Poached Eggs with Bubble and Squeak

Homa is on Church Street in Stoke Newington and serves mediterranean style food and pizzas, along with a 10-4pm brunch (until 3 pm on saturdays) at the weekend.  I’d say that Homa is a most definitely a solid bet for a more upscale brunch if you happen to be in the area.   Being a little out in the sticks for some, it also has a neighbourhood-vibe and Church Street is definitely fun for a pre or post poke around the shops.  In fact there are several other cafes along the street which look like likely contenders for an afternoon cake and coffee stop, which I will have to return to try on another occasion.

The menu at Homa is quite short, with a few sweet options including pastries and granola and a particularly tempting sounding french toast with poached pears and honey yoghurt (I saw this go out and it looked yummy!). On this occasion however, we opted for a savoury dish each – I went for burrata, polenta, spinach, mushroom and slow cooked egg and my husband had poached eggs with bubble and squeak, cured bacon and a rich and creamy hollandaise. Another contender was the lamb sausages with spicy chickpeas, but today felt like an egg day and so the decision was made.

The combination of polenta, burrata and egg (with a beautiful bright orange yolk postively bursting out of the white before I cut into it) was perfect and felt very indulgent. The polenta was a fat golden square of heart-warming comfort food – squidgy on the inside with a crispskin.   Taking a forkful of polenta and slice of burrata was both rich and satisfying.  The spinach and mushrooms also helped to make me feel that there was at least some healthy (and not purely indulgent) element to my breakfast.

Burrata with polenta, slow-cooked egg, spinach & mushrooms

Burrata with polenta, slow-cooked egg, spinach & mushrooms

My husband’s poached eggs and bubble and squeak was another accomplished dish – perfectly poached eggs and a decent hollandaise.  The bubble and squeak was slightly blander than we had anticipated, but nevertheless a comforting accompaniment to mop up the egg yolks.  The bacon was perhaps the star of this dish – really thick slices of salty-sweet bacon added a delicious flavour. 

All in all I would recommend Homa as a solid Stoke Newington choice and since we are local, we will definitely be back.  It’s always nice to know you have somewhere like this a shot walk from hom.   The brunch menu isn’t as innovative as the approach taken in the antipodean brunch places across London, but the standards are comparable and the dishes perhaps more focussed on traditional favourites with a twist.

 The clientele is young professionals and families, but the prices are reasonable (brunch at around £6-£10 a dish).  It would also be worth coming here for dinner or a weekend lunch, as the pizzas and dishes coming out on the table next to us looked excellent.   

Epicurean Wrap-up

What we had: brunch and coffee/juice (£27 including service)

Go if:  you are local/you want to explore a new part of London with good food along the way

Getting there: 73 Bus to Stoke Newington Church Street (from Kings Cross) or any number of buses up Kinglsand Road from Dalston

Address: 71-73 Stoke Newington Church Street

Homa on Urbanspoon



Brunch at Duck and Waffle

Ox Cheek Eggs Benedict

Ox Cheek Eggs Benedict

Duck and Waffle is on the 40th Floor of the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate. Eating high up or indeed doing anything truly high up is rather unusual in London, being largely a skyscraper-less city. This makes Duck and Waffle a novelty in itself and on a good day, the views across London are incredible. On a less good day, it is more akin to being in a white out at the top of a mountain, but without the alpine feel. The weather on our visit was distinctly more mountain white-out, but nonetheless the glass elevator shooting up 40 floors into the white-out was pretty cool.

Once upstairs, you first enter the graffiti sprayed bar area, which has an open bar in the centre of the room and plate glass windows on all sides. The great thing about the bar is that there is no need to reserve, so if the weather was good, you could pop up here to see the view for the price of a drink (not necessarily cheap, but worth it and inevitably cheaper than the anticipated price for the viewing platform at The Shard).

Moving through the Bar, you arrive in the restaurant, which again is surrounded by plate glass windows on 3 sides (the 4th side being the kitchen) and is laid out in a combination of booths (ideal for parties of 4 or more) and well-spaced tables. On our visit, the atmosphere was buzzy, with most tables occupied by a combination of families/tourists/locals and we snagged a booth right by the window, which was amazing (if you looked down amongst the candy floss of the clouds, you could just about identify some landmarks!)

I have to confess I wasn’t really expecting much from the food – I had read a few mediocre reviews (admittedly not necessarily of brunch), which appeared to suggest that D&W was all hype and didnt deliver. I’m pleased to say however, that on our visit at least, this did not ring true. We had a fantastic time – the food was great and well-priced for brunch (and unusual at times- particularly the Spicy ox cheek doughnut – more on that later)and the novelty of being so high up didn’t wear off! The only critcism was that service was a little ropey to start with, but that picked up too and was unfailingly friendly.

After agonising indecision over the menu, I plumped for Duck egg en cocotte with truffle oil, gruyere and soldiers, the boys had eggs benedict with ox cheek (rather than ham) and my other friend had smoked haddock with potato hash cakes and mustard cream. Everything was delicious. The duck egg en cocotte was served up in a mini cast-iron pan on wooden board, together with the soldiers. The egg was perfectly fried with a bright orange runny yolk and the melted gruyere and truffle oil delightfully rich and gooey. Pefect for dunking soldiers.

Duck egg en cocotte with wild mushrooms, truffle oil and gruyere

Duck egg en cocotte with wild mushrooms, truffle oil and gruyere

The eggs benedict was an interesting twist with the ox cheek and was well-received, even by my husband the die-hard traditional benedict fan. The ox cheek was very tender and (though stating the obvious) gave the meal a much meatier kick.

The fish was another winner (though it had a bit too much mustard cream for my taste), with two crispy potato hash cakes and perfectly smoked haddock.

We were so delighted by our brunch courses (and perhaps also because we are gluttons), we were persuaded to order desserts/another brunch dish. We (tried to) justify this excess on the basis that it was “effectively lunchtime” and therefore acceptable to have two courses, “particularly since we hadn’t had breakfast”. So after scouring the dessert menu and trying to order everything we went for one chocolate brownie with peanut butter icecream and caramel, one maple caramel apples, one cinnamon pear cappuccino with toasted gingerbread and finally, one spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam (off the sweet section of the brunch menu).

Normally I wouldn’t bother ordering a brownie in a restaurant, since whilst it always satisfies a chocolatey craving, it can be pretty disappointing. D&W’s brownie however was surprisingly good – it was served as 3 triangular gooey chunks of chocolate goodness, with 2 chunks of honeycomb caramel, peanut butter icecream and melted toasted marshmallow fluff. It was these accoutrements which made it – it felt like a dessert at a child’s birthday party – naughty, indulgent and fun.

If the brownie was the playful dessert, the cinnamon pear cappuccino was the grown-up’s dessert. Served up in a bowl with a strip of toasted gingerbread placed across the top and dotted with caramelised pear, pear sorbet and apple slices, it looked a picture. The “cappuccino” was a cinnamon infused pear-puree soup which was refreshingly light. The waitress advised breaking up the gingerbread and pear and eating it with the soup and the flavours were excellent together. This was definitely the lighter dessert.

Cinnamon Pear Capuccino

Cinnamon Pear Capuccino

My friend opted for the maple caramel apples, which I think wins the vote for the comfort dessert – piping hot apples in a warm caramel sauce with two pillowy triangular slices of maple caramel smothered brioche french toast and a scoop of cinnamon ice-cream. This was simply delicious (and I think my favourite dessert – I had a bit of food envy to be honest).

Top marks for most “out there” meal goes to the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam. My husband ordered it on the basis that he loves doughnuts. As a friendly word of warning for other doughnut lovers, this is not really very doughnut like (other than the fact that it does appear to be fried). To be honest, it looks more like a large scotch egg, but with the ox cheek where the egg would usually be and the doughnut “batter” encasing it. The exterior of the doughnut is then rolled in spices that give off rather a smoky smell. A forkful of the doughnut with the apricot jam was an interesting flavour, but if I’m really honest, it wasn’t something I’d order again, other than for the novelty factor. That aside, we were pleased he ordered it, just to see what it was like! And it’s certainly the first time I’ve ever come across a meat doughnut.

As a general note of interest – D&W is (I think) the only London restaurant to be open and serve food 24/7. This means you could (if you felt like it), go to D&W at 3am and eat a full meal (though I am informed the menu is more limited during the night). In terms of the dinner menu – I understand it is made up predominantly of sharing plates and there is of course the signature dish of “duck and waffle”, another sweet/savoury pairing which I shall be returning to try.

Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut

Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut

All in all, I would thoroughly recommend D&W for a more upscale brunch, with views that will wow. In terms of prices however we were pleasantly surprised that our double course brunch bonanza with 3 pots of coffee and juice came out at a relatively reasonable £25 a head (including service). Given the surrounds and ambience when we walked in, we were expecting to pay more. Had we have been less gluttonous, and had one course, it would have come in at around £15 a head. Obviously, dinner would be pricer, but I’d say it would be a worth it for a treat.

Epicurean Wrap-up

Address: 40th Floor Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate

Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

Go if: you like innovative food in novel surrounds

Don”t go if: you have a fear of heights

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon

Dukes Brew and Que

Dukes Brew and Que is one of the latest openings in the BBQ trend sweeping London.  It opened earlier this year in a former pub on Downham Road, near Regents Canal in Haggerston.

It does a mean BBQ (particularly the pork ribs and the burger on our visit for dinner a few weeks earlier), together with decent cocktails and beers brewed onsite (hence the name).    It also has a short, yet satisfying State-side focussed brunch menu, serving up good all-American breakfast favourites (both savoury and sweet) such as omelette, eggs, caesar salad etc all with a serving of “home fries” (sauteed potatoes with spices), or french toast and buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup to satisfy a sweet tooth.  There is also a length list of side dishes, enabling you to customise your breakfast, since, as the menu says, everything tastes better with a side of crispy bacon.

Brunch is served all weekend from 11am – 3pm (no reservations are taken for brunch) and was still in full swing when my friend and I rocked up at 1pm yesterday.  We were able to secure a table outside to enjoy the September sunshine without a wait too, which was a bonus.  As usual I was crippled with indecision when looking at the menu and I was torn between going for the “Popeye Omelette” or “Mister Frenchie’s Ravioli”.  The Ravioli sounded intriguing and our waitress explained that it was like a bacon and cream cheese toastie, but with french toast rather than standard toast.   Whilst tempting (and I will try it on another occasion), I felt like a breakfast with some veggies and so went for the Popeye omelette – an American-sized fluffy omelette filled with melting monterey jack cheese, cheddar, mixed peppers, spinach and tomatoes, with a side of home fries.  Boring as this is, my friend also went for the Popeye omelette, so I can’t comment from experience on any of the other dishes on this visit (I tried hard to get her to go for something else!), but from what I saw on other diners’ tables, Mister Frenchie’s Ravioli and the BBQ omelette (filled with pulled pork and beef, with cheese, mushrooms, peppers and BBQ sauce) looked like awesome choices.

Service was great, and our omelettes arrived promptly, together with hot sourdough toast.  All in all it was a satisfying start to the weekend and an excellent pick me up for the morning-after-the-night-before.  Whilst I usually like to go for more creative breakfasts at times, sometimes what you really need is a good solid, flavourful breakfast in chilled surroundings, which combined with bottomless filter coffees and friendly service (where you don’t feel like they want the table back), Dukes’ certainly delivers. I had no complaints. Big Tick.

Epicurean Wrap-up

What we had: Two omelettes and Coffees (with service): £24

Value Barometer: 8/10 (solid value for London and you won’t leave hungry)

Go if: you’re hungry and/or you’re a meat fan

Don’t go if: you fancy granola

How to get there: Haggerston Overground  (address is 33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town)

Website: Dukesbrewandque.com

Duke's Brew and Que on Urbanspoon