…And we’re back. Sorry, everyone, for the delay in getting these reviews up… but as classic 90s soft rock band Sister Hazel say, life got in the way (what? No one gets that reference? No one at all?)
Amy and I needed to complete the trifecta of Granary Square brunches by going to Grain Store. We have to confess, it was the one we were least enthused about. Even though I’ve been for dinner before and found the food to be sensational, the “heroing the vegetable” approach just leaves me feeling a little uninspired. Still, we’re dedicated brunchers, and we went.
Grain Store is a lovely place to dine. Its high ceilings mean it’s never too noisy, the huge open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant is lovely to watch, and the staff are friendly and attentive. It also has a menu sure to suit any palate, with plenty of vegetarian options and even vegan options, unconventional dishes and classics.
I ordered smoked salmon and scrambled egg, but it was unlike any I’d had before – instead of toast, it came with an incredible crumbly and subtly spiced scone, and a herbed crème fraiche that really cut through the richness of the dish. Everything was perfectly in balance – the chefs at Grain Store are creative and incredibly clever.
We also got the onion bread and whipped crème fraiche butter for the table – I love bread and butter and it seemed the right thing to order. And a Heidi Smoothie to wash it down – sweet and filling from the oats.
Grain Store is great for a special occasion sort of brunch, if you want to be a bit adventurous. It’s hard to find fault with it. Still, if I was going to choose one of the Granary Square places for brunch, it’s not this one I’d head back to. Brunch, for me, needs to be a bit more familiar, more comforting.
Okay, look. Sometimes you start a brunch blog, and then you create fun fortnightly features, and then you have jobs to go to and friends to see and episodes of Pretty Little Liars to catch up with. And then sometimes three months will pass by without writing a review. WHATEVER, INTERNET.
Luckily, we’re back now, and we do still care a lot about eating brunch and then telling you about it.
In this case, we had two separate but lovely visitors: our university friend Katherine, and my best-friend-since-primary-school Phanida, neither of whom had met the other before. But I was pretty confident they would get along – they both love books and being the nicest people on the planet, so it was a good mix.
One of the fun things about living in London is that it makes more sense for non-London friends to come and visit us, not the other way around. Last summer we lived in Chelmsford and spent the summer driving around the country every weekend, which was fun but tiring. Nowadays the furthest we have to travel is the other end of the tube map.
It’s also a great excuse to take people out for brunch. What better way to introduce two friends than to go to a lovely restaurant, pass around a menu, and try to figure out what a “heritage tomato gazpacho” might be?
(I’m still not sure.)
Grain Store was lovely, but I’m going to confess, I was slightly intimidated by the menu. I’m sure that all the meals are great when you order them – as Hattie said, the chefs are very clever and accomplished – but I still have a latent fussiness which gets nervous about ordering things when I can’t really picture what they are. I’m working on it.
In this case though, I decided to order the one I knew couldn’t go wrong: pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. I was going to pretend it was because I wanted to know more about the Grain Store take on a classic, but really I’m just a food coward.
Still, I was right in the end, because the bacon was crispy and perfect, the pancakes were thick and cakey, there was a huge slab of butter and plenty of maple syrup. Perfect. So if you’re a fussy eater who’s worried about the menu: rest assured that bacon is always your friend.
At this point, I was also spurred on by the early success of Amy vs Fruit (I think it was around the time I rediscovered banana) so I also ordered a Heidi smoothie, which is made with bee pollen, honey, banana, buttermilk and oats. I really liked it – I was curious about the oats and the bee pollen, but to be honest you couldn’t taste them at all: it was mostly just banana. And that was fine by me.