Sunday, 2 January 2011

Brunchin' brunchin' #2

Brunch is big business in the yummy liberal enclave of Stoke Newington. So much so, that in a damning critique of the inner city middle classes's hypocrisy, the Independent journo highlighted the almond croissant and latte serving cafes of N16 as the frontline of social divisions that permeate right down to parents at the school gate.

Competition is fierce for brunch on Stoke Newington Church Street. Fierce for restaurants and cafes vying for the refined dollars of N16ers, happy to splash out on the good things in life. Fierce for would-be brunchers, with every table in every eatery hard won through hawking and stalking and opportunist pouncing. The sharp elbowed middle-classes indeed.

My old favourite is the Blue Legume, which does delicious brunch, lunch and dinner. Their brunch menu covers tansatlantic favourites such as eggs benedict, freshly pressed fruit juice combos (celery, apple and mint? YES PLEASE!) with more Mediterranean style dishes - olives, lamb sausage, haloumi all crop up in the cooked breakfast dishes. The prices are very reasonable and so the above-mentioned competition for a good table is tough. We recently even found ourselves brunching at the unfashionable hour of 10am to save us the table sourcing stress. On a bitterly cold, but sunny December morning it did the trick, but by 10.30am people were arriving in droves and by 11am the outlook was pretty bleak. So there you go: early bird, worm, etc.

I usually opt for the eggs benedict, which is always delicious, but most recently I plumped for the Mediterranean breakfast, the big 'un.

It was a delicious mixture of smoky, salty and fresh flavours; much less greasy than its English counterpart. The jam for the toast felt slightly redundant, but I guess some people like to finish on a sweet note. Ben had the fruit salad platter, which is an immense spread of exotic and more local fruit, presented beautifully and great for kidding yourself that it'll help you fighting off a cold.

The opening of Homa on Church Street midway through 2010 sent the N16 twiteratti into a gushing frenzy. A new spot, with beautiful, sleek interiors, a wine bar with a bang on winelist, excellent pizzas, bunch, cakes, locally smoked salmon. Is it too good to be true?!

We had a table late afternoon on Halloween. The surrounding streets looked like the scenes in ET, full of gleeful, screaming children dressed in immaculate scary outfits. The distractions of Halloween and our slightly odd timing made for a quiet and relaxed meal at Homa, with friendly service and tasty food.

Keen to try the N16 smoked salmon, I plumped for the Eggs Benedict. James was super keen and went for a plate full of smoked salmon with capers, cornichons, rocket and lashings of creme friache. Fancy pants. The salmon was really incredible - delicate smoky flavours, tender and very fresh tasting. In the eggs benedict it was served with fresh spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce, all of which tasted like they were made from really top ingredients.

Anna opted for a cooked breakfast of sorts, with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, mozzarella and sourdough toast. Again, the ingredients were clearly super quality and well sourced, and it totally elevates brunch from being a fun social event with nice food to a proper foodie experience.

Meals at Homa are a good £2 or so more expensive than at Blue Legume and the experience is a little more slick, stylish and sedate. The ingredients at Homa are clearly a cut above the rest, but Blue Legume is still very yummy and has a lively atmosphere and more 'fun' menu in terms of smoothies, cakes, etc. Brunch is clearly a growth industry in Stoke Newington and you're truly spoiled for choice. Lucky me.

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