Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A TOURIST IN MY OWN CITY

I am a creature of habits when it comes to my weekends in London, like all my good friends know always ready to go out on a Friday night, happily hungover in bed on a Saturday, indulging in an ever worsening ubereats addiction, and pottering around London before cooking for friends on a Sunday, rarely indeed leaving East London in the process. With a busy full time job and trying to fit in the gym, blog and friends it's hard to be as adventurous and more importantly energetic as you would be on a city trip somewhere else and make the effort to discover new places that are basically under your nose everyday. 

As luck would have it one of my friends coming down from Leeds for a visit proved to be just the kick up the bum I needed to break up my usual weekend routine, up early on Saturday morning and raring to explore some of London's undiscovered gems that I had been too busy, or admittedly a bit too lazy, to see before.

BRUNCH @ THE BACH HOXTON

London has been facing somewhat of a brunch crisis the last couple of years, especially when compared with New York and Berlin's stellar offerings in this department, which is why I was more than overjoyed to hear about The Bach opening about 30 seconds from my flat and which is also why we headed there on the special occasion of me being dressed, up and ready to go on our London expedition Saturday morning.

This is The Bach's second outpost and follows on from their equally appealing first cafe bang in the middle of Broadway Market which first got me interested in their concept after I enjoyed their delicious coffee and watched some seriously amazing looking food leaving the kitchen, wetting my appetite to try their menu for myself. Their Hoxton street branch instantly impresses with it's clean, Scandinavian leaning and wood heavy interior that is more than Instagrammable The menu, near identical to the Broadway market branch, is equally impressive. Think along the lines of Antipodean leaning flavour sensations on a plate, from figs with honey ricotta cheese and pistachio nuts on sour dough, the most impressive veggie breakfast I have ever seen in as chosen by my friend and consisting of cinnamon spiced baked beans, grilled vine tomatoes and courgettes, avocado, sourdough, poached eggs and halloumi, to the absolutely incredible plate of corn fritters served with garlic aioli, chilli jam, thick hot slices of halloumi and smashed avocado I went for on this occasion. 

Every mouthful was an absolute delight and reminded me of the brunches that first made me fall in love with this meal-time back in the day. This is skilfully and imaginatively prepared, fresh and most importantly delicious food that puts a standard fry up or croissant to absolute shame. Coffees were equally great which is another major winning point for me here considering the lack of decent coffee in walking distance to my flat thus far, and service was impeccable, no new opening wobbles that so many places experience at first. 

It is a true testament to how much I enjoyed The Bach that I am already considering rocking up here with one of my plates on my next hungover Saturday, pjs and all, and begging them to let me take a portion of their fritters home with me but failing that, this place is so worth getting dressed and facing the outside world for, even with the mother of all hangovers, The Bach indeed a brunch gem I am absolutely delighted to now have in my neighbourhood. 

SMALL PLATES & WINE @ HARRY GORDON'S BAR SELFRIDGES

Next up we ventured into central which I tend to do rather reluctantly on a weekend bearing in mind the mass of tourists and out-of-towners one tends to have to fight on Oxford street. There are however some undiscovered and yummy spots in even the most busy of places in Zone 1. At first however my friend had me looking a little confused when she suggested going to Selfridge's for a chilled glass of wine and some small plates, it of course being a huge department store that welcomes thousands of people through its doors every day, but as it turned out she wasn't wrong about this delightful hidden gem.

Once sat down at Harry Gordon's Bar, aptly named after the store's American founder, you would indeed never really guess that you are sat in Selfridge's basement. Looking much more like a proper Parisian wine bar and shielded from passers-by, you very quickly forgot the hustle bustle around you as you settle in to sip from one of their delightful wine glasses (FYI I am a total sucker for a thin stem wine glass) and enjoy one of their small plates. And the most shocking thing about Harry Gordon's? Doing so is surprisingly affordable! Yes, considering that you find yourself in a pretty high end luxury department store and refined environment, surrounded by a slightly older crowd of couples (and singles) that know their wines, a generous glass of the good stuff will cost you less than in some questionable East London pubs (not naming names but over £6 for your cheapest wine is not ok Owl & Pussycat) and a bloody good glass of wine at that. 

The same can be said for their fine selection of small plates which are actually not so small at all and come bursting with flavour- the truffled goats cheese, drizzled with honey, topped with almonds and served with some old school melba toast and the big chunks of patatas (or paprika spiced potatoes to you and me) with more aioli that we went for on this occasion leaving us more than satisfied and set for the rest of the day following our big brunch earlier. This place is the perfect shopping pit stop , a chilled glass of wine and delicious snack from here able to cure even the biggest aversion to shopping on a Saturday in central. Harry Gordon's isn't some dull in-store food offering, no, this place would confidently stand it's own ground compared to far pricier and indeed no more tastier tapas places in London, a great discovery bang in the centre of London I will be sure to revisit on future occasions to come.

COCKTAILS @ LONDON GRIND
Before heading to a house party later that eve and after my first ever stroll around Borough Market ( I know very shameful for a foodie and definitely not the last time I will make the effort to go south of the river to experience it's culinary wonders), it was time for another refuelling of the alcoholic kind. I am a big fan of the Grind franchise in London and have previously written about my interior design crush on their Clerkenwell Grind branch. This time however we gave London Grind a go, conveniently located just a stones throw away from Borough Market. 

I had been here previously and, as always with Grind, had been impressed with the on point interior and great coffee but coming here on a late Saturday afternoon, with 80's power ballads and indie tracks blurring out of the speakers and a buzzing atmosphere with a great mix of people getting ready for their night out added an extra special and enchanting touch. I went for a margarita, priced at only a fiver to celebrate Margarita day, which was as good as these get with a perfect balance of sharp and sweet and no overpowering tequila notes but all cocktails here looked pretty fantastic. Take a group of your favourite girls here and taste your way through the well curated menu- you'll be in the best of party moods even before the night has officially started.