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My January blues banishing London adventure…

However much I love Cambridge, there’s still a part of me that, a year on, yearns to be back living in London. The air of spontaneity and sheer amount of new and exciting places to visit never ceases to lure me in! Having found a food loving, Cambridge-based partner in crime in Miss Igs, we hatched a plan to banish the January blues by going for a day trip, visiting as many of the new places we’d been lusting over as possible. We soon realised we would need to limit ourselves and I set about making us an itinerary, which looked like this and would take us to Duck & Waffle, E5 Bakehouse, Violet Cakes, Salvation Jane and finally the mecca of the dirty burger…Meat Mission.

Once we’d agreed our route we set about trying to secure a reservation for lunch at Duck & Waffle…we were nervous wrecks waiting for the confirmation to come through, checking our phones constantly (not a rare occurrence anyway ;)), but finally it came and one sleepless night later we hopped on the train to the big smoke and headed straight to Heron Tower near Liverpool Street Station and up the frighteningly speedy lift to the 40th floor!…

I was (literally) in heaven!

We’d seen some chatter on twitter about some not so friendly door staff and a strict dress code and I am very happy to report that we didn’t experience any problems with either and couldn’t have been greeted or treated any better!

We’d been drooling over the menu on their website already so pretty much knew what we wanted to try…

Duck & Waffle menu

Duck & Waffle menu

We felt it only right to celebrate the day by starting with a Winter Negroni…Bombay Sapphire Dry, Martini Rosso, Compari and Anitca Formula, raisin, date and roasted chestnut – rested, bottled and capped…

It was divine and packed a real punch 🙂

We decided to order a few dishes and share them, starting with the foie gras ‘all day breakfast’…

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A slice of toasted brioche, spread with nutella and topped with foie gras, deep fried black pudding balls, gorgeously thin bacon and a quails egg. It may sound a bit random but I am here to tell you that it was AMAZING, who would’ve thought that all those flavours would work so well together, but they did!

Next up we were presented with a paper bag, sealed with the Duck & Waffle crest…

which held our bbq-spiced crispy pigs ears…

and then the dish that we’d both been really intrigued by, and who wouldn’t be…the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam…

A gorgeously spicy ox cheek concoction surrounded by melt in the mouth, fluffy doughnut and covered in smoked paprika and sugar. My only slight criticism of this dish was that the smoked paprika was so strong that it overpowered the more delicately spiced ox cheek. But nothing was going to stop me devouring my half!

We couldn’t go to Duck & Waffle and not try their signature dish, the Duck & Waffle…

Waffle topped with crispy confit duck leg, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup…

The duck was so tender and everything worked so well together…the guys at Duck & Waffle really know their stuff!

I was totally bowled over by D&W, it was even better than I had expected, amazing food, friendly service and the most awesome view!

Just check out the private dining room…

Duck & Waffle private dining room.

I would recommend it to anyone and probably will bore everyone senseless by doing so for the next while!

We eventually dragged ourselves away to continue on with our day’s itinerary, next stop E5 Bakehouse situated in an archway close to London Fields Station, where they bake artisan breads on site as well as delicious looking cakes and coffee…

Much to our amusement we found ourselves in the middle of a photoshoot for a Scandinavian start up company and stayed a lot longer than anticipated thanks to our photogenic hands (luckily they were more interested in our hands and our addiction to our phones than our faces!). We finally managed to leave after signing a release form and being promised cloud based fame, not forgetting to pick up a loaf of Hackney Wild, a delicious pain de campagne style loaf, on the way out.

Our next stop was Violet Cakes, who tempt me daily on Twitter with their cake porn…

It was great to see where the magic happens and although it was very sweet, the atmosphere was slightly lacking during our visit :(. We sampled a very yummy (if slightly overpriced at £2.80) cinnamon bun…

Our penultimate stop was Salvation Jane, sister cafe of Lantana (which I love and blogged back in 201o here). Our visit turned out to be at a bit of a strange time of day, when lunch had finished and dinner was yet to begin, and we had the place practically to ourselves…

We were happy enough to sit back and relax and peruse the menus for next time! I was also very happy to discover that there sold Little Creatures, a pale ale brewed in Freemantle, Australia, where I spent a very memorable birthday a few years ago…

It was probably a good thing that we didn’t get to eat at Salvation Jane as we needed to save as much room as possible for our burger eatathon at Meat Mission

Meat Mission is the newest member of the Meat Wagon, Meat Liquor and Meat Market family. I don’t know how I’ve managed not to visit any of the above, that is, until now!

We arrived for an early dinner at 6pm and got to choose out seat. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the BEST thing on the menu so asked our lovely waitress for her advice…she told us that the Dead Hippie burger was the must-try burger and highly recommended the monkey fingers ‘battered fillets of marinated chicken slathered in house-made chili sauce with blue cheese dip’. We finished off our order with a 2 pint flagon of Brooklyn Lager, which was so big it took a joint effort to pour 🙂 and some deep fried pickles (or gherkins to me).

The Monkey fingers were ridiculously tender and had a good after burn on them, which worked really well with the blue cheese dip. The mysterious dead hippie sauce was a nice addition to the burger, a kind of tangy mayo. Although it was definitely a good burger, I think I’d put the idea of it on such a pedestal in my mind that it would have been bloomin hard for it to measure up!

Full to the brim and overflowing with inspiration we got on the train back home to the Bridge. Hopefully the first of many ‘research trips’…we’re already planning the itinerary for the next so watch this space!

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The light at the end of the tunnel

It’s been a bleak old week in my world but the black cloud that has been stationed above my head, much like the volcanic ash cloud which is lurking over Britain, has finally started drifting away. I’m a simple soul and in most cases like this a good coffee, cake, yummy meal or in this particular case, a trip to a fantastic cafe is the answer!

Just over a month ago I was doing a recce of Kaffeine with a friend and we got chatting to a guy on the neighbouring table, who wondered why I was taking photos of my coffee. He enthused about a little cafe in Charlotte Place called Lantana and told me that the owner had started a blog about her experience of starting her cafe from scratch. As people who know me are probably all too aware, this subject is very close to my heart, I’m very happy to chew anyone/everyone I meet’s ear off about my own cafe dreams! So, as soon as I got home I googled Lantana and found the blog in question. I started from the very beginning and read every post until I was up to the present day – it had me hooked! This, along with inspiration from reading Gary Vaynerchuks book ‘Crush It’ was what made me start this very blog.

But anyway, I’m going off on a tangent…the point of this post is that I finally made it down to Charlotte Place on this most gorgeously sunny Saturday morning and here’s what I found…

I think I must have been looking a bit lost because I was trying to decide whether to sit outside in the sun or inside where I’d feel more of the atmosphere of the place. But I was soon approached by a lovely friendly waitress who sat me at a vast varnished plywood bench at the front of the very shop, where the window was wide open, looking out onto the street so I got the best of both worlds – perfect! To top it off I had a selection of every weekend magazine/newspaper available laid out right in front of me.

I ordered a flat white to tide me over while I perused the menu

the coffee was nothing short of dreamy. It was smooth, creamy, not to mention a work of art. The menu was a nightmare though because I wanted EVERYTHING on it! I finally settled for a ‘grilled haloumi stack, mushrooms with herb pesto, corn fritter, sautéed spinach, and roast tomatoes served with wholemeal sourdough toast’ and was assured by the waitress that I’d made the right choice.

When it arrived I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed –

Every single element of the dish was delicious and the only criticism I have is that I had to add a bit of salt to the sweetcorn fritter, which wasn’t the end of the world!

After devouring my brunch and all of the weekend papers, I was toying with ordering another coffee but decided that that would be a little bit excessive and anyway the cafe was really busy, with people queueing for tables. I took pity on a lady who obviously had her eye on my window seat and eventually dragged myself away, stopping by on the way out to tell the owner how much I had enjoyed it! Great work Shelagh! There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back!

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