How we brunched:
Jackson & Rye has been on my list for a while. When I speak to Londoners about brunch, most of them go “Oh, you must have tried Jackson & Rye?” But it never quite made it to the top of our brunch list. So it was good, on a cold Sunday morning in London, to finally get the bus back into Soho’s winding streets where this whole blog first started. This seemed to be the Best Brunch Ever aesthetic – hangovers, hot waiters in denim, eggs.
The menu is impressively wide-ranging, offering brunch classics alongside full lunch-fare. However, though many of the options seem pretty standard, Jackson & Rye have their own unique take on most of them, making it that tiny bit different, and unexpected. Case in point, the banana and maple syrup pancakes had no bananas insight, until I realised that they were creamed up in one of the tiny buckets on the side of the plate. Was it delicious? Undoubtedly. Would I have preferred actual bananas? It’s debatable.
The bacon wasn’t thin and crispy, but thick like pork belly and very sweet. It was pretty much as far as you could get from the bacon and banana French toast I ordered at The Breakfast Club, where our journey first began.
I also have to say that Jackson & Rye committed what was, in my eyes, a mortal sin – they didn’t provide enough butter. I ordered a side of sourdough toast, and half a loaf turned up, but with only one tiny pat of butter. We asked for more, and they brought… one more. Still not enough for the three people eating.
Though the waitstaff were undeniably charming, they were actually pretty ineffectual – they kept us waiting and got my drink order wrong. It wasn’t their fault – Sunday Morning on Soho left them packed to the brim and run off their feet – but the whole “brunch in Soho” feel of the morning seemed to be crumbling slightly. We thought back to the pristine service at the Duck & Waffle, the cool white calm of The Lockhart. Maybe we’ve been brunch-spoiled. Maybe we’re just not trendy enough. Either way, despite the food being delicious, Jackson & Rye is not somewhere I’ll be rushing back to.
In my head, I think of Jackson & Rye as our feminist brunch. If you know us in real life, you know that we’re unashamedly feminist people and that it’s a pretty key part of our identity. I design feminist knitting patterns, Hattie writes feminist poetry, most bad things in our life get blamed on the patriarchy… but food is pretty apolitical.
But this was way back in October, and we had spent the day before at the 2014 Feminism in London conference, so we were already full of sisterly joy, and best of all we were sharing the brunch with our good friend (and, yes, one of our favourite feminists) Tilly.
So we were in a pretty great mood, and like Hattie said, it felt good to be returning to our brunch roots. The mood was very cheerful.
So that’s probably why, for me, things like the dodgy service didn’t matter so much at the time. The notes I have on my phone read “really really hot waiters, but they are clumsy and forgetful”. Also “not enough milk or butter – but the presentation was good!” I was clearly feeling generous, and although the tables were cramped and there were things which could have been smoother, the place had an undeniable charm. Although we’ve scrapped our scoring system, this time it’s still worth noting they have the best Twitter account we’ve encountered so far – we instantly had friendly, personal replies from them before we had even left the restaurant.
And best of all, the food. I ordered the Baked Ham and Eggs, which is cooked with lots of spinach and served with a big slab and toast. It was incredible.
All the flavours worked well – the smoked ham was nice and thick, the sauce was creamy and indulgent. There was a great ratio of ham and spinach – it didn’t feel like either was overshadowing the other – and the three eggs were done to perfection. Runny inside, and mopped up beautifully by the toast. I would probably just eat that dish for breakfast every day and never get bored, so there’s that.
In short: great food. Questionable service. Loved it anyway.