Monday, 28 November 2011

A review of The Pavilion

Image by Howard Barlow
Victoria Park, Crown Gate West, Mile End, London, E9 7DE.

I remember coming to The Pavilion before I moved to London and being shocked at how expensive the menu seemed. Now I’ve lived in London for a while, I’ve come to realise that the kind of consistency they deliver is worth paying for.

There aren’t many places that you can go to on any day of the week, even when they’re really busy, and still receive a hearty, spectacularly cooked breakfast. Whether you’re in the mood for a full on fry up or some decadent pancakes (piled three high and smothered with poached fruit and honeycomb butter), you can’t go wrong.

With a menu centred on breakfast, you can feast starting at around £5 although pastries etc. are obviously cheaper. There’s a full hot drinks menu as well as freshly squeezed juices and cans of fizzy pop (organic of course). The coffee is all expertly poured. We had two lattes and a cappuccino on my last visit with a heart, fern leaf and swan casually swirled into the top.

In the summer they pile the tables outside and pretty much treble the capacity. Despite the pond being drained this summer, it’s still a lovely place to while away a few hours and as soon as the water fills back up it’ll be even more idyllic. In the winter it’s a bit more of a squeeze inside. If you’re squeamish around either children or dogs, you might want to steer clear as their entry policy is extremely inclusive.

The Pavilion have a website and are on Twitter.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A review of Nude Espresso

Image from
6 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR
I popped into Nude Espresso on the way home yesterday evening as it seemed to be the only place still open around Spitalfields and Brick Lane to grab coffee and cake at 4.30pm. Although they close at 5 they were happy to serve drinks and cakes and for us to sit in to quickly warm up and refuel.

I had a hot chocolate which was rich without being sickly and they didn’t mess around with cream or marsh mellows, which I always turn down. My other half went for a flat white which was well poured, even though by a trainee. Their house blend seemed quite mellow with the warmed milk, although I did have an iced coffee from here back in the summer which packed a bit more of a punch.

They source, roast and blend their own coffee beans which you can buy for yourself and they also sell them wholesale to other businesses. With their roastery around the corner in the old cooperage yard of the Truman Brewery, the grind all goes on in the East End now, but the business has retained distinctive elements of its Kiwi heritage.

Image by @GarethReidPhoto
To accompany our drinks, we had a lamington, the presence of which pretty much made my day. A dream of vanilla sponge rolled in chocolate icing then desiccated coconut, I have never seen a lamington in the UK before, despite them being 10 a penny in Australia and New Zealand.

Their menu seems to revolve around cakes and breakfast which makes it pretty much perfect in my eyes. You can get some brunch from £2.50 for raisin toast, to £9.50 for a full on brekkie. The cakes are all around £2.50.

My only slight query about Nude Espresso is the rather utilitarian feel of the cafe seating. It’s not cosy, or somewhere I’d really want to while away an hour or so. This is probably its exact purpose - to deter lingerers who take up a seat for hours with only a latte and laptop to keep them company. But it does seem rather a shame for legitimate customers.

The staff were great though. And happily included me in their debate as to whether lamingtons are originally an Australian or New Zealand delicacy. I’ll leave you with that to ponder...

Nude Espresso website, Twitter, Facebook.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A review of Loafing

79 Lauriston Road, Victoria Park Village, London, E9 7HJ

I’ve had a horrid cough and cold lately so haven’t been out and about too much. However, the weather was beautiful today so my other half agreed to a walk in Victoria Park. Bundled up to protect my chest from the November chill, we ventured across the park to Lauriston Road. Stopping first for a swift half of Aspall and packet of crisps sitting in the sunshine outside the Royal Inn on the Park, I soon decided I needed something a little more warming and hearty.

We headed further in to Victoria Park Village and popped into ‘Loafing’, a tiny little cafe on the corner of Lauriston Road and Victoria Park Road. With a stunning window display of cakes piled high on a tower of glassware, I was curious as to the kind of savoury fare on offer. Our first selection was the cheese on toast and salmon and cream cheese sandwich. However, they’d had such a busy day that they’d run out of bread by 2.30pm (seems kind of ironic given their namesake) and only had focaccia to offer us. Going with their suggestion we had one toasted focaccia with mozzarella, olives, sunblushed tomatoes and basil, and another with mozzarella, parma ham and basil. Both were y-u-m-m-y. I had a latte and he had a cappuccino, as usual.

Most of the savoury menu is under a fiver and there’s a good selection of hearty sarnies and salads. A slice of cake is between £2 and £3 and there’s a large cold drinks cabinet as well as a full selection of hot drinks including Monmouth coffee and hot chocolate.

We could only get a table right by the front door and next to the counter so it wasn’t the most relaxing experience, with so many people coming and going. The indoor seating is limited, which I imagine may become a problem as the weather gets worse. However, today people seemed happy to sit both outside the front of the cafe and in its small back yard.

The decor is all distressed wood and vintage tea sets which looks great, but doesn’t make for very comfortable seating. I was perched on a cast iron garden chair, my fella on a rickety wooden one, and neither of us could fit our legs under the small table.

If you’re in the area and don’t fancy pub grub, then definitely give ‘Loafing’ a try. The whole experience was a little stressful, but the food and coffee delicious.

- Loafing doesn't seem to have a Facebook, Twitter or website. An interesting approach to marketing which rather suggests they don't care what people write about them...

All photography by Gareth Reid - @GarethReidPhoto