Hand Cafe | East Village | Nearest Tube: Stratford | Map
It is my firm belief that everyone should have a local cafe. Cafes are the perfect place to lose yourself in your thoughts, contemplate life, or just enjoy a damn good coffee. When we moved to East Village in Stratford, the cafe offerings were pretty sparse. And by sparse I mean the closest (decent) cafe was in Homerton. That cafe was 46b Espresso Hut.
I’d been a few times when I was in the area, but it wasn’t close enough to become a ‘local’. So you can imagine my surprise when one of the units near our apartment put up a sign saying a new cafe was coming. But this wasn’t just any cafe. This was Hand cafe – 46b Espresso Hut’s younger sibling.
Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret
I really have nothing bad to say about Hand, so this post is going to be one of those genuine glowing reviews, that don’t come about too often. They’re dedicated to bringing good coffee and high quality food (using local ingredients) to the people of Stratford…and anyone who fancies paying a visit really.
From toasties to shakshuka, it’s anything but the usual foodie fare. The colourful yellow and purple dish below? That’s bacon, avocado and egg on sourdough. They’ve got the ‘traditional’ dishes down, but they’ve added their own special flare to them. My favourite is the Hand Granola; the fruits change based on what’s available and in season, and the added touch of bee pollen and mint adds a whole new dimension of texture and flavour to this breakfast staple. Trust me, you won’t bore of the food here.
More than just coffee…
I visit at least once a week, and often see the same faces (as well as new ones). Eva and Dom spend a lot of time getting to know everyone, and always greet you with a smile. And it’s not forced. These are genuine people doing something they love, and sharing it with those around them. Their hard work and determination has really helped cement Hand as – in my opinion – the best cafe in East Village. Hand cafe is a gem amongst a growing community. I think I’d even go as far to say it’s the heart.
Check out more: Where to Eat in London
Dominique Ansel London | Bakery & Cafe | Nearest Tube: Victoria | Map
I headed over to Dominique Ansel London this weekend, much like the rest of London. Well, at least that’s how it felt when we saw the queue and the distinct lack of table space. Still, we waited it out, like the good little foodies that we are. But was it worth it?
Dominique Ansel London: Is It Worth The Hype?
- Perfect Little Egg Sandwich – £5
Looking more like a Filet O’ Fish when it arrived, I was skeptical. However this light sandwich was actually pretty delicious (no shade FOF). The flavours pack quite a punch, and are kinda quizzical at the best of times. But I liked it. I think…
- Croque Monsieur – £10.50
£10.50 (not incl VAT)! For a croque monsieur! I’m sorry but this is ridiculous, especially when you find out that it tastes no different to those you’ve had at half the price. Coming from a French chef/brand, this is a big let down.
- Liquid Caramel Peanut Butter Mousse Cake – £5.90
Not only is it beautifully presented, but it’s heaven for a peanut butter lover. The base fell a little flat (soft and wet), but I half wonder if it’s because we didn’t eat it until the evening. That said, I’d expect a freshly made £6 cake to last a couple of hours.
- Lime Me Up Tart – £6.20
This was recommended to us, and I can see why. The sharp flavours contrast perfectly against the myriad of textures. This is a fun one. You need to pour the mixture of sea salt, juniper and brown sugar into the groove and squeeze fresh lime over to make an instant caramel. Silly, unique, genius.
The store is beautiful, the staff knowledgeable, and the menu enticing. However I can’t say I was majorly won over by Dominique Ansel London. I still really enjoy his fun and contemporary outlook on the art of patisserie. And it’s safe to say that you’ll definitely find something different on your visit. Your pockets will be a lot lighter mind you. The prices on the menu don’t include VAT! So if you want to sit in – if you can find a seat – it’s gonna cost you a bit more.
The whole thing just feels a bit anti-climactic. You could blame the cronut (which still sell out quickly here). Dominique’s sudden catapult to fame has left everyone wanting more, more more. And unfortunately I don’t think he can catch up. Still, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and try again. Maybe.
Check out more: Where to Eat in London
155 Bar and Kitchen | European | Website
155 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, EC1 3AD
Weekend brunch is almost a ritual for the typical Londoner. Whether it’s with your significant other, your friend group, or even a quiet one by yourself, it’s the perfect way to spend a morning…or afternoon. I’ll admit, I’m a serial bruncher. I do it at least once a week, so you know I’m seriously knowledgable. I just love it.
Where to Eat in London: 155 Bar and Kitchen
I like brunch even more though when I can pair it with window shopping. That’s why 155 Bar and Kitchen was the perfect location for me. Attached to trendy lifestyle store Clerkenwell London, 155 Bar and Kitchen offers up European food from breakfast to dinner. The stylish interior blends perfectly with the vibe of the restaurant. I’m such a sucker for a good looking restaurant.
Of course I was there to brunch, and what better way to do it than with a bottle of prosecco? Ok so we didn’t just dine on bubbly. In fact we tried a couple of dishes and shared them:
- 155 Waffles
At 155 your Belgian (the best in my opinion) waffles come with a choice; bacon & scrambled egg, or berries and cream. Savoury and sweet is my jam, so I went for bacon and egg. The waffles here are homemade, and are the perfect mixture of crunchy outer, and soft inner. Whilst the bacon and egg help even out the sweetness of the waffle. It’s truly a match made in heaven.
- Classic English Breakfast
This has to be the prettiest English breakfast I’ve ever seen. And that’s definitely the weirdest sentence I’ve written for a while. There wasn’t too much food, nor was it greasy – two of the main sins of a full English. In summary, not only did it look good, but it tasted pretty damn good too.
- The coffee
As always, a brunch spot is nothing without good coffee. If you fancy a bit of caffeine alongside your prosecco – coz you should totally get prosecco too – then don’t fear, 155 does not disappoint on this either.
Final thoughts? 155 Bar and Kitchen is a ridiculously cool and sleek restaurant, perfect for any foodie. Because guess what? It’s all style, and a hell of a lot of substance. If you’re in Clerkenwell, this seriously needs to be on your list of go-to places. And if you don’t? Then get off your sofa and head there straight away!
Check out more: Where to Eat in London
Soft Serve Society* | Ice Cream, Tea & Freakshakes | Website
UNIT 35 BOXPARK, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY
Last year one unique, insane, ginormous, sweet sweet dish, broke the internet. The freakshake. Piled high with cake, cookies, chocolate and more. People were going crazy for this milkshake on steroids. However at the time, they weren’t available in the UK. Luckily for me, I live in London – undoubtedly the food capital of England. And of course it was only a matter of time before London picked up on the trend…and made it their own.
Get Your London Freakshake On
So where do you get your London freakshake on? At Soft Serve Society of course! The new eatery has opened in one of Shoreditch’s favourite retail destinations, Boxpark. Offering up soft serve ice cream, cotton candy cones, sundaes, freakshakes, tea and more. If that wasn’t all, there are nods to the owner’s favourites, such as matcha and chiffon cake (homemade by the way).
Luckily I was invited down to try some of their menu, with my friend Vanessa. As concise as the menu is, it’s still pretty tough to choose just one thing. So of course Vanessa and I went for a few. And shared, coz clearly we’re not animals. We chose:
- Matcha Freakshake
I was so eager to finally try a freakshake, so when I saw my favourite flavour on the menu, I knew I had to have it. You’d be surprised at just how devourable this really is. Most people would suggest eating it between 2, I say go all out and keep it for yourself. It’s that good! The chiffon cake is airy, and the pocky/cookie and cream are the perfect dipping companions. The milkshake itself carries the perfect hint of green tea; sweet and surprisingly light.
- Matcha Madness | Soft Serve Sundae
A must for any matcha/green tea fan, especially if you want something slightly more portable than the freakshake. The sweet azuki beans are the perfect compliment to the slightly bitter (but not too much) matcha. Whilst the mochi adds texture alongside the soft serve. Basically it’s got flavour, it’s got texture. It’s the perfect sundae.
- Espresso Yourself | Soft Serve Sundae
I loved the sprinkle of coffee on top of the sundae. It added a slight crunch, and a shot of flavour. Any coffee fan (aka me) will adore this sundae. Out of all of the sundaes we tried, this is the one I can see myself buying on a regular basis.
- Where’s My Honey | Soft Serve Sundae
This one is for the sweet toothed out there. The oats and waffle add some extra oomph, but personally I would prefer something with a slightly bitter or salty topping, as the honey and soft serve are pretty sweet. But I know not everyone is down for that. If you love sweet stuff, this is for you.
Overall I loved Soft Serve Society. The draw may be the freakshakes, or the cotton candy ice cream, but it’s a lot more than that. This is the perfect addition to any foodie’s Summer.
Check out more: Where to Eat in London
Good and Proper Tea* | Brunch/Afternoon Tea in London – Cafe | Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane | Website
One of my favourite anecdotes from my time in Japan is the afternoon tea tale. Whenever I met someone for the first time (who had not been to the UK/had any British friends), they would without fail ask me “what time is afternoon tea?” This question came up again and again, and I quickly realised that people genuinely see afternoon tea as a part of everyday life in the UK. Unfortunately most of us Brits know this isn’t the case, but I do love to indulge a little every now and again.
The New Afternoon Tea in London
For me, brunch is the new afternoon tea, in London anyway. I love to spend a weekend morning – or a weekday if I’m feeling particularly luxurious – just relaxing with a cup of coffee, and a decent selection of hot food and pastries. In fact I enjoy it so much, I’m constantly searching for new brunch places. Luckily for me, I was invited along to the launch of Good and Proper Tea‘s new Leather Lane store.
Crumpets and Tea!
Ok let’s get to the food! VA and I shared a selection of G&P’s famous handmade crumpets and cakes:
- Egg, Mustard, Ham and Cheese Crumpet – Subtle flavours on top of a pillowy crumpet. A unique take on the Croque Madame!
- Marmite & Cheese Crumpet – Melted cheese oozes over a soft crumpet, whilst everyone’s favourite yes-no condiment adds a tangy edge.
- Blood Orange & Poppy Seed Cake (vegan friendly) – Sweet and a little tart. Stodgy, but in a good way. I could eat this everyday.
- Honey and Orange Madelines – These were so delectable and flavoursome. They are definitely my favourite sweet treat at G&P.
Alongside our food I tried the Dragonwell Tea and a Chai Latte, both are personal favourites of mine. Dragonwell tea (aka Longjing) is a roasted green tea. It went extremely well with my breakfast, as it isn’t too bitter or strong a flavour. My Chai Latte was made using milk, however dairy-free versions are available, which I do appreciate. It was a little spicy, and very creamy. Just the way I like it.
Let’s round it up
First things first, I’m the realest… Wait no, that’s not right. The decor! The decor is insanely gorgeous – there are some definite #interiorgoals going on here. Luckily Good and Proper Tea are as much about substance as they are style; as is reflected in their food and tea offerings. We may have gone for brunch, but you could easily while away an afternoon here chatting with friends, “working”, or of course, for afternoon tea.
You can visit Good and Proper Tea in Clerkenwell, Old Street and Brockley Market (find them here).
Read more: Where to Eat in London | A London Life
Hurwundeki Cafe | Bethnal Green | Nearest tube: Bethnal Green/Cambridge Heath | Website
Where to Eat in London: Hurwundeki
A couple of weekends ago I was invited to stop by Hurwundeki’s cafe, to try out their new brunch menu (Tues-Sat until 3:30pm). For those that don’t recognise the name, this Korean cafe-come-salon-come-restaurant is almost a Bethnal Green institution. Believe it or not, as big of a fan of Korean food as I am, I’ve never been to Hurwundeki. As a resident of East London I have no excuse. Luckily for me I chose the perfect sunny weekend to head over with Ffi, to finally see what they had to offer.
How is the food and coffee?
We ordered two dishes to share: the Avocado & Bacon with chilli, and the Homemade Falafel with beetroot and sesame, both of which came on toast. The former was slightly spicy, and used good quality (crisped) bacon; a well loved favourite that has been executed well. The latter falafel dish was my favourite though. The unique flavours (for a typical brunch) really made this dish stand out. Both came in light, smallish portions, which were the perfect serving sizes for us. That said, they may be a little small for some people. On the bright side, this does leave room for cake – so no need to worry! We tried the Gluten Free & Vegan Peanut Brownie, and the Almond and Chocolate Bread Pudding. Neither were overly sweet or heavy, which I loved. I also appreciated the options for coeliacs and vegans – nice one Hurwundeki!
I grabbed a coffee (easy to do when I have Drip App), which uses Workshop Coffee’s Cult of Done espresso. I loved how smooth and flavoursome (sweet notes of cocoa and maple syrup) this Brazilian coffee was.
My only complaint is that Hurwundeki doesn’t carry over the Korean food into their cafe. I would have loved to have seen some Korean-inspired dishes or ingredients pop up on the brunch menu. I imagine this is because a lot of people expect certain foods at brunch in London, which is a shame really. That said, the food here is presented well, and tastes delicious. With dishes starting at around £4.50, this is more than affordable. I’ll definitely be stopping by for brunch again.
You can visit Hurwundeki at 296–299 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9HA or online here.
Make sure to check out Drip App for some of London’s best independent coffee shops!
The Fabulous Adventures of 698b | London Supper Club
A London Supper Club…
You may remember me listing The Fabulous Adventures of 698b as my top London supper club to attend in 2016. And that was only based on their canapés! Of course I had to remedy this, and luckily for me I was invited only a few days after meeting the lovely people behind the supper club. It’s fair to say that I was ridiculously excited. You all know how much I love food, and this was one food event I could not wait to attend.
The food. Oh the food. Where do I begin? How about the fabulous amuse bouche? As delicious as they are beautiful, these paired perfectly with the seasonal prosecco bellini. The starter of Asparagus with quail eggs and yoghurt was light and fresh; the caramelised yogurt was the star here. The fish course: Steamed Halibut with barley samphire and sea purslane, was again light, and carried subtle flavours throughout the dish. My favourite course of the night was the Rib of Beef with wild garlic; tender high quality beef was accompanied by wonderfully fresh seasonal produce.
The dessert. I don’t want to say much, as this is something you really need to experience yourself. I will say though that it involves an awesome soundtrack, a variety of delicious desserts, and a completely immersive experience. It’s not to be missed!
We were sat next to two couples, both go whom were absolutely lovely. We laughed and joked, and exchanged stories. Some people might say we were lucky, but I believe that the kind of people who attend supper clubs tend to be more outgoing and social. So you’re basically guaranteed a night of good food and socialising. There was a general atmosphere of good cheer all around. Four of us attended, but it’s fair to say we left with more friends that evening.
Final thoughts on The Fabulous Adventures of 698b
From the warm welcome, to the plating in front of the guests, and the adventurous dessert, The Fabulous Adventures of 698b is one of London’s best supper clubs right now. The accomplished Guillame and Maja – what a power couple – are using high quality ingredients, seasonal produce and innovative ideas. I genuinely felt like I was dining with close friends. Close friends who are extremely talented in the kitchen. At £44 per person, this is one treat I would gladly partake in again. This isn’t just good food. This is The Fabulous Adventures of 698b.
You can book tickets to The Fabulous Adventures of 698b at Grub Club and Tabl.