The Gallivant, Rye

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The Gallivant is your perfect weekend hideaway. This former 60s motel has turned chic bistro and comes complete with the motto ‘eat, sleep, beach’. And that’s just what we did.

Reflective of its beachside location the interiors are coastal chic and there is a distinct peaceful and chilled vibe. Think Californian motel with a rustic British twist. There’s an upcycled driftwood bar and a neutral pastel colour scheme throughout which is livened up with statement retro kitsch pieces.

This place is about unwinding and taking life at a slower pace. On top of cosy sheepskin throws and a good selection of board games there is a glorious roaring fire to snuggle up next to. The complimentary sloe gin by reception is an added draw – as is the honesty bar larder which stocks everything from champagne to popcorn. Need I say more?

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Food. Now this is where this place gets really good.

Afternoon tea, which is included in your room rate, is served at 4pm and involves as much homemade cake and tea as you wish to enjoy. Perfect after a breezy stroll along the beach.

Dinner was, as expected, just bloody delicious and as fancy as the menu may appear, it’s unpretentious. Everything from the service to the bistro atmosphere is relaxed. The indulgent menu leaves you with no option but to indulge – it would be rude not to.

As you might expect with the restaurants reputation and its prestigious chefs there is a big focus on local, seasonal and high quality dishes. With 95% of ingredients sourced from fishermen and farmers working within 15 miles, the menu really reflects the local area. The local ethos continues with the wine list – all of their sparkling wines are from English vineyards.

If you haven’t already gathered, The Gallivant is a foodie’s heaven. Plan your stay or dinner date to catch one of the visiting michelin star chefs or Rioja evenings. You won’t be disappointed.

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Staying here feels like the only sensible option and with rooms like these, you’d be foolish not to. The bedrooms are spot on – comfy and cosy with big tubs, marble sinks and Noble Isle products.

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Food heaven continues in the morning with a continental breakfast that comes complete with a DIY bloody mary ‘recovery station’. The cooked breakfast menu offers extra treats to fulfil every breakfast need.

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The location of The Gallivant is an added bonus – just two minutes away is 5 miles of sandy beaches, fresh air and dog walking heaven. Even on a pretty stormy day Camber Sands offered the perfect adventure to walk off all of those foodie sins (and easter eggs).

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Nearby Rye is full of pretty cobbled streets, Georgian architecture, independent traders, antiques and boutiques. Wrap up and go and explore. Also worth a visit is Dungeness, a shingle wilderness which is scattered with abandoned boats and ramshackle cottages. It’s pretty cool, if not a little eerie, especially as a storm was brewing.

Just over an hour from London, The Gallivant is the perfect place to unwind (and eat) and I think it would be extremely difficult to have a bad time here. Just remember your wellies and waterproofs if you’re thinking of visiting before the summer months!

Find out more at The Gallivant.

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Hash E8, Dalston

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Hash is a cosy neighbourhood all day cafe and brunch bar just off the beaten track in Dalston. I’d heard good things and Saturday brunch seemed like the perfect time to visit.

The café itself is pretty small with only a few tables inside and outside so be prepared for a little wait – it’s worth it, I promise. With London feeling a little more Spring like, we grabbed a spot on one of the outdoor tables whilst waiting for a table inside. The street side spot was the perfect location for people watching and to catch the morning sunshine.

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The name ‘Hash’ gives a big hint to the menu – welcome to hash heaven. Beetroot, sweet potato, pulled pork you name it. Whether you’re after a savoury or sweet brunch, they’ve got it.

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Say hello to the breakfast muffins of all breakfast muffins. This ‘Posh Pig Muffin’ is everything you’ve dreamed of and probably more. A tower of chorizo, bacon, black pudding, beetroot hash, manchego and spinach all sandwiched between a delightfully fluffy English muffin. A melt in your mouth meat feast.

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Even the ‘Half English’ was on another level of brunch. The homemade baked beans were soooo tasty and THAT hash brown. I’m already thinking about next time, when undoubtedly, it will be the FULL English that is ordered. You can’t have too much of a good thing.

Drinks wise there is everything you’d expect and a little more – fresh juices, coffee and cocktails. As you might have guessed, there’s no fuss here – atmosphere, interiors and food tick all the boxes for your perfect lazy Saturday spot for a good, honest, simple brunch.

Rawduck, London Fields

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First things first. Don’t panic, I haven’t eaten raw duck.

Rawduck, the sister of Ducksoup in Soho, is a restaurant in London Fields open for all day dining. As I have found out, weekend brunch is a popular time to visit.

The restaurant prides itself on its constantly evolving, globally inspired menu with simple seasonal cooking and robust flavours. The brunch menu is big. Big and eclectic. Some of the dishes sound a bit complicated, but actually what this restaurant does best is simple – eggs, eggs and more eggs.

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Drinks are a big deal here too. There is an extensive menu of homemade drinking vinegars, breakfast juices and cocktails. We tried the spinach, apple, cucumber, parsley and cayenne pepper breakfast juice and it didn’t disappoint.

A lot of love and care is taken and everything has a little twist. By everything, I mean everything. There were chilli flakes (we think!) hiding in the bottom of my hot chocolate, which was a little bit of a surprise.

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Unfortunately Rawduck has an inconvenient menu -there are too many good things to choose from. Not wanting to miss out (and being a bit of a pancake lover) we had a starter serving of the pancakes before ordering our main brunch meal. Way forward.

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So, I’m calling them pancakes. If you are being technical and going by the menu, they are ‘Polenta hotcakes, ricotta fresca and honey’ – whatever they were, they were fantastic. Light and fluffy and sweet. MMM.

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We followed this with the breakfast bap. This isn’t any breakfast bap. This is a breakfast bap that has fallen from heaven. ‘Fried egg, crispy bacon, spinach and harissa mayo’ – it’s a pick it up and get involved sort of thing. Be prepared to get messy.

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Next, we shared the ‘Avocado, poached eggs (10/10) on sourdough with coriander and chilli’. Again, a great success. After some nosing on our neighbours order, I have decided that next time I will be trying one of the broken egg dishes.

The restaurant carefully considers its sourcing and only uses producers in food and wine that are passionate and whose produce is reflective of its background and journey. There is a ‘healthful’ approach to eating  with all of the pickles, ferments, jams and drinks being made in-house. Don’t worry, there are still hot chocolates and slabs of chocolate for pud.

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Interior wise, it’s casual and clean lined. There is a concrete bar and prep area and chalkboard menu next to wooden shelves of wine and jars of pickles. Long wooden tables stretch out from the floor to ceiling windows and there are so many plants. It’s basically a jungle – in a good way. The plant pots that sit along the middle of the sharing tables cleverly work as a divider and are also good for spying.

The staff are super friendly and you feel no pressure to rush your order. The sharing tables make it feel relaxed and the whole place feels really sociable. Just up from Broadway Market and London Fields, Rawduck is in a perfect spot to walk off that inevitable ‘I can’t move’ feeling. The universal sign of a good brunch.

By night its a wine bar and on Sundays they offer a sharing roast. What more do you want?

Kx

Albion House and The Turner Contemporary

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Looking for an easy weekend getaway? Look no further.

I’ve been wanting to visit the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate for a little while. A few days off work gave us the perfect opportunity and we took a little road trip to the seaside, both looking forward to catching the current exhibition by Danish artist Joachim Koester.

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“Koester plays with the art of storytelling through 16mm film, sound and photography, taking you on a journey to different times, places and states of consciousness. From hypnosis and hallucination to the psychedelic, weave your way through Koester’s narratives and experience The Other Side of the Sky.” This exhibition is on until May 8th.

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The gallery is as impressive from the outside as it is inside. It has a distinctive, modern design, is flooded with natural light and offers panoramic sea views. Admission is free, but do remember the gallery is a charity so donations are welcomed. The gallery has a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions so check out their What’s on page to plan your visit.

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After a lovely afternoon exploring the gallery, admiring the views and mooching around the shop, we headed to the gallery café for afternoon tea. Don’t be fooled, it might look simple, but it ticked all the right yum boxes. The homemade cakes in the café are worth a mention too – cake heaven right there. We followed this with a stroll down the beach and watched as the sun began to fade.

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A good day got even better as we headed 20 minutes down the coast to the Albion House Hotel. We checked in just in time to watch a pink hazy sunset over the Royal Harbour from our bedroom window.

The charming building, which sits on the East Cliff overlooking the beach, dates back to 1791 and is decorated with a cleverly chosen collection of French and English antiques. Expect a grand winding staircase, pretty shutters, high ceilings and exposed beams. Where possible, the owners have done their best to reinstate the original regency features. You can tell it’s been designed with a lot of love.

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The hotel has an impressive antique bar with a wall of windows and quirky artwork. We popped in for a pre-dinner drink and after dinner cocktail, both times it was bustling with visitors.

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The dining room is a beautiful space with huge fireplaces and imposing windows which fill the room with tonnes of light and offer great views towards the sea. Menu-wise there are lots of locally sourced, wholesome options. As you might expect, being right next to the sea, fish featured heavily. Not that this put us off and we started as we meant to go on, with the oysters. Three courses later and those stairs to the top floor were an issue…

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Our room, number 11, on the top floor (so.many.stairs) was a gem. Super roomy and nautically themed, with the comfiest bed ever. There was a pretty cutesy marble bathroom too and a combo of quirky antique furniture, modern hanging lights and pretty pressed flowers. I love a good bath and this was a good bath. The White Company goodies (always a winner) and sea view made it even better. Ear plugs were provided, I think to counter the seagulls in the morning, who woke up long before we were planning to. Next time (and there will be a next time) I plan on taking something to throw at them.

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Now for my favourite meal of the day, breakfast – and it was a good one. There was a buffet of baked treats, fresh fruit, yoghurt and a cooked breakfast menu to choose from. Obviously, we had it all.

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We filled our time here by walking along the long sandy beaches and watching the boats bob around the harbour, drinking wine and playing the board games provided in the hotels aptly named ‘snug’. This hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a quiet break a stones throw from London.

Here’s a secret: there is a vaulted cavern in the basement for late night wine tasting.

Kx

 

Crosstown Doughnuts, Soho

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I’d take doughnuts over roses any day and that is why yesterday we went on a doughnut date. Venture into Soho to find Crosstown’s flagship doughnut and coffee bar and expect to find fancy doughnuts with eye-catching toppings and decadent fillings. During our visit there was a constant flow of customers treating themselves, but if you’re lucky enough to pop in at a quiet moment grab a seat at the cosy bar and settle in to doughnut heaven.

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All of the unique, gourmet doughnuts are freshly handmade every day using natural ingredients, so you can expect daily variations and tonnes of toppings. As long as you have a sweet tooth, there is something for everyone.

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Be prepared to drool over the sweet treats on offer. There is far more than your traditional iced ring and it’s tough to decide which one to have. In the end, after some helpful direction from the lovely server, we settled on a glorious selection: Vanilla Custard Creme Brûlée (the shiniest doughnut ever invented), Chocolate Truffle, Tongan Vanilla Bean Glaze, Seven Berry and a Single Series Chocolate. By far my favourite was the truffle, it was so gooey and extra chocolatey.

Crosstown pride themselves on using only the best, locally sourced ingredients to make their doughnuts. On top of this, all of the compotes, jams, glazes, toppings and fillings are homemade too. The sourdough enhanced texture makes these doughnuts something very special. All were seriously yum and each doughnut somehow manages to be the right amount of light, fluffy and crisp. Sweet, but not too sweet and just su-bloody-perb.

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There are mini dough bites too, yes smaller, but no less delicious and super cute. To drink there is artisan coffee supplied by Assembly, organic raw fresh juices from Hackney based Crude juice and natural chai tea all the way from Melbourne.

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It is official, the humble doughnut is a thing of the past. I have been converted. Keep an eye out for Crosstown doughnut bars at all the great food markets across London and treat yourself.

Kx

The Good Egg, Stoke Newington

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How do you like your eggs in the morning?

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Good Egg, originally a street food pop-up, has settled down and found a permanent home on the ever popular Church Street in Stoke Newington.

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The Good Egg serves NYC influenced, Middle Eastern infused home cooking with a twist. Expect a modern take on traditional Jewish deli cuisine. As you might expect, with ex-Ottolenghi baker Oded Mizrahi in the kitchen, the pastries and breads are nothing short of a treat.

Since opening in October it has proved to be a hit and if you don’t book in advance expect to join a lengthy queue. Luckily, there is a waiting list and the cafe will give you a call when your table is ready, which gives you time to explore the surrounding boutiques. You’ll find bakeries, home design stores and florists galore.

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The Good Egg provides the perfect location for day to night dining. It has a relaxed and friendly vibe, perfect for a lazy Saturday morning with friends. It’s cosy, but not too cramped and the space has been cleverly designed with central service stations, high stools and a bar overlooking a partially open kitchen. It’s quirky, with whitewashed walls and shelves cleverly curated with cookbooks and jars.

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To drink there are a range of fresh juices and your usual coffees, but most importantly there is also a good offering of brunch cocktails with a kick. Personally I don’t think there is anything better than a good mimosa to start the day.

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This brunch is about more than bacon and eggs and the one page menu is a triumph. It is creative and fun, channelling New York deli meets Tel Aviv mezzo. Simply, The Good Egg takes on old-fashioned recipes with a modern twist. Passionate about sourcing, the restaurant relies on locally sourced seasonal produce and staff are keen to share their knowledge about where your food comes from. The Good Egg keeps on giving – it works with the local council to provide jobs and training to people in the local area.

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You can expect flavoursome and vibrant plates that taste as good as they look. Sharing is encouraged (and advised) – the ‘For the table’ dishes provide the perfect opportunity.

The colourful, generous portions, served in cast iron dishes or on wooden boards are mouthwatering.  The shakshuka with halloumi (aka baked eggs) was a hit and comes highly recommended. Likewise, the bacon and date pitta went down a treat. The salt beef hash was an absolute dream – so good it was difficult to share.

It really is a good egg.

Kx

The Modern Pantry, Finsbury Square

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There’s not much better than a late weekend brunch with friends, right?

If you live in London the likelihood is you’ve been to or at least heard of ‘The Modern Pantry‘ in Clerkenwell – an acclaimed brunch hotspot with rave reviews – but, the question is, have you tried its sibling? Back in October, Anna Hansen, renowned for her innovative, fusion approach to food opened her second branch in the city. With high expectations and intrigued by Hansen’s new project and somewhat unlikely location, we put it to the test.

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Housed in an imposing grade II listed, art-deco building on the corner of Finsbury Square, it’s impressive from the start. Once inside, the decor is bright and modern. Design wise it’s understated – there are designer furnishings throughout, crisp whitewashed walls and perfectly spaced walnut tables. It’s airy too, with sky high ceilings, grand arched windows and tons of natural light.

On first glance, the sleek design, business district location and smart service could make you believe it is aimed at the more formal clientele. Yes, it’s undoubtedly smart, but there is no fuss or formality. Service is attentive, but easy going and there is an almost unexpectedly relaxed atmosphere. The Modern Pantry isn’t just for brunch either, with a glorious 18 seat tapas bar and private dining room it’s an all day/night affair.

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As for the food, the wide ranging menu takes on traditional breakfast with a modern, globally inspired twist. The Modern Pantry’s philosophy to ‘fuse everyday cooking with modern ingredients’ comes to life and the menu draws on a range of pretty wild ingredients and spices from around the world. Great emphasis is placed on sustainability and traceability too, with produce coming from local suppliers and the menu changing frequently according to the seasons.

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It’s definitely not your ‘ordinary’ brunch and the menu does take a little while to decipher – we quite enjoyed debating exactly what each dish comprised of. Eventually, feeling both adventurous and indecisive, we ordered a selection – from the lighter dishes of fruits and grains to the ‘breakfast special’ (a combo breakfast deal), which seemed the best way to try a range of dishes at once. All were delicious and notably the flavours were as distinctive as the colours bold. Plates are light and healthy too which is always a bonus!

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A highlight was the ‘Kashmiri masala beetroot, carrot, potato and spring onion hash, endive, poached egg, yuzu and moromi miso hollandaise, toasted seeds with tea smoked salmon’. A mouthful to order, but faultless – there are definitely no boundaries in Hansen’s kitchen. Even the fruit salad was special – and that’s saying something, the saffron syrup works wonders.

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A little piece of advice is to keep hold of the menu as it will help you work out exactly what you ordered when it arrives! For dessert (yes, brunch dessert is now a thing) we ordered three doughnuts to share. My only complaint is that, although super tasty and with wholly original flavour combinations, these were teeny-tiny. A little self-indulgent? Maybe.

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Drinks-wise there is something for everyone, from coffees and smoothies to cocktails aptly named ‘breakfast liveners’. Our brunch began with the obligatory order of coffees and swiftly moved onto some glasses of fizz. Take note – there is also a super tempting brunch offer of unlimited prosecco for £15 which quite a few tables were clearly enjoying! As half of our party had cycled we thought this wasn’t the most sensible option and decided to behave. There’s always next time…

Hansen proves again that she is the queen of a good brunch. Head here for a ‘grown up’ brunch with a twist.

Kx