On our latest grand day trip to London, Mr M and I found ourselves hunting for somewhere for brunch. Cue a place that I’d walked past on my recent lunch trip to Dishoom. Grainstore is just round the corner, near King’s Cross, and turned out to be the perfect place for a sunny Saturday brunch. Inside it’s a big, what they call ‘industrial-chic’ place, full of hustle and bustle. And outside, there’s quite a large seating area looking out onto Granary Square that sits between these converted buildings and the canal, where in a weirdly idyllic cityscape children were playing in fountains in the sunshine while their parents looked on. All a bit too much like cheesy advert to be real, it seemed.
We, however, were far from a commercial. Nursing tender heads from a late night the night before, we came for sustenance – not a fry up, but a wholesome, healing brunch. Turns out Grainstore was a good place for it, since their menu is predominantly vegetable based. It’s apparently a culmination of chef Bruno Loubet’s travels plus his own beloved vegetable patch and, while lots of the dishes include meat or fish, vegetables aren’t relegated to the wings, they sit centre-stage too. So, probably the best place for two people feeling the effects of some less-than-healthy food and drink the night before.
First up was an array of juices and smoothies that sounded definitely seemed to fit the bill of wholesome and healthy. I went for a Honeydew and Pistachio Cooler – honeydew melon, pistachio syrup and rose water – on the assurance that it was nice and refreshing. It definitely was, with the trademark fresh taste of melon sweetened by the rose syrup.
Mr M’s was more like a breakfast in a glass. He chose the Heidi Smoothie, made of bee pollen, honey, banana, buttermilk and oats. More than a smoothie, it was somewhere between a mixture of banana milkshake and Bircher muesli. Tasty and sweet, but pretty filling too. Had we been feeling more adventurous (and less hungover) we might have hit some of the brunch cocktails – there’s a Brunch Mary complete with horseradish vodka that would be right up Mr Manning’s street, and a Petit Pois Bellini with my name on it. Come on, who could see that and not want to try it?
Appetites whetted, we moved onto food. The menu was packed with plenty of choice, from traditional items like American pancakes to more unusual offerings like cassoulet, quinoa granola and even Cuban vegetable empanadas. It was refreshing to see such an array of different things on a brunch menu, instead of the usual suspects.
I went for a yoghurt and chickpea pancake with spicy chorizo (this was optional), topped with avocado, tomato and jalapeño salsa. The pancake was thick and filling, with the spicy sausage giving it an edge. The avocado was halfway between avocado and guacamole, with big, ripe chunks mixed with some slightly more smashed up bits, along with chopped onion, jalapenos, and various herbs. Rocket completed the dish, and overall I enjoyed a filling and healthy, yet at the same time slightly indulgent, plate packed with a great balance of flavours.
Jamie chose a Kaffir lime chicken burger with Korean slaw on a muffin, with a fried egg on top – about as far from a conventional burger as you can imagine but again, wonderfully wholesome. The burger itself was more akin to a Thai fishcake than a traditional burger, with finely minced chicken mixed with fragrant spices and lime moulded into a patty. The slaw was light and summery, packed with herbs and spices and topped with sesame seeds. The richest part of the dish was the egg, which oozed over the burger and into the muffin once the yolk was broken. The whole thing was light, delicious, and felt rather healthy which was no bad thing after some recent indulgence.
Both feeling rather fixed, we left Grainstore feeling a damn sight better than when we arrived. It’s a lovely atmosphere to enjoy a weekend brunch, and was the perfect start to a sunny day out. It’s refreshing to see somewhere do things a bit differently and offer dishes that are a bit ‘off the beaten track’ when it comes to brunch menus. It’s also not scared to be a bit virtuous, not only with the importance put on vegetables, but with a focus on sustainability. If you’ve seen my past post on food waste, you’ll know I think this is pretty important. So if you’re in London and looking for a weekend brunch somewhere a bit different, get yourself to Granary Square to check it out for yourself. I want to know what that Petit Pois Bellini tastes like!
Have you got a favourite brunch spot? I’d love to hear where it is.
We paid in full for our meal and drinks at Grainstore. They didn’t know I write a food blog, or that I was going to write about this.