Tuesday, 24 March 2015



For the latest installment of brunch club, it's the turn of Hotbox and you're not going to regret the indulgence of a brunch here. In fact, I think you'll find it's pretty important (although not for your waistline) that you return for many weekends to come!
Hotbox on Commercial Street is your one stop shop for bottomless bloody Mary's (£25), runny eggs, smokey meat, waffles and fried chicken, pancakes, french toast, mac and cheese .. interested yet?
You can book for tables of 6 or more but there's plenty of space for walk-ins, perfect for the hangover cure, the boozy brunch, the mate date, the date date or just to drop in for a coffee and a listen to the totally fantastic soundtrack compiled by the staff.
We took our seats and turned our attention to the menu, filled with all the things one could wish for in a brunch. There's meat, there's eggs, there's avocado but first thing's first, coffee and a Bloody Mary. 
                                                                 (Menu c/o hotboxlondon.com)
Today it was going to be the 'Green,' which was apparently their best seller and after the initial shock of being served a Bloody Mary which (unless I had a spontaneous onset of colour blindness), was not your usual ruby tomato red, it was clear to see why it was so popular. A perfect balance of cucumber and spice made it refreshing but with just enough of a kick to eliminate the remnants of last night. A good 'entry' Mary for those of you who claim not to like the drink, I challenge you not to be converted by this delicious tankard.

Back to selection stations where you won't want to employ any self control. Taking into account our sadly not so bottomless stomachs, we attempted take things slowly. For all our good intentions, this didn't work.  At all.

Drum roll please for the Belgian waffle with fried chicken, truffle salt and maple syrup. The chicken was tender and the batter light and crispy. The waffle was pillowy and soft and once the whole devilish partnership was drenched in maple syrup it was all we could do not to inhale the entire thing in one gigantic mouthful.

Since sharing is most definitely caring, the skillet smoked meat hash also took our fancy, with chunky cubes of potato, tomato and a crispy fried egg on top. Just the trick.
And then we went overboard with the mac n cheese but I'd like to see you try and resist this ..
With plenty of space for groups, pairs or even on your own (take a seat opposite the window and bring a book), there's no excuse not to drop by.
After our beauteous brunch, we were fit to burst and decided it was time for mint tea (and probably a nap). As expected, we were all delighted by the little tiny teapot. 

And it was of course necessary to inspect the bathroom. To reach it, you pass by a deliciously crumbly wall, with tiny candles tucked into the spaces between the bricks. Inside out design gets me every time! 
Toilets along the lines of sardine tins with foil covered walls caused giggles with a lovely little juxtaposition of breeze block and Aesop hand care that also raised a smile and an extra few minutes hand tlc!
So there you have it, a great reason to drag yourself out of bed at the weekend. Bring it on brunch!

Hotbox on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Friday, 20 March 2015



On a little (massive) trip (trek) to Balham at a godearthly hour on Saturday morning, M1lk was our brunch location of choice. We were not the only ones with the bright idea, and the queue snaked outside the brightly lit interior into the chilly outside. With all its tiny dogs, flower stalls, giggling toddlers, and pretty people, Balham was in a fine mood that morning and we were about to be too.
Having eventually been seated, we grabbed our menus and stuck in. Today was a day for pancakes, poached eggs and crushed avocado. It was also a day for not having any cash and needing to leg it over to the cash point around the corner because M1lk doesn’t take cards, although considering what we were about to order, I shouldn’t complain about a little extra exercise.
Jumping off our high chairs and over to the neon signed bar, we ordered our brunch feast, being carefully observed by Jesus and his 3 wise men (12 dead butterflies)!
Flat white’s were a given and never a pair to turn down a milk bottle, we had to order a smoothie too because obviously things taste far better in novelty glassware...

The eggs Benedict arrived in a more deconstructed form than expected, still tasty, but since when is the piping hot hollandaise sauce not slathered over the top to keep the eggs warm?! Observing fellow diners, it appeared that our order might have been somewhat lost in translation!

The buckwheat pancake arrived with poached pear, clotted cream and crumbled rich tea biscuit, smothered in maple syrup. Yes, this was definitely the more indulgent option but hey, I made it south of the river and was in need of a reward.

Never one to miss the decorative intricacies, of course I noticed the suspended pram!

M1lk is a very popular brunch choice and the queue was still going strong when we left. Laid back and oozing with friendliness, even the most hung-over diner will be cheered up by the playful charm of this neighbourhood spot. Just make sure you're clear about your order!
M1LK on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Chop chop

The pure beauty of the chop should never be underestimated. Amongst all this (undeniably justified) chatter about steak, the majestic chop has passed by almost unnoticed. No longer! Thanks to Blacklock on Great Windmill St in Soho, chops are well and truly back in the game and crikey they are fabulous.

As per usual, I arrived with plenty of time to spare, given that the standard Soho no-reservations policy is being adhered to and queues will snake up the stairs. Don't fret, it's totally worth the wait to scoff your chops! (If you email lunch@theblacklock.com and get your charm on, you'll probably be able to wangle yourself a table at lunch time)!
Approached by Mr Charm Oozer, I was directed to the bar to await a table. Totally fine by me and I perched in front of the bartender who was mixing up £5 glasses of the expertly selected cocktails on offer, including a sherry laced Grandma's 'spiked' lemonade. Also available were bottles of Negroni and Old Fashioned for the whole table to share (£45) - adios 'just a glass of tap water please!'

Mr Schmoozington returned to lead us to our seats, it was time to get chopping! £20 all-in got us drooling at the thought of the approaching meat feast. To whet our appetite and to give us something to nibble on while was waited, a plate of the 'filthy ham' arrived. 3 Little curls atop a crispy flatbread later and we were ready for chops!
A plate laden high with a combination of lamb, beef and pork chops steamed over to the table. Sitting atop a salty, doughy flatbread that had absorbed some of the meaty juices, it took a surprising amount of self control to resist grabbing at the plate and turning full cannibal! 

The sides were equally drool inspiring, with smoky, overnight grilled sweet potato and char-grilled kale sprinkled with parmesan. I'll be back for the charred courgettes, heritage carrots and barbecued baby gems in no time!
The meaty aromas wafted round the room from the open kitchen where the chefs were flattening the meat over a metal plate with steaming hot irons or ‘blacklocks’ (take a moment to mourn for the removal of the iron playing piece from modern day monopoly boards). The specials were scrawled on blackboard pillars around us and demand was high.

Next to us, a party of 9 were digging into a gigantic platter (note to self to return with EVERYBODY in order to be at the receiving end of a similar meaty monstrosity).
Blacklock has found a nifty little niche and it fits into Soho like a glove. With appropriately distressed walls and brickwork, exposed overhead piping and comfortably located in what used to be a basement brothel, the entire operation is a slick machine. This is unsurprising with Gordon Ker at the helm, (previously of Hawksmoor and the staff to match) who knows exactly how he wants the ship to be run. 

There's a chance it also might help that the waiters are both devilishly attractive and delightfully attentive, both really useful qualities in distracting rumbling stomachs, although that might be Negroni talk.

Since it's all about the chop, this meat cavern is probably not appropriate for those of the vegetarian persuasion, but I'm sure Blacklock will get most of you licking your chops!
Square Meal
Blacklock on Urbanspoon

Monday, 2 March 2015

Beer & Buns

Popup Pinball

Let the beer meet the buns! And in the famous words of Mr McGuiness, you’ve got yourself a date! Welcome to Beer & Buns, a winning combination of soft, fluffy Japanese Hirata buns, chicken wings, beer, frozen margaritas, chalk boards and (drum roll please) .. pinball machines!

This great little pop up near Moorgate/ Liverpool Street (atop K10 on Appold Street) currently stocks the largest range of Japanese craft beer which is sold both by the bottle and on tap. It also happens to be the perfect accompaniment to buns, wings and more buns while you chill out on one of the large tables watching your friends getting violent with the foosball table or overexcited with the pinball machine (this bears no reflection on my behaviour .. promise ..).

If you aren’t persuaded by the beer, there are also a delicious range of alcoholic slushies. NB. Googly eyes not included, those are a product of my own childishness.

The steamed buns are priced at £3.25 a piece with an array of fillings from chicken karaage to pulled duck and teriyaki beef. The buns themselves are a little sticky and the fillings are well packed in so don’t try and talk in between mouthfuls (not that you would, terrible table manners)!

The wings are a bit of a sticky fest and arrive in their tray slathered in spicy and sweet sauce (emphasis on the spicy where the Korean Hot Wings are concerned – steam out the ears territory). At £9.95 for six sizeable wings, you’re onto a winner and can pick and choose between sweet, spicy and sweat inducing chilli levels.

Beer and Buns is a brilliantly social space and bridges the gap between nasty food pub and foodless bar. Get a group involved for some after work chill out time and make sure you add something spectacular to the walls – I went for some fellow blogger promo, feel free to do the same. Perhaps something along the lines of ‘The Little Brown Book sent me here’ (take a snap and send it my way, rewards may well follow)!

Thanks to the delightful Julian and co for looking after us, totally charming and I can’t wait to see Beer and Buns go from strength to strength. They’re onto something great, so watch this space!

Beer and Buns is open Mon-Fri 5pm-11pm but this might be subject to change so make sure you check out their website just in case!