If I had to pick a favourite meal of the day it would be brunch; not-quite-breakfast-and-not-quite-lunch means twice the menu options which, to an extremely enthusiastic eater like myself, is a Very Good Thing. Menu possibilities are endless as both mealtime staples blend together, amazing things are done to eggs, avocado is used prolifically and food combinations up the ante as sweet and savoury chime together – pancakes with caramelised banana, maple syrup AND applewood-smoked bacon? Oh hell yes please! When it comes to brunch I’m somewhat of a super fan.
Recently some of my favourite friends have started Brunch Club, which is basically an excuse for us all to get together each month with the added lure of food and maybe some fizz chucked in for good measure. This month’s Brunch Club location of choice was Beagle which I first visited a year ago with my fellow food-loving blogger and friend Giulia and bar the brunch menu, it really hasn’t really changed at all. No bad thing as I remember thinking that things were pretty spot-on from the off. Located under the railway arches of Hoxton station the restaurant space is separated into two big, bright and airy rooms – a dining room and a separate bar area – with a further third arch playing host to a Beagle cafe, and outside there’s heated seating for midwinter al fresco cocktail drinking. Inside exposed brickwork walls and high arched ceilings create a cavernous but spacious feel and the floors, made from reclaimed railway sleepers, are a dark polished wood that perfectly match the tone of the Skandi-style furniture. One of my favourite features are the light fittings that hang from the ceiling; focal points on a grand scale, the enormous iron candelabra give off slight torture-chamber vibes (!) and perfectly punctuate the masculine, minimalist and – appropriately for a restaurant named after an old locomotive train – industrial design. In fact, railway references are in abundance and it’s easy to see how it won Best London Restaurant at The Restaurant & Bar Awards this year.
Thankfully though, the food isn’t nearly as stark as the decor and served from an open-plan kitchen, the menu has a great mix of comforting breakfast favourites such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, plus twists on the traditional like boiled eggs and anchovy buttered soldiers. Their potent Bloody Mary menu is an adventure to be explored with a wide range on offer; several of us eyed up the Habanero chilli-infused tequila-based Bloody Mary but, on second thoughts, unanimously decided that perhaps that may not be the best way to kickstart a Saturday morning on an empty stomach. In hindsight I’m now on the fence as think it had all the potential to go the other way, with brunch rolling on into dinner and plenty of swinging from those aforementioned iron candelabra which being entirely truthful, would have made for an altogether quite different blogpost!
For my brunch dish of choice I plumped for avocado, spinach, cherry tomato and goats cheese served with poached eggs which, when it arrived, I was quite surprised by as I was expecting it to be served warm. Instead it was a cold salad with the cooked eggs on the top and as it turned out, bloody delicious! A great example of how the lines between breakfast and lunch get blurred to create a dish I’ve since tried to recreate at home.
Having all enjoyed a few Bloody Marys, flat whites and what felt like endless sides of grilled mushrooms, buttery wilted spinach and sourdough toast, when the bill came it was pleasantly reasonable, and that’s another great thing about brunch – it’s a feat for it to ever get into the realms of penny-pinching. Since my visit to Beagle for brunch I’ve actually been back for dinner and had an equally fantastic time. I’ve recently started a LOW FODMAP Diet (Google it) and the maître d’, despite being shocked at how restrictive it was (I think the exact phrase was “bloody hell what CAN you eat?!” – my sentiments exactly), came back from the kitchen with a bespoke menu tailored to me and I got to enjoy a throughly delicious meal. So there you have it, a dining destination that’s so enjoyable that brunch really can roll on into dinner.