Monday, 14 November 2016

Breakfast at Canteen, Southbank, London

The very spacious Canteen is hidden behind London's busy Southbank, right behind a pretty decent food market which runs Friday through to Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled as it can get lost behind all the stalls selling brownies and chorizo. Part of the Royal Festival Hall, I'm glad to say Canteen's primary-coloured decor doesn't reflect school canteen food in the slightest. 

I've popped in here a few times and made my way through the menu and have had many tasty breakfasts, always thinking it's prices are on the London-side of "reasonable".

The menu may seem simple, but a few unusual breakfasts lie between the English breakfast and eggs florentine. May I present Welsh rarebit, roast tomato and poached egg (£6.50)...

Or some black pudding on sourdough, roast tomatoes (£6.50) and extra bacon (£2.25) - don't forget to check your teeth after this meal!

Maybe you fancy something a tad more comforting now the weather has dropped like a zillion degrees. Try Canteen's porridge, banana, honey and poppy seeds (£5.50), which I swear kept me warm and cosy until lunchtime.

And of course, the coveted avocado, poached eggs and chilli on toasted sourdough (£9.50).

Don't forget to take a walk around the food market after your breakfast. Food, followed by food - my perfect kind of Saturday.

Royal Festival Hall, 
Belvedere Rd, 
London SE1 8XX

Monday, 7 November 2016

Breakfast at Milk, Balham, London

Look at this dish, go on, take it in. Isn't this just autumn in a pan? Butternut squash baked eggs with crispy sage and crumbled feta. The golden yolks perfectly runny to be mopped up with charred toast. And I must say, Butternut squash for breakfast was a bit of a revelation for me.

This is what Milk in South London's yummy-mummy territory, Balham, is really good at - very tasty, well thought out, unsual meals. Oh and the corner premises on Hildreth St market with its huge floor to ceiling windows has the perfect light for Instagramming your brekkie.

But I'm not really sure what Milk is trying to be. It feels very hipster, with its white-washed brick walls and specials menu scrawled straight onto the kitchen tiles, yet it is full of mums with prams, catching up with other mums with prams.

Known for the hoards of South Londoners who queue for an age every weekend for brunch, I went with my friend during the week, so perhaps it had a different vibe. That said, I'm not really a fan of the hipster brunch anyway, I prefer a friendly cafe where I can have a leisurely coffee and sit reading my book. But Milk is more about the uncomfortable wooden stools, squished intimately too close to your neighbour so they can turn around tables as quickly as possible.

So after trying to get as comfortable as possible in my seat and pouring over the menu, I decided on the butternut squash and eggs combo, while my anti-egg brunching friend decided on the corn fritters with some Indian-spiced sauce and corriander topping - I'm sorry, Milk's minimalist website doesn't offer their menu, so I'm struggling to remember ingredients, never mind prices a week later. Her meal arrived in a stark metal dish and she tells me it was very tasty.

While I can't fault the food and its extensive brunch menu (of which I can't remember as there were so many options), we were rather annoyed by the policy of 'no swaps'. My friend wanted to switch her avocado for mushrooms, which were the same price on the menu if you wanted them as extras, but we were told she would have to pay extra for mushrooms as they did not offer substitutions. This really got our goat. In a city where you pay between £8-15 for a decent brunch dish, I felt that was rather cheeky. And the thing is, it's the kindness of ensuring your customers enjoy their meal that will get us returning again and again. And when we have so many brunch options and places we want to try on our list, I feel Milk has been ticked off and I'll go onto the next, rather than popping in again in the future.

But as I wander by one Saturday morning a weekend later and note the throngs of people waiting in the chilly November morning for a table, I don't think Milk is worried right now about breakfast loyalty.

Milk (M1lk)
The corner of Hildreth St & Bedford Hill
SW12 9RG
(no reservations - obviously)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Breakfast at Dickie Fitz, Fitzrovia

So last week it was my birthday and I must admit I did chuckle when I received my fifth 'happy birthday' message along the lines of: "I hope you're celebrating with a fabulous breakfast". Am I that predictable... it seems that I am!

It was a dark October morning and before I headed to work, I was treated to a lovely start to the day at Dickie Fitz in London's lovely Fitzrovia. Unlike its neighbouring Soho, Fitzrovia has not yet sucuumbed to the chain-restaurant disease and still has a few charming independent pubs, cafes and restaurants. By way of evidence, my all-time favourite breakfast spot, Lantana, can be found on Charlotte Place.

Dickie Fitz is sophisticated restaurant, recently replacing a pub on Newman Street and when you walk in you can't help admire its impressively high ceiling which provides the backdrop for several dramatic spherical 'dandelion' lights. But rather than making you feel intimidated, it's eye-wateringly canary yellow seating set against crisp, white walls and grey, marble tables feels very welcoming. 

I learnt that the Aussie head chef was flown over to create a menu "inspired by the fresh flavours and ingredients of the Pacific", which, to me, means it has to have a great breakfast menu, with the obvious smashed avocado with charred tomato, kale, feta, grilled sourdough (£10.00) to the less obvious porridge with coconut, jasmine, raisins, banana, honey (£5.00).

We went for the "zucchini" (or courgette to you and me) fritters, with charred tomato, wilted chard, roasted portobellos and goat’s curd (£8.50). It was pretty special and ever so slightly gooey and satisfying in the centre, lifted by the sharp goats curd, while the wilted chard and portobellos were solid accompaniments. 

Next up were the buttermilk waffles with salted peanut, yogurt and fresh strawberry syrup (£8.00), which rounded off the meal pretty nicely - especially the compote syrup. 

A little spot of finery in Fitzrovia, which, in true Aussie style, doesn't take itself too seriously. 

48 Newman Street
0203 667 1445