Blixen and a toasted banana bread to rival Lantana’s?! (London)

I love meeting people up in Spitalfields and wandering about the markets, but weirdly enough, I’m never eggcited to eat there. There’s so, so much yet nothing at all to eat – or at least, nothing of consequence.

That may have changed. (We shall see.)

I first read about Blixen earlier this year but only finally made it down last Friday for breakfast with my lovely K, and there honestly isn’t anything quite like brunch with a girlfriend to make the mother of all awful weeks just that little bit better. (When I say awful I mean AW-FUL.)

It really wasn’t crowded at all, but I dislike crowds anyway, so I was secretly very pleased by that, speshly since this meant that we got a really nice table by the window and got to bask in the sun!

The people who run it are the same ones behind Riding House Cafe (see post here) and I think the most telling sign is the decor, which, you will find, is very similar.

Menu-wise it’s a lot less extensive. The dishes are very specific, and by this I mean, you get blueberry pancakes or not at all. They don’t spoil you with countless options of what is essentially the same dish. (You know – Eggs Ben, Eggs Royale, Eggs Florentine…) But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing! Not at all! It just means that their menu is free of clutter, and you don’t have to work out what goes well with what because they’ve already worked it all out for you, with each dish carefully crafted out of components that really, really work.

 

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So these are just glasses of water but I was in love with their adorable squarish designs.

 

Cappucino (£3), Cortado (£3)

Cappucino (£3), Cortado (£3)

Cortados are my favourite coffee so I order one without hesitation whenever I see it on the menu.

(I apologise in advance for the weird shadows in the photos – it was that damn window-frame!!!!!!)

Pancakes with blueberries and whipped creme fraiche (£6)

Pancakes with blueberries and whipped creme fraiche (£6)

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The blueberry pancakes arrive in a great stack, very aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. As soon as they set it down in front of you, you’ll be able to smell the cinnamon. So if you don’t like cinnamon then do stay clear of this one, or ask them to hold it, but I do personally think cinnamon is an important component of this dish, so I urge you to try it with anyway.

The texture of the pancakes weren’t the best ever ever everrr but they were still soft and fluffy, though perhaps lacking a little in moisture. I love the flavors going on in this though, and particularly like that the blueberries took center-stage here. Not too sweet or cloying, cooked to a great consistency, and the generous dusting of cinnamon really coaxed the flavor out of the blueberries even more. The addition of creme fraiche was a nice touch as well.

Would definitely prefer these to most other pancakes I’ve had in London, bar Granger and Co’s ricotta hotcakes of course. (Duh.) Much better than the Breakfast Club pancakes, methinks. Plus thumbs-up for generous portions! (For other breakfast/brunch options, see post here – although that list really has to be updated soon, I think)

I couldn’t decide between the baked eggs (was intrigued that it came with lardons, confit duck and aioli, aka baked eggs with FAT, FAT AND FAT, aka the best possible combination) and the croque madame (which came with raclette, jamon and fried duck egg, 3 of my very favorite things). Hmm. So I asked the waitress for help and she recommended the Croque Madame, “hands down”.

And since she was unhesitating, so I was unquestioning. Croque Madame it was.

 

Croque Madame: jamon, raclette, duck egg (£8.50)

Croque Madame: jamon, raclette, duck egg (£8.50)

It arrived with a rather perfect, beautiful fried egg perched quietly atop.

Which just screams for more pictures!


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But enough of the eggsterior! Time for EATS.

Alas, few fried eggs are truly perfect. While this looked like an absolute winner, with a crispy circumference you can only get from a good amount of oil, and very evenly cooked white, I would have preferred my yolk just a tad runnier. Just a tad. I promise we were very almost there.

You see, half of the yolk was still desirably runny.

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My egg woes aside, this was kind of a perfect sandwich, a great take on the classic Croque Madame. Some of you purists may think that the ingredients sound rather eggstravagant for what’s meant to be a simple sandwich but  I completely disagree. The raclette, jamon and fried duck egg are admittedly an eclectic mix, but it definitely works. Raclette is known to be good for melting, and jamon has so much more complex a flavour than normal ham (though I would happily change my name to Stephamie), and er apparently 1 duck egg has your entire day’s worth of cholesterol, so how can you possibly say no to that?!?! Plus the bread had a crispy crust and a sweet egginess that I really appreciated against the intense savoriness of the jamon and raclette.

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Approve. I’ll happily order this again, although I do wish it came in a bigger serving as I liked it so much I was begging for more hehehe. Ok I shall stop now.

Anyway, I ordered a mint tea because I love to eat and drink clean like that.

Mint tea (£2.50)

Mint tea (£2.50)

LOL. No, I actually just needed something for my cold. And to prepare my tummy for…

TOASTED BANANA BREAD!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, I HAVE to have both a savoury and sweet option for brunch whenever possible. It’s only right!

Actually scratch that. When toasted banana bread is on the menu, I need make no excuses. I’ve waxed lyrical about how much I love love love toasted banana bread, and Lantana’s is always great (btw, the Old Street branch that used to be called ‘Salvation Jane’ is now called Lantana as well, see post here and here). But very few places offer it, so I was incredibly excited to see this on the menu, and wanted to see how this one stacked up. The question is: Can it rival Lantana’s?!?!

And the verdict? Yes it can. It really can. 

 

Toasted banana bread with whipped vanilla butter (£3.50)

Toasted banana bread with whipped vanilla butter (£3.50)

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It comes with whipped vanilla butter but of course I had to ask for maple syrup and proceed to drown the banana bread in it. As should you. Banana + maple = awesome.

 

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It comes in thinner slices than Lantana’s banana bread, which meant that the crisp-outside-to-moist-interior ratio was better. But portion-wise probably works out to be the same since here they give you 2 thin slices and Lantana gives you 1 fat slice. The aroma of the banana is stronger in Lantana’s but the taste was definitely present here as well. This was slightly sweeter, but what really made it stand out is the accompanying whipped vanilla butter, which is generously dotted with vanilla specks, and is distinctly savoury (they probably used salted butter), which makes it a great contrast to the sweet banana bread.

And so I can say that I would quite happily recommend this as well.

Overall, I can definitely see myself returning. I don’t know if I’ll be able to try anything new, because I may very well order the Croque Madame and toasted banana bread again. I don’t know if I can give this place my ringing endorsement quite yet, because I have yet to try much here, but as far as first impressions go, I’m very impressed, and, for what it’s worth, am far more likely to come here than Riding House Cafe. Service staff here are very attentive and pleasant as well. Also it was really quite cheap. Oh my, I’ve just realised that the toasted banana bread here is A LOT cheaper than Lantana’s. Hmm……………….

But ok I’m still very loyal and will always love Lantana – do go check it out if you haven’t yet been!

If you happen to be around Spitalfields some time, do come and try their breakfast menu! But if you dare order granola, end up disliking it, and writing to me to complain, I swear I will kill you, dehydrate and bake you to a crisp, coat you in the sticky syrup of your own congealed blood, and have you as a topping over yogurt which I will harvest from the milk in your livers (um, milk-livered = cowardly, in case you were wondering lol). Ok that took an unexpected turn. But yeah Pet Peeve Numero Uno.

Let’s just say Im no longer afraid of having brunch in Spitalfields.

 

BLIXEN

65A Brushfield Street
London E1 6AA

 

Later on I met H in Covent Garden to soak up the last of the afternoon sun. We were just looking for somewhere to chill when we walked by Kopapa, which was extremely empty, so I decided that we should go there as it had been ages since my last visit!

We didn’t have a proper meal here but just for your reference, the items I like off the brunch menu here are the Turkish baked eggs, the chorizo hash and the French toast! I haven’t tried the rest of their menus so I can’t vouch for them.

BUT I CAN VOUCH FOR THIS.

 

Sea salt caramel smoothie (£4.50)

Sea salt caramel milkshake (£4.50)

 

I was craving something cool and sweet and this really hit the spot. It tasted like a melted-down caramel-flavored vanilla ice-cream (which I stress is different from full-on caramel ice-cream, which would just be meh and too one-dimensional), with a good texture – the smoothie was not too thick or icy. The best part was the salted caramel drizzle around the glass, which I was using the end of the straw to scoop up. I’m definitely ordering this again.

And to go with a sweet, creamy smoothie, what else do you crave when the sun is out in full force?

Rosemary fries (£3.70)

Rosemary fries (£3.70)

 

Fries, of course! The bowl that it comes in seems pretty small but there is actually quite a lot in there, and for me to think it’s enough, I’m pretty sure it’s enough for you too. The rosemary aroma and flavour is quite strong.

I promise I’ll do a proper Kopapa post sometime. Can’t think why I’ve never done one.

 

KOPAPA

32-34 Monmouth Street

Seven Dials, Covent Garden

London, UK WC2H 9HA

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