I’ve already told you, I’m not cool enough for East London.

It feels a bit like visiting that edgy exhibition that pushes boundaries, makes you question the uncomfortable, and leaves you feeling a bit twitchy behind the rope to either touch, photograph or stare what is inexplicably defined as art.
This is how I feel as soon as I cross central, emerging into the depths of the über trendy, often strange realm of what is East.

The thing is, these cool kids are knocking out some damn good food – and to my delight, they tend to be cooking up something wickedly naughty. Cue HOTBOX.

This isn’t new. In fact, if you’re a clever cookie, you’ve already been tempted by the foodporn and made your way to Spitalfields for a feast of epic proportion. This is what I did, and forgot to tell you about it. I’m sorry, I’ve been busy! Don’t give me that look, you’ve had your fair share of foodporn via my Instagram & Twitter @Alessandra_LDN… so no complaining.

HOTBOXHere’s your menu, have a little browse and try to control yourself for the cravings to come. Maybe you can even guess what I’ve ordered… although, unfortunately, it wasn’t one of everything. After serious debate, reasoning and compromise, we made our choice. HOTBOXThis particular brunch managed to tick all my brunch boxes: savoury, sweet, filthy, indulgent, and naughty, with a side of comfort.

We started with a special that sounded too tempting to pass up: slow-cooked beef brisket sandwiched between sweet brioche buns, topped with homemade coleslaw and pickles. HOTBOX

Accompanied by a skillet of creamy mac & cheese, with a perfectly crispy, crunchy top. HOTBOX Beef rib tacos with crispy shallot, rocket, chipotle mayo and chimichurri – good enough for me to admit they satisfied my Mexican food standards. Ay yi yi, I could’ve eaten this all over again. HOTBOXHOTBOX HOTBOX

Last to compete for foodporn glory, the chicken and Belgian waffle. A fried chicken thigh with truffle salt atop a fluffy Belgian waffle, begging to be drizzled with maple syrup. HOTBOXThe action shot of your foodporn fantasies.
HOTBOXThat’s a pretty attractive lineup, if you ask me.

The servers are lovely, and the atmosphere lively, with the extreme comfort food even influencing a few diners to break out in song. Crawl there hungry on a Sunday morning, and I promise your every indulgent desire will be met.

Afterwards, wander around the streets to walk off your aching stomach and admire the aforementioned art: perplexing fashion, captivating street art and stylish shops selling something hip in a vast amount of space, mocking the extortionate rent prices elsewhere.
HOTBOX If you’re in the area, be sure to check out Mast Brothers.
These Brooklyn brothers are artisan chocolate makers, with a factory flagship located in Shoreditch. HOTBOXHOTBOX Tour their chocolate factory, sip special hot chocolate and make sure to pick up some pretty-papered bars as a gift for a friend or sweet treat when you finally come down off your brunch high. The goat milk chocolate bar was a personal favourite, and I’ve been a particularly good friend lately…


Granger & Co Brunch in Notting Hill

Just a quick one to kick off your weekend.

Last week, some friends and I skipped over to Notting Hill for some brunch.
Australian restaurateur and food writer Bill Granger has a casual, all day dining spot cosily tucked into Westbourne Grove. At Granger & Co, the menu features simple, seasonal dishes with heavy Australian influence.

To those of you not from America, brunch is a meal very close to my heart.
Brunch, in the simplest terms, is a combination of breakfast and lunch. But really, it is so much more. Because the two are meals are combined, this means you are legally allowed to eat two meals in one sitting. Brunch means you can pretend to have something healthy for the first part of the meal, and happily have dessert for the second. Brunch means those extra few hours in bed, which you probably should feel guilty for, but you don’t because you’re up just in time for brunch. Speaking of time, brunch means you can spend hours relaxing, catching up and most importantly, eating. Brunch is just amazing, alright? And I’m glad this city is slowly catching on to such a glorious event.

To start off our brunch, we nourished ourselves with an order of the healthiest mixture of ingredients ever.

Granger & Co

Bill’s greens juice is a ludicrously health conscious combination of green apple, cucumber, silver beet, chia seed & young coconut. The juice was refreshing and delicious, but my heart sank a little when brunch sized expectation did not size up. There were literally a few sips of the stuff for the price of what I would expect a normal glass of juice would cost.

For some reason, I continued along the path of health with my order of coconut chicken salad with nashi pear, watercress & avocado. This was simple and incredibly fresh, but lacked a bit of sweetness. Overall, it was still a delicious dish, but may have been interrupted by the most serious case of food envy.

Granger & Co

Food porn alert. You have been warned.Granger & Co

Just look at that.
Look at that, now look at mine.
Now back at that, then back at mine.
Ricotta hotcakes with banana & honeycomb butter. Ya that’s right, honeycomb butter!
Granger & Co Fluffy pancakes with warm, sweet banana and luscious, melted butter.
Granger & Co
One last look… I’ll give you a close up.  
Granger & Co
Needless to say, my food envy got the best of me and my fork may have wandered its way across the table a few times. And because its brunch, I didn’t even have to feel guilty about it.
That juice countered anything bad I ate for the rest of the day, right?

After brunch, we waddled our way around Notting Hill to work off the damage, popped down Portobello Road to check out all the goodies at the market and eventually found the cutest shop filled to the brim with cookbooks. 
Granger & Co
Granger & CoA day well spent, don’t ya think?

What are you getting up to this weekend? Do you have a favourite brunch spot I haven’t tried yet?
Don’t be shy, leave me a comment or send me a tweet @Alessandra_LDN

Hally’s in Parsons Green

Good morning!
I’ve found a great place for you to try. It’s one of those places you don’t really want to share, but I like you, so I’ll let you in on it.
Hally’s is a new California inspired hangout in Parsons Green. There’s a coffee bar for an early morning with the paper, communal tables for an afternoon sprawled out with work and tables in the back for a catch up with friends.
www.alessandrabrian.comI was drawn in one weekend by the delicious looking pastries displayed home-style on the bar. This little guy was feeling pretty sorry for himself as he wasn’t allowed any whilst his Dad slowly sipped his coffee. Wouldn’t you be?
Pearl & Groove Cakes have such darling packaging and yummy flavours like coconut, rum & lime, blueberry & white chocolate and earl grey. www.alessandrabrian.comWe were seated in the back, surrounded by trinkets and objects the owner has collected from local markets.
My brunch date and I were sufficiently starving by now, and thoroughly looked forward to our brunch arriving whilst we chattered away. Lucky for us, the portions are definitely American sized and we struggled* to finish it all. Omelette of chorizo, roasted pepper & spring onion with watercress and sourdough
www.alessandrabrian.comChilli & coriander corn fritters with streaky bacon, avocado, poached egg and creme fraiche *Don’t worry, we persevered and successfully cleaned our plates

I’d definitely recommend their weekend brunch or popping in for breakfast during the week. It’s a lovely atmosphere and delicious food.

Afterwards, we walked off our small feast nipping in and out of shops until I found this beauty. The perfect casual Sunday hat.
www.alessandrabrian.comDo you have any good bird jokes or puns? Leave them in the comments, I love a bad joke. But keep it clean, I don’t want any fowl play.

The Providores & Tapa Room

I’m going to tell you about my new favourite brunch spot in London.

You may have already heard of Peter Gordon’s The Providores & Tapa Room, as it’s not exactly a new kid on the block. But if you, like me, have added it to your foodie bucket list and haven’t gotten around to it yet – I’m here to tell you, GO!

Go now.
Go tomorrow.
Okay maybe book for this weekend after a little lie in, but go!

We pushed past Christmas shoppers and fought against the winter wind down Marylebone High Street to arrive at the warm, little haven that is the Tapa Room.
A crowded café with banquettes lining the wall and communal style, tall tables filling the centre of the room.

It feels very LA and incredibly welcoming – the kind of place you could catch up over a coffee or munch away with a book.

We squeezed past the pastries and freshly made muffins lining the counter and headed up the stairs to The Providores, the restaurant’s formal half. Here we sat down to brunch, where there is an incredible menu filled with innovative takes on brunch classics as well as wild creations begging for me to try.

So we ordered three of the wild ones, and shared.

The Providores & Tapa Room Turkish eggs from Changa restaurant in Istanbul – two poached eggs on whipped yoghurt with hot chilli butter and sourdough or seeded granary toast.
This dish was phenomenal. A little taste of Turkey for breakfast which I could happily indulge in every morning.
The Providores & Tapa Room French toast stuffed with banana and pecans with grilled smoked streaky bacon and vanilla verjus syrup.
This tasted every bit as decadent and naughty as it looks.
The Providores & Tapa Room The Providores & Tapa Room Grilled chorizo with sweet potato and miso hash, a soft boiled egg, garlic labne and star anise cashew nut praline.
This was my favourite dish by far, which says a lot considering I loved them all. The flavour combinations were strange, but married perfectly in each bite.
This is the dish you come back for. Promise me you’ll order this when you go?
The Providores & Tapa RoomThen onto dessert.
Don’t look at me like that…
Don’t all perfect brunches end with dessert? And how could I possibly turn this down?

The Providores & Tapa Room Mint, white chocolate filled Original beans 70% Virunga chocolate fondant with umeboshi, pineapple salsa and coconut sorbet.
See!? Could you say no to that?
The Providores & Tapa Room We certainly didn’t. The Providores & Tapa RoomThe Providores & Tapa Room was an amazing check off the foodie bucket list. This would be the perfect place to pop in whilst finishing up your Christmas shopping on Oxford Street or to go with friends to catch up on your weekend adventures.

Speaking of Christmas shopping, what’s the coolest gift you’re giving this year? I need some inspiration. You can always tweet me ideas @Alessandra_LDN …. #helpme!

Blue Elephant

The Blue Elephant is not somewhere you’d stumble upon, but rather, is a destination worth traveling to. It has been brought over from Thailand and tucked away against the water in Imperial Wharf.

You enter the restaurant away from the modern glass buildings and bustling London streets to be transported to Thailand. Patterned tiles, elephant covered fabrics and towering plants fill the entrance, preparing you for your trip through Thailand. We were seated by the window looking out onto the River Thames and began to take in our surroundings of the vibrant environment with relaxing Thai music playing in the background.

Blue Elephant Blue Elephant Blue ElephantOur darling waitress, dressed in a traditional outfit greeted us and told us that the buffet was at the top of the stairs. We settled into our cushioned wooden chairs, surrounded by decorative plaques and statues and ordered fruity drinks to start off our brunch. I ordered the Pink, which consisted of guava, passion fruit and coconut cream. It was incredibly sweet but refreshing nonetheless. My dining partner ordered the Chiang Mai, which was made from longan, lychee juice and grenadine.

Blue Elephant

After settling in with our drinks, we became enticed by the smell wafting down the stairs from the brunch buffet. We ascended towards Thai food heaven, our mouths watering. The room was divided into three separate sections of starters, mains and desserts, each with a beautiful, overflowing spread.

We made our way around the starters, filling our plates with salads, dumplings and spicy sauces. Each bite had delicious flavour and very different textures. Besides a dumpling and fish cake being a bit too soggy for my liking, the rest of the starters were great.

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Soon after finishing our first course, we were ready for more. We made our way upstairs and began wandering around the selection of mains. Fragrant curries, steaming jasmine rice and mounds of noodles sat invitingly in great bowls resembling Thai cauldrons, bubbling with enchanting foods ready to be piled onto our plates. After each getting our fill, we returned to our seats to taste. Yellow chicken curry with pineapple sauce was divine on a bed of jasmine rice. Stir fried beef with young chilli was tender and spicy. Green vegetable curry was flavoured with Thai basil leaves offering a sweet, peppery bite with each crunchy vegetable.

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We chatted away, observing other diners’ plates passing by and admired the river views with the occasional sailboat. It was then time to make our way back to the buffet for our third and final time. A beautifully decorated dessert table was covered with colorful fruits and traditional Thai sweets.

I ordered a fresh mint tea to have with my dessert and was delighted to find it was served in a darling blue elephant teapot. After deciding it was too big to slip into my bag, as I know it would look fabulous in my kitchen, I began to sample the desserts. Sweet flavours and textures unlike anything I had ever had filled my mouth. Coconut candies and date filled sweets were all pleasantly surprising. A very different dish of kidney beans in warm coconut milk was interesting to try, but not particularly my new favourite. There was also a lovely selection of fresh fruit for a lighter end to such a filling, comforting meal.Blue ElephantBlue Elephant

Blue ElephantBlue Elephant Blue Elephant

Making our way through the restaurant, up the stairs to brunch, wandering around the buffet and eating our way through filled plates was all part of our journey through Thailand and its incredible cuisine. The brunch was delectable, ambiance enjoyable and service was impeccable. Take your family or a group of friends and enjoy a delicious Thai brunch with tastes that are sure to please any palate.

To find out more about their brunch offering, click here and to book a table, click here.