now.

Set up by three friends looking to create outstanding food whilst helping young people create creatively sustainable lives & careers for themselves, you’re never going to have anything less than one of the best meals of your week there but weekend brunching is a particularly smart option for those with a big appetite.

Fried egg, crispy bacon and a whole muddle of chilli, cheese, spring onions & fresh herbs are piled between slabs of dimpled, golden, pillowy focaccia; messy, crunchy, chewy and delicious, this is the kind of sandwich that demands you lay it down for just a moment to, briefly but reverentially, pay homage to the bakers inside who’ve been there since 4am so that you could rock up to soothe that Friday night head at one of the sunny picnic tables out back come Saturday morning.

Epic my friends, truly epic.

Going gaga for Tata…

Those looking to eat Tata Eatery’s katsu sando at Tayer & Elementary should know that two things are required; a love of food that melts softly in a puddling pool of its own delicious fat and the ability to unhinge your jaw like something simultaneously alarming yet endearing from ‘Planet Earth’.

Pitched somewhere between anchovy soldiers & burrata flatbreads on a beautifully brief menu in a gloriously industrial space, this crispy buttery sandwich is prime edible real estate. Held in place between two slices of toasted brioche, layers of sweet raspberry sauce, crunchy cabbage & an umami power bomb red pepper paste, the panko pork is rich and quivering, falling apart in your mouth with the barest of efforts.

Perfect rhubarb highballs look like something lifted straight from Barbie’s hen-do cocktail menu; slightly sharp, vaguely sweet and poured around giant ice blocks, I drank them without hesitation or delay, congratulating myself on a job well done as they disappeared without trace or struggle. Even the water looks exquisite here, held captive in beautifully fashioned tree bark glasses.

Softly curled up gently in their bowl like an otherworldly translucent underwater plant, endive leaves bore no trace of their characteristic bitterness and were dotted with candied walnuts, a deeply savoury smoked yoghurt sauce spooned on the side that I could have spooned over everything.

Flatbreads were crispy, pocketed with golden bubbles and slathered with molten-middled burrata & soft salty seaweed…

…whilst briny baby Cantabrian anchovies lay draped across fat, fluffy toasted soldiers like fanciful pin-ups from the forties…

…and ox cheek quesadillas arrived gossamer thin and incredibly crispy, almost shattering in your mouth one great greedy bite at a time. Loaded with thick tangy yoghurt and a waterfall of herbs, you might go for the sando but don’t leave without eating the quesadilla.

Too full of good stuff for dessert – the notion of pacing oneself will be a lifelong struggle for me – the suggestion of a coffee slushie from our gorgeously bouncy waiter was a perfect one. Frozen coffee blended with Havana rum, coffee liqueur, both condensed & coconut milks and little bit of magic create the ultimate grown-up hard shake. Drank here in teeny tiny glasses, this would be a totally credible day-time way of cooling down in the summer even if you might find your afternoons fading into a delightfully mellow haze after one or two or six…

There’s a lot to like about eating here – the brevity of the menu, the extraordinarily friendly service, the global influences all muddling together into small plates full of elegance and flavour – but what’s really special is the love of food & the confidence in what this team is doing that radiates out of each dish. Come the summer, those drinks and that menu are going to be one of the best things about living within walking distance of this new Old St beauty.

Pophams; Islington’s best new bakery and a slice of homebaked heaven…

There’s something unbeatable about the combination of a sheet metal grey day so cold it freezes the tears that tiptoe down your face and a bakery where handthrown ceramic mugs of foamy bitter chocolate and feather light pastries become the very definition of cosy.

If I ever find myself in a world where I have to renounce a food group, all things kneaded, rested, proved & baked can rest easy because I’d sooner give up breathing than I would bread and all its siblings.

Seriously, a life without warm loaves that spill puffy clouds of steam into the air upon tearing into, without tangy sourdough and its soft gaping craters that beg for salted butter to drip through them, without viennoiserie whose almost transparent layers of gossamer fine pastry are the perfect place for plump jammy berries or darkly beguiling chocolate or sharp citrus curd to lay their heads…well, this is not a life worth living.

Dramatic? Moi?

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The recently opened Pophams in Islington is a peachy example of why I truly love this sort of food. It tastes wonderful, it’s satisfying and breathes life back into your body on the sort of February day that hibernation or emigration were made for and it’s pretty.

Oh. So. Pretty.

Puh-lease don’t come at me with your food bore chat of butter calories and back well off with your carbohydrate concerns…there’s a time and a place for leafy green loveliness but this, my friends, is not it. Read More