When you know you want a late-breakfast-early-lunch, but don’t know where to go, these East London spots will fill a hole – and do it while looking damn fine décor-wise too.
Betweeen Victoria Park and London Fields in East London, you’ll find English modernist brasserie Bistrotheque. Or more likely, you might not find it, since it’s so well disguised on a quiet industrial street… It looks like this:
Go on in (I would recommend booking) and you’ll be well rewarded with a stunning loft-y space, beautifully furnished, buzzing with diners, and all set to the soundtrack of live piano music – when we were there, the pianist was playing the likes of Rihanna and Coldplay, and it was fantastic background music.
Food-wise, expect all the usual brunch fare – I went for pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (£7), but Ciaran, Max and Holly went for eggs, muesli and full fry ups; there’s even fish & chips, burgers and roast chicken if you fancy going large.
Pricing is very reasonable – much cheaper than the high class décor would suggest it should be. Bistrotheque is also open for lunch and dinner.
A perfect example of my ideal kind of restaurant, combining great food, reasonable pricing and a fantastic interior and ambience – I highly recommend it.
#2 Hoi Polloi
Hoi Polloi is the all-day brasserie located inside the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. If you ever need somewhere to stay, the Ace is a winner – I’ve stayed in New York (full details here), but the Shoreditch hotel has equally beautiful interior design…
Back to brunch. Pass the plants (yep, there’s a garden shop on the hotel’s ground floor)…
Enter the hotel…
Walk through the hotel lobby and lounge areas…
Past the lobby bar…
Walk through Bulldog Edition, the lobby café (a partnership with Square Mile Coffee Roasters)…
And finally you hit the restaurant, Hoi Polloi. Another absolutely beautiful space, which features many design icons, from the lighting to the chairs to the teapots.
Bistrotheque’s musical director has created Sunday Strings specially for Hoi Polloi, so you can enjoy your meal to the sounds of a string quartet (though I must say we were sat just that bit too close to the quartet, so it was a little distracting).
The menu (from same team as Bistrotheque) takes a fiercely seasonal approach to English produce. Printed newspaper-style, it is split into sections for breakfast, daytime, wine and dinner.
I have only ever visited for brunch. Most recently, we drank Lovage juices (£5) – Juliet’s Ruby cleansing smoothie, with beetroot, apple, cabbage and carrot, stained her lips red but I’m sure it was doing wonders for her health….! My Banana & Soy smoothie also contained almond milk, dates, tahini, wildflower honey and pink rock salt, and was delicious and filling. To eat, we ordered Eggs Royale (£11.50), which were a bit hit and miss – Juliet’s were perfectly cooked with runny yolks; mine and Holly’s were a tad too well done.
On my previous visit I’d eaten eggy bread with poached pear purée and walnuts (~£7) – a small portion (just a single piece of bread), but very tasty. On that visit, with Chris, we were generously gifted a slice of the Rocky Road Chocolate Cake when our server brought the bill – she told us it was quite legendary and we simply must try it. I’m so glad she drew our attention to it!
#3 Shrimpy’s – THIS RESTAURANT CLOSED DOWN IN 2015
Shrimpy’s is rather unusually located in a disused filling station just north of King’s Cross station, beside the canal (once a notorious red-light area!). It opened in 2012 and was a huge hit, with its trademark soft-shell crab burgers drawing the masses. Now though, it’s set to close at the end of 2014, so you don’t have long to visit!
I visited for brunch/lunch with Emaad, Rory, Katie, Chris and Ciaran. The menu (also masterminded by the guys behind Bistrotheque and Hoi Polloi – I see a pattern emerging…!!) is a journey through the Americas, and includes dishes that you might find in Peru, Mexico and the Deep South, with a few European flavours thrown in. Katie had been tipped off about the Frickles (deep fried pickled chillies) – be sure to order some to keep you going while you browse.
This is probably the most expensive of my three suggestions, with all main dishes upwards of £12 (at Hoi Polloi and Bistrotheque the brunch dishes are sub £12). So what do I recommend? The soft shell crab burger (with bacon, rouille & provolone cheese, or avocado & chipotle – £13.50) is a must-try and is what Shrimpy’s is known for. The Humita with fried eggs, chilli and chorizo was also strong – a Mexican-style dish I was not familiar with before. Ricotta hot cakes with dulce de leche (£7.50) are a wonderful breakfast/dessert option, as is the banana & peanut butter sandwich (£6).
Depending on your state of mind, you can drink anything from a bottomless filter coffee (£2) or a cocktail (~£9) – the Habanero Margarita (with tequila, lime, agave and hot Habanero sauce), Shrimpy’s Espresso Flip (tequila, Bailey’s, Kahlua & espresso) and Shrimpy’s Fizz (cachaca, pineapple, mint, lime & Cava) featured around our table.
Shrimpy’s has an outdoor dining area by the canal for the warmer months, or you can sit indoors (up at the bar or book a table). A fantastic venue and a strong menu, I definitely recommend you visit before this places disappears at the end of the year.
Shrimpy’s – this restaurant closed down in 2015
The King’s Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, N1C 4UR