Saturday, 25 February 2012


Here's another sharp operator to add to the list of usual suspects in the line-up for brunch in E London. We've already pulled in The Book Club and The Boundary Cafe for questioning here; now it's the turn of The Breakfast Club in Hoxton.
"She took me in and made me breakfast"
On Rufus Street, between Hoxton Square and Old Street, The Breakfast Club is a light, bright, modern post-industrial space.  It is very busy, full of young fashionistas styled to match the artfully distressed walls and quirky fittings.  The slick service is as up-to-the-minute as the side-ponies that have already sashayed over from London Fashion Week.
TBC gets all the important things right, with excellent coffee, a zingy bloody mary, and an eclectic menu: mounds of pancakes drip with maple syrup, bagels bulge with smoked salmon, perfect poached eggs quiver on brown toast, huevos rancheros do battle with the Full Monty breakfast. For those who only emerge when daylight fades, there is a late breakfast menu starting at 5:00 in the evening.  But it's very popular, so get here fashionably early.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well... it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Ah the secret cocktail bar. Enter via an urban version of the rabbit hole (brown door between kebab shop and newsagent)  and you will find so many bottles with 'Drink Me' that you are guaranteed a strange shrinking feeling - a feeling enhanced, I find, after spending a good few hours here... My companion has booked the Nightjar (somewhere near Old St -  can't say more, obv) and we are name-checked at the door by an amiable sort with waistcoast, pocketwatch, twitching nose (ok, I jest - there's no waistcoat). Downstairs the scene is one of low lights, warm dark wood, chink and glint of cocktail glasses and comfortable tables and booths. There's a 1920s-30s speakeasy vibe, a pianist straight from the set of The Great Gatsby sings and plays quietly in the corner and our waitress is a dead ringer for Debbie Harry (without the gum-chewing Brooklyn 'whatchawant' attitude). We order London Sours and a variety of other stuff (don't expect me to remember) - one comes with flames issuing forth, another showered with powder that tastes of chocolate sherbert - a few more and then the Mad Hatter calls time....

Lounge Bohemia, by contrast, has a Cold War schtick going on, it is the sort of place Michael Caine in The Ipcress File ends up after an unfortunate encounter with a Soviet spymaster and hallucinatory truth drugs. The walls are bare concrete, with tables under the arched roof where you can dimly glimpse the (normal) world through the glass pavement tiles. The staff are blank-eyed, the clientele are cool (suits are prohibited) and bakelite jugs of water and trays of canapes are brought to the table. Fittingly my gin and lychee drink is served with a retro maraschino cherry while my accomplice's is tobacco-infused bourbon delivered in a cigar tube, then stirred (with a cinnamon stick) into a glass filled with candy floss.  Needless to say, after drinking this particular truth drug, she told me all her secrets ....