Every year I get ridiculously excited (for a 30 something) about pancake day. I think the feeling is hard wired into my brain. For as long as I can remember, at this time every year, I couldn’t get home quick enough. No need to ask what’s for dinner, no enforced balanced meal, just as many pancakes as I could imagine and the toppings of my choosing. Even as an adult, when I could eat pancakes any day of the year if I wished, I get the same feeling.

Of course I do eat pancakes at other times of year. But lately, James and I have had a few brunches where the pancakes on the menu have run out. This left me with pancake cravings that only increased as we got towards today. So we decided on Saturday to go to Where the pancakes are. Pancakes guaranteed.

You can book, but I left it a bit late so we decided to go early instead. Like 9am early. Now you could call this meal breakfast but these days brunch seems to define the type of meal you’re eating rather than the time you’re eating it (unless you go down the route of brinner, breakfast dessert etc). So let’s call this brunch.

We ambled along the quiet streets of Borough before spotting a curious door.

You’ll find the pancakes in a place that’s just opened up – Flat Iron Square. A sort of indoor/ outdoor food area, with three restaurants, four street food vendors and a few bars. (I have a feeling it’s going to be popular when the weather warms up!)

It didn’t take long before we spotted the archway of choice.

(You’ll immediately notice the decor is Instagram worthy.)

We ordered coffees and checked out the menu. Although, we’d pretty much made our choices on the way there thanks to the internet and a hungry appetite.

In case you also wonder what a Spanish latte is, it’s a double espresso with condensed milk. A bit too sweet for me but James loved it.

We both went for the American, a stack of buttermilk pancakes, bacon, blueberries and maple syrup. I wanted to try something different like the ‘hummingbird’ with its cinnamon poached pineapple, but I wasn’t feeling adventurous and figured it would be a good excuse to go back.

Not much longer later a steaming stack of delicious pancakes arrived.

Light but more substantial in that buttermilk way. Hot so the maple syrup absorbed right in. Bacon just how I like it, crispy. I managed it down to one last bite, which I felt would tip me over the edge into being too full.

Satisfied our brunch pancakes cravings had been fulfilled, I got to plotting pancake day.

Do you love this time of year? Where have you had the best pancakes so far?

You can find Where the pancakes are here. Booking details, opening times and the menu are up on their website.

In case you’d prefer someone else to flip your pancakes, it’s open till 11pm for pancake day this year 🙂

As you might expect, London does the hotel restaurant quite well. Far from the buffet English breakfasts of the UK’s favourite hotel chains (the saviours of post-wedding hangovers), in the capital you’ll be able to find a more sophisticated offering. From the luxurious heights of Claridges, to the cosyiness of The Hoxton Holborn and the uber-trendy Ace Hotel. There’s something for everyone. But you don’t need to spend a small fortune in an overnight stay to sample the style each hotel has to offer.

Artist Residence was the latest boutique hotel to catch my attention with its restaurant The Cambridge Street Kitchen. It takes its name from the street where you’ll find the hotel, tucked away in the lesser explored neighbourhood of Pimlico.

James and I booked brunch there all the way back in August, when the leaves were full of trees and the sun shone high in the sky (doesn’t summer seem like a lifetime ago). I had decided that brunch would be my birthday meal of choice. Since we could book a table at The Cambridge Street Kitchen (only a week or so beforehand) and the reviews I’d seen around then were pretty positive it was a no-brainer.

High on birthday love from family and friends, I practically skipped my way to brunch. I was only stopped in my tracks by temptations to walk amongst the tall townhouses of the area. But after a short walk from the station we spotted the red striped awnings and stepped up our pace.

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The Artist Residence in London offers just 10 rooms, befitting of its boutique status. I’ve longed to stay in one of its three locations (you’ll find them in Brighton and Cornwall too), the interiors are modern yet cosy and they’re all in great locations. (Check out Giulia’s post for a sneak peek and her usual brilliant food photography.)

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We took our seat by the window.

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And ordered coffees.

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They use Allpress at Cambridge Street Kitchen and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint.

As for the food menu, I’d chosen what I was having long before I’d arrived. So it was just down to James to make his choice. Whilst he pondered a menu full of fresh, organic and locally-sourced (wherever possible) produce, I enjoyed our surroundings.

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The warm wood and brown leather, against the white wash walls, seriously cool lighting, colourful prints and soft furnishings made it feel warm, cosy and welcoming whilst being modern and fun.

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It’s enough to distract you from hunger until your food arrives.

I predictably went for the star of the breakfast menu – banana pancakes, vanilla cream and maple syrup.

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Once you’ve seen a stack like this you’ll find it hard to resist. They have certainly perfected the american-style pancake, producing the lightest and most fluffy pancakes I’ve had in London so far.

James ordered eggs benedict with a side of sausages and although regretting his choice after seeing my dish arrive, he thoroughly enjoyed his all the same. With no photographic evidence to provide, you’ll just have to trust him on that one.

The service was good, the atmosphere was relaxing, the prices were affordable and the food was tasty. Overall, a London brunch you should try at least once.

Have you had a good brunch worth recommending lately?

You can find Cambridge Street Kitchen here. You can take a look at the menu and book online through their website.

Ladies and gents, I have finally had brunch at Duck & Waffle. I’ve never been the leader of the pack when it comes to restaurants, much preferring to let others check it out first and report back, but fours years after the restaurant opened its doors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is a long wait. Since then I’ve dribbled over Dan Doherty’s Instagrams (enjoying countless virtual sunrises/sunsets too), let my stomach rumble over review’s like Jaime’s and imagined what my brunch order would be a good few times.  Finally, four of us found the perfect excuse for the brunch treat, Lucinda’s birthday.

You can only book up to two months in advance and it does get booked up. This actually works well for those hard to secure, needs planning weeks in advance sort of catch ups, but is a bit tormenting when it’s quite a long time until you actually get to go there. That said, time flies these days (is it really June next week?!) so before I knew it we were hurtling our way up in the glass lift to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower.

Once my ears had popped and I’d steadied my feet from the ride, I had chance to take in my sky-high surroundings.

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The bar greeted us with sparkling chandelliers and the kind of blue tiles I wouldn’t mind putting down in my own home. The contrast with the large graffiti wall lets the place get its stamp of trend-appeal. It’s a great place to grab the first Mimosa of the morning, like Lucinda and Ben, who had eagerly arrived a bit early for our booking (or I was running just a tad late and thirst had got the better of them…)

Our table was ready on arrival and we were taken around the corner to be seated.

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I was fully expecting a huge restaurant, but Duck & Waffle is rather modest in size. It partly explains why it’s so popular and always fully booked at brunch.

I expect the second reason is the delicious and at times slightly daring menu (crispy pigs ears anyone?). The four of us had pretty much decided on what we were having before we arrived. Three duck and waffles and one full Elvis were ordered.  They turned up after just enough time to catch up and feel super hungry for our dishes.

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Which is a good job when you have a waffle, duck leg, a duck egg and a shot of mustard maple syrup placed in front of you.

Then there’s the ‘Full Elvis’, which was mine of course, that the waiter had warned would be an effort to finish and cheerfully brought to the table with a wink.

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A whole soft waffle, topped with peanut butter, jam, banana brulée, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and chantilly cream. It was epic and I managed to eat almost all of it but I thought I should let James try some 😉

The final reason it’s on a lot of brunch wishlists is THE VIEWS. Forty floors up at the edge of the City grants some pretty amazing sights across the city and a great close up of the Gherkin.

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It was the London Marathon that day and I think we had one of the best views of the runners going past. Sure, it’s not the same as the atmosphere on the ground but it really does give you a sense of the scale of the event!

The vastness of the capital is pretty apparent from this view too.

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Life gets dwarfed by the sky scrapers that surrounds it and the quiet countryside you can just about glimpse seems so far away.

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We decided that our experience wouldn’t be quite complete without a farewell drink at the bar. Three Mimosas and one Celeriac & Bee Pollen Bellini were ordered.

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I was clearly embracing being the odd one out, choosing a slightly savoury cocktail of celeriac juice, bee pollen liqueur and Prosecco, over the classic freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne. But I enjoyed the unexpected flavours and it reminded how much talent there is in London when it comes to creating original cocktails. It’s part of their ‘Drink your greens’ menu and I could easily have worked my way through a few more.

Duck & Waffle is definitely the kind of brunch for a treat, a celebration or to impress a visitor with the views and food.  The service was good and efficient, the food was delicious. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth adding it to the list for those views alone. I’m still pretty keen to go back for sunrise and more waffles.

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Duck & Waffle can be found here. All of the details (including menus and online bookings) can be found on their website.

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Have you had brunch in the sky at Duck & Waffle? Have you found a favourite place for brunch I should try next?

The choice of great places to eat in London can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when you need to make a quick decision like where to go for lunch. There have been a few times when my brain goes completely blank, I know there’s a list of places I want to visit but can I think of one of them? Nope. Luckily, in the last year or so there’s one place that’s become my go-to Soho option, Kingly Court.

Accessed through a small entrance off Carnaby Street, Kingly Court could easily be missed. It was originally a place to find boutique shops, the only time I ever went in there was at Christmas to see it decked out in twinkling lights. But over the last couple of years some great restaurants have moved in and I’ve been slowly working my way around the options. I’ve shared the brilliant Cahoots before, this time I thought I’d share one of the latest additions up on the top floor – Le Bab.

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Le Bab’s unique selling point is its gourmet kebabs brought to you by Michelin-trained chefs.

“We combine brilliant seasonal ingredients and the wood-fired flavours of the Middle East, near East and South Asia. We cook on a wood and charcoal-fired robata.” (Source).

It’s more the kind of food you might expect to find on holiday than in your local kebab shop. The beautiful blue-tiled decor and bright light helps create this atmosphere from the outset (if only we had the beautiful warm weather to go with it!)

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James and I decided to go there for lunch on a bit of a miserable Saturday afternoon as a quick pit stop whilst shopping (another bonus about Kingly Court!). We’d missed the main rush arriving after 2pm, so the restaurant was pretty quiet.

I decided a cocktail was in order, it was a Saturday afternoon afternoon and went for a refreshing Passionfruit Caiphrina.

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Tangy, tart and pretty easy to drink.

We were hungry but we weren’t starving so we both went for the main event and ordered a kebab.

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They’d ran out of the pork James wanted to try so we twinned up and went for the Corn fed chicken shish; Squash hummus, pickles, chicken crackling, Le ‘Bab toum, biber, heritage carrot tops. It all tasted deliciously fresh, there were some great flavours (I just love that chargrilled meat flavour, it totally reminds me of BBQs and holidays) and they’d obviously thought about the textures too.

I couldn’t resist the idea of the fondue fries so we shared a portion.

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The chips were great but I wasn’t really wowed by the sauce. It arrived with a bit of a skin and tasted like gravy, when I was sort of expecting something more cheesy.

Overall, I thought it was a great addition to Kingly Court. Le Bab offers a simple dish packed with flavour, that was fairly reasonably priced for central London, in a pretty and relaxed atmosphere. The service could have been a bit quicker but it wasn’t really complaint-worthy.

Le Bab is open Monday to Saturday, 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 11pm, and Sunday 12pm – 7pm. You can find Kingly Court here.

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Have you been to any of Kingly Court’s restaurants? Have you found a favourite yet?

Even after James and I moved in together I never thought we’d really find the need to organise date nights. I guess I just assumed we’d spend more quality time together since we were going to share a little flat and we’d go out for dinner and do nice things as we always had. A year on, over half way into my 30th year with a 2016 full of weddings, hen dos, stag dos, 30ths, and not very many free weekends left, having to consciously make time to put the effort in and do something nice together is inevitable and I’m starting to come around to the date night concept.

The fact that it’s a fun way to finally make sure I visit a few restaurants on the list has nothing to do with it… 😉

Saturday night is probably the best example of a 2016 date night, a cosy meal at The Little Taperia in Tooting. Obviously I’m not going to take a big DSLR on these evenings, so advance apologies for the poor iPhone quality snaps! But this neighbourhood restaurant features on the 2016 wishlist and has been on my visit list since I walked past it last summer, so I had to share it either way.

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The Little Taperia is a tapas restaurant just a five minute walk from Tooting Broadway. Whilst it sits on a busy road its got that neighbourly vibe that seems to be making Tooting such a popular place to live or eat. It’s run by the same guys behind The Little Bar, which is pretty much what it says on the sign and you’ll find craft beers and cocktails on menu. I’ve been to the bar a couple of times since living in the South West so I was expecting the same casual vibe that greeted us when we arrived at the restaurant.

They don’t take bookings for tables of less than 6 people so I thought it was best to arrive early. 6.15pm and it was empty enough to take a quick snap of the bar.

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Half an hour later and the place was full, so I was feeling a smug about a slightly earlier-than-your-usual date time.

I started with the Blackberry G&T, refreshing and a random reminder of the fact that gin is big in Spain too (something I remember being surprised about learning at Tapas Revolution perhaps because there are so many London distilleries, and yes I do love tapas.)

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Check out those floor tiles! My feet and phone we’re itching for an #ihavethisthingwithfloors moment but I figured trying to take a photo from an awkward angle is probably not date night protocol.

We ordered 5 dishes to share between us as that’s usually just enough for our appetites. The Little Taperia is well-known for its Morcilla Scotch eggs and Salt Cod fritters, but I haven’t got over my egg hatred and I’m not keen on sea food so they weren’t on the order I’m afraid! Instead, we went for some of our favourites…

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Patas bravas, I’m a carb fiend after all. Always a good choice and they didn’t disappoint.

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Escalivada (Catalan grilled vegetables on toasted sourdough). The only cold tapas dish we chose. I enjoyed the fresh flavours against the meat and carbs we’d ordered.

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Albondigas (essentially lamb meatballs, I shamefully had to Google it.) A simple dish but it worked well with everything else.

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Chickpea and chorizo stew, a dish from the specials menu. I liked this dish as the chickpeas were nice and soft and the broth had a nice spicy flavour, but for some reason I was expecting it to be a bit thicker in texture and I discovered I seem to prefer the flavour of chorizo sausage baked or fried rather than in a stew.

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Finally, croquettes, because you can never not order these right? Oozing cheese, smokey ham wrapped in potato and a crispy crumb. Yum. I’d probably eat these on their own (I certainly have done so with the cheesy M&S ones!).

A great meal for a really reasonable price (less than £25pp). But food aside, what I really liked about it was the neighbourly and friendly atmosphere. It’s big enough to have a buzz but not so big to feel overwhelming and impersonal. Whilst the tables for two are close to each other, it’s not so close that you’re forced to shout over other conversations. The candlelight making it even more suitable for dates. It’s a great option to have around the corner for future date nights, family visits and friends from out of town.

One of the many things I love about London is how each neighbourhood has its own charm and you can find some great food options just on your doorstep. What’s better than a date night where you don’t have to go very far to find someone else do the cooking and washing up?!

You can find The Little Taperia here. The full tapas menu is here.

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Do you enjoy date nights? Is it something you do with friends or even siblings? (I’m starting to think the idea could be applied to other relationships!)

“I don’t have brunch often enough” was the first thought that came to mind as we took our seats in Blixen’s lush garden room. The luxury of having lie in, someone else cooking up the first meal of the day (and not having to pop to the nearest shop to grab something because you forgot that you eat breakfast at home at the weekend), and then delving into something so much more tasty than anything you could whip up with bleary eyes. I’d have brunch every weekend if I could. But maybe the excitement of indulging in the city’s favourite meal, discovering somewhere new and ticking off a place that’s been on the list for a while wouldn’t have felt the same when we opened the restaurant door on the borders of Spitalfields Market.

Blixen opened earlier this year and I’m pretty sure it’s been on my radar since I saw it pop up on Clerkenwell Boy’s Instagram feed. I forgot about it for a while and then I read Emma’s blog post and it was on The Weekend Edit and permanently added to my to do list.

James and I have only a few spare weekends together before the end of the year that don’t involve weddings, celebrations or study (for James) so I grabbed the opportunity to book in brunch a bit more further afield than South West London. Happily discovering that Blixen take bookings, on Saturday morning we arrived ready to steady our rumbling stomachs. We were guided through the modern dining area (similar to Granger & Co in some ways) and out into its more relaxed garden room.

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I’m definitely a fan of the botanical trend right now.

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There’s something welcoming and homely about it, don’t you think?

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Perfect for a spot of brunch.

We ordered coffees on arrival.

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And then contemplated the menu. The upside of not brunching too often and eating the first meal of the day later than usual means it’s OK to be a bit greedy. We both ordered smoothies, a brunch starter if you will. I chose ‘End Strife’.

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Banana, pineapple, lime, agave, flaxseed, pink Himalayan salt. It was good and felt quite saintly compared to the main dish.

James went for the ‘Prevent Danger’.

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Black grape, plum, manuka honey, blueberry, cinnamon, anise. Obviously I had to have a taste. It was nice but I wasn’t over keen on the cinnamon flavour that came through quite strongly (in my opinion).

The mains arrived whilst we slurped on our smoothies. James had ordered the bacon and fried egg sandwich, with gem lettuce and tomato jam.

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And exclaimed that the bacon was nice and crispy.

I ordered the pancakes with blueberries and whipped mascarpone (it’s hidden behind the stack).

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YUM! It was just the right portion for brunch and I liked the warm blueberry topping.

I wandered into the main dining area and the whole place was packed.

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A sure sign of its popularity.

With stomachs full of brunch and minds contemplating our next brunch choice, we paid up and went to wander around Spitalfields Market.

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I’ll definitely be back one day Blixen, I just have to work my way through a few more London brunches first!

Prompt service, buzzy brunch atmosphere, good food and decent value for money. If you’re looking for an excuse to enjoy the luxury of brunch Blixen should definitely be considered.

You can find it here. All the details and a full menu can be found on the website.