8 July 2015

Betwixt brunch & tea; Blixen and The Townhouse, Shoreditch London

London’s East End is so up and coming sometimes it can make your teeth hurt. Bearded hipsters with rolled up jeans cuffs, and fashionistas wearing black hoodies with gold lace trim. Microbreweries reviving the old-fashioned flavour of beer, gin-temples opening for office bods to worship at a glass high-altar and sky-rocketing house prices pushing cockney families and their breakfast eels to the edge of town.

Though, it is revitalising a corner of London that could have been left to rot; a community stuck between the silver sky rises of the financial district and the plush suburbs of the circle line bubble. But hey, who needs to read a history lesson from the eyes of an import (that would be me) when there’s important matters at hand, namely brunch, coffee and cake.

 Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

Lately there have been two haunts catching our attention; one brand new and shiny, one older than the cobblestones. Together they perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Spitalfields. Well, in my humble opinion anyway…


Blixen –

This beautifully designed restaurant seems to have something for everyone. We've popped in for lengthy coffees, watched couples sneak in quicky for jam & toast, spent several Saturday mornings lingering languidly with the ladies, giggled with the staff, counted the beards, witnessed worried office workers hog the wifi and admired the gorgeous interior on every occasion.

Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

A former bank, the rooms have been transformed into an eclectic mix of styles that seems to work somehow. Small tables, larger tables, counter seats, a gorgeous enclosed garden that looks into Spitalfields Market and cocktail bar complete with gilded pineapples. It reminded me of a beautifully curated New Orleans/American South safari collection with the panama lattice fans lazily turning in the morning heat; but in a way that really pleases the soul. And instagram. (Did I mention the time we were spotted and teased on instagram by fellow diners who papped the girls taking their photos in proper blogger style?)

Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

It seems impossible to branch out from my favourite dish now; a cracking Flat White accompanied by a perfectly light and crisp potato rosti with salt beef, poached egg & mustard hollandaise. The thinking (wo)man's gluten free Eggs Benedict. There are no stodgy clangers here, just a light dish with beautifully fresh ingredients. The tender slices of salt beef are a perfect umami contrast with the rosti, crowned with beautifully poached eggs and piquant mustard hollandaise.

Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

The ladies (including Jess who is guilty of discovering Blixen - the Shoreditch spirit is strong in this one) tend to order the pancakes time and time again, and coffee Queen Rebecca goes back for seconds if that is any indication of quality (it is).

Each time we pop in we muse to the name - it turns out to be totally made up, and not related to Santa's Reindeer at all) but to my surprise the chef and assistant managers are Kiwi. We seriously are everywhere...

65A Brushfield St, London E1 6AA

 Coffee Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

The Townhouse -

In quiet contrast just around the corner, The Townhouse celebrates everything quaint with a patina of history. Originally (and still) an antique shop dealing in beautiful curiosities, below the age warped original floor boards of the store dating back to Georgian London, lies a quirky kitchen and tables full of character that can't be manufactured.

The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields

"I have come to realise that what I enjoy most about these objects that I buy and sell is that feeling of connection to a world that was seemingly so different. The connection can be obvious: finding a name written in pencil hidden away, or letters in a secret compartment, carefully tied up."

The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields
It seemed to be one of those days where my camera just wasn't playing ball sadly...
  The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields

The day my cake-hound friend Yannick rounded a group of us up, a cornucopia of cake was laid out in the gorgeous kitchen - beautifully presented cake stands, desserts from the 18th and 19th centuries, a gorgeously professional coffee machine all served on prettily mismatched china.

Honestly, who eats before photos these days? Sfogliatella snafflers the lot of them.

The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields

The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields

We called in advance to check that there would be a couple of gluten free cakes which the owner/chef  happily arranged - and I can vouch for the beautifully cooked chocolate brownie (a lovely balance of cake and soft interior, and meringues sandwiched with cream and raspberries. Delicious.

Any where with a parrot light fitting has to be visited.

5 Fournier Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6QE

The Townhouse Cake and character Spitalfields
 
Ahh hipsters. You are so lucky.

Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

We seem to go through periods of time in the Old Street/Hackney/Liverpool Street Bermuda triangle. Sections of months where each evening seems to begin spent shimmying on the underground to pastures funky. It contains perennial antipodean favourite Ozone, new discovery Lantana (hellow Zucchini Bread), much vaunted Duck and Waffle, the rocking Queen of Hoxton and the outrageously delicious Broadway Market where my kiwi dealer dishes out feijoas – small fruits of New Zealand delight.

Can't complain really.

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