So, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed: I love brunch. I really do. It’s like an extension of breakfast, and what’s not to like about that?
I think my love for brunch originates from a family trip across Arizona, Utah and Nevada when I was 9. We stayed at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for a few days at the end of the trip, and had breakfast every day in one of the buffet restaurants at the casino. We always ended up starting breakfast between 10 and 11, right before the kitchen staff started bringing out lunch foods. The mix of breakfast and lunch foods and the whole, lengthy affair just caught my imagination. Cereal and cooked foods? Really? ^^
I think that’s also when I discovered eggs Benedict and their veggie counterpart, eggs Florentine, which I absolutely love. A good hollandaise sauce can really make a dish. I have trouble resisting them to this day if I see these dishes on the menu: only the fear of a botched sauce or worse – processed, ready-made hollandaise – can keep me from ordering this at brunch.
Although, I suppose that’s not exactly true. These days, brunch has become a bit of a tradition with my friends. I think I’ve tried out every restaurant or café that offers brunch on their menu in my town! Granted, it’s not that big, but still. So as not to get bored, I try to order different dishes every time.
Now, I’m a big fan of the traditional English breakfast for brunch, particularly the vegetarian version full of lovely cooked vegetables: roasted mushroom and tomatoes, homemade baked beans (so much better than Heinz beans), roasted potatoes and fried or, my favourite, poached eggs. Add to that a nice slice of buttered whole-grain toast and a cup of tea, and all system are go.
Last Saturday, however, I tried out a restaurant I’d never been to, and their brunch menu was unlike any I’d seen before: this place has really gone out of its way to offer new, adventurous and innovative options for brunch – most of them lovely and healthy.
This restaurant is Grain Store, a restaurant in Granary Square, at King’s Cross. I’d definitely recommend anyone living in or near London try it.
The restaurant itself is lovely, with brick walls, a large, main dining room and a few, more intimate alcoves for diners to sit in. The staff were all lovely and accommodating, even with diners such as myself who have a tendency to be picky and ask unending questions about the food (think Sally in When Harry Met Sally).
I ended up ordering a dish offering a potato pancake, sour cream leeks, a poached duck egg and Tobiko wasabi caviar, accompanied by a green tea with mint. Not only was it beautifully presented and incredibly appetising, but it was legitimately one of the best dishes I’ve ever ordered for brunch. All the flavours and textures were perfectly balanced, and the wasabi caviar finish added a lovely, welcome zing.
I also ordered a brunch cocktail – something I’m not actually that prone to do. The cocktail menu here, though, I just couldn’t resist. This, my friends, is a celeriac bellini. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I thought it too: celeriac? In a bellini? I mean, it’s a lovely root veg, I love it puréed or in soup, but with Prosecco? I had to try it.
I can’t say I was disappointed: the celeriac added a lovely , subtle flavour of celery and mint and blended really well with the Prosecco. If this strange-sounding drink doesn’t tempt you, however, Grain Store still has your back – you’ll find traditional drinks, like Bloody Mary with a twist, or a zingy Lemon Sherbet Margarita.
My friend ordered a seeded scone with Vegemite whipped butter, herb fromage frais, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – a more traditional brunch meal with a nice little twist. The Vegemite butter was actually quite nice (I am not a fan of Vegemite or Marmite, so if you are, I’m fairly certain you’ll love this choice) and the eggs perfectly cooked, still moist and delicious.
If you live in London, here’s a recommendation for next weekend: to make it the best weekend, start it with brunch at Grain Store. You won’t be disappointed. If it’s as sunny as it was yesterday, sit outside and enjoy the view.