Brunch at Norbert – London

Last weekend my mother was in town, and as you always do when a relative comes to visit London, you go for brunch. Most 20 or 30 something Londoners’ weekend life revolves around Friday evening drinks at the pub, Saturday morning brunches, Sunday roasts and ‘today I will eat healthy’ Mondays. Basically, brunch is an institution in the Big Smoke and a lot of places do it really well so competition is high.

We decided to go back to Noak in Brockley which we very much enjoyed! Upon arrival, we discovered that 1) the restaurant had been repainted and 2) the name had been changed to Norbert. Wait, what?

Norbert Brockley London

Noak was no more and had been replaced by its British brother Norbert. We headed in anyway as we were hungry and a bit curious. The interior remains very similar to what Noak’s used to look like. The waiters were with us straight away and efficient to take our orders and serve food, which in full honesty is where Noak wasn’t great. The previous team was on the slower and more disorganised side, so there have definitely been improvements there!

The Nordic-inspired breakfast platters seemed to have left with Noak but Norbert brunch menu looked promising, British classics made with local products.

We ordered coffees which were good! (not always the case in London)

Norbert coffee

My mum went for the vegetarian full-English served with halloumi and avocados. It was tasty and filling, just what a full-English breakfast is supposed to do!

Norbert vegetarian full-english

Both Andrew and I went for the poached eggs served on sourdough bread with wild mushrooms and Bayonne ham. It was really good! I was genuinely impressed, the products were flavoursome and fresh.

Norbert wild mushrooms eggs

What struck me too is how good the plates looked. You can tell that the people in the kitchen have some sort of gastro/fine-dining experience. So I googled them and discovered that the head chef has worked at Michelin starred The Galvin Brothers at La Chapelle. Not bad at all!

So for those of you who knew Noak and have yet to try Norbert, I can confirm that it is a bit of an upgrade! Noak had that lovely little local coffee eatery atmosphere, Norbert offers a more elevated restaurant-like experience but still at a decent (London) price.

Norbert restaurant indoor London

My only regret? The cinnamon rolls are gone! People of Norbert, if you read this post, please, please, please consider bringing the cinnamon rolls back!

A great unplanned (re)discovery and a new potential favourite local brunch spot!

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Dinner at Sparrow – London

Following our brunch at Sparrow, today I am finally sharing my dinner experience at Sparrow!

A little background story for this post; Andrew and I have had dinner at Sparrow before, very shortly after they opened. However, we had the ‘excellent’ idea of going the day after we came back from Japan, thinking it would be a great way to fight the jet-lag. We did stay awake the entire time, but it felt like a very vague dream the morning after, so our first impression was a little too blurry for me to share it on the blog. I knew I had eaten well but that was pretty much it.

So using the excuse of Mummy Imaginarium’s visit to town, we booked a table at Sparrow for an overdue evening visit.

The day was grim, rainy and cold, and we were very tempted to skip the reservation for a soup and movie night in. Thank god we didn’t!

Sparrow Lewisham London

We were greeted on arrival by the most lovely manager! I wish I would have asked for his name (as well as our waiters’) because they were all just so nice! The walk in the rain was worth it just for the warm welcome alone.

Sparrow Lewisham kitchen

We opted out of the aperitifs and went straight for a ‘warming’ bottle of Portuguese red wine (which was excellent). All their drinks sounded great and I would have definitely tried one of their homemade bellinis on a warmer day!

Douro Portuguese wine in Sparrow

Following the waitress’s recommendation, we ordered two dishes per person and shared everything.

Sparrow Spring 2018 menu

Spoiler alert – because I just cannot wait to tell you anymore – it was DE-LI-CIOUS! Seriously one of the best meals we had in a while! Sorry, I just couldn’t contain myself until the end of the post to share it with you! Now that have that out of my system let’s review all the details so you can order the same when you are going (because you absolutely have to, and will go to Sparrow). Just note that the menu may change with the seasons.

We started with the focaccia which was light, yet filling, with strong flavours of olive oil, yet not too oily. Delightful!

Focaccia in Sparrow

We ordered one of the specials of the day, a fried chicken tight with peanut satay sauce. Again, really good and not too greasy for a fried dish, and the sauce was delicious.

Fried chicken in Sparrow

Bear with me for the next dish, I just need a minute of contemplation… These roasted Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnut pesto and bitter leaves were by far my favourite dish of the evening. They were so good that looking at the picture makes me emotional. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!

Jerusalem artichoke in Sparrow

We followed the most epic plate of vegetables I ever had with the scallops and crab tortelli with mussels. They were good but it was hard for them to follow after the artichokes.

Crab and scallops tortelli in Sparrow

For some reason we mainly ordered vegetarian dishes that night, it wasn’t done on purpose but we were very happy we did as the meatless plates are clearly Sparrow’s forte. The grilled asparagus with lemon and parmesan are a perfect example of it, crunchy and full of Spring flavours!

Grilled asparagus in Sparrow

We ended the savoury courses with the most beautiful Puy lentils I had served with carrots and beetroots.

Puy lentils in Sparrow

We had no appetite anymore but if the desserts were as good as the mains we had to have some! So both my mum and I went for the rhubarb trifle which was rich and delicious and Andrew chose the strawberry pannacotta.

Sparrow rhubarb trifleSparrow strawberry pannacotta

We left Sparrow with the most gratifying feeling, one of having had one of the best meals of the year (so far!).

So make a booking, show up (even if it’s – 20 and snowing) and let the lovely staff take care of you! Wait, did I mention it was one of my favourite meals in a while?

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Model Market – London

Guess who’s back, back again
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back?

I am telling what is back: Model Market! One of the best places in Lewisham!

Model Market Lewisham-

Model Market is one of the few Street Feast food markets in London. Open every Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 1am this is the ultimate south east London destination for a tasty rum punch and some delicious food.

Model Market Lewisham

Once an indoor and outdoor market, the venue had become an abandoned dilapidated space before it was taken over by Street Feast which created a fun venue answering the increasing demand for good food venues in the south-east borough.

Model Market Lewisham

Model Market is like a small version of Mercato Metropolitano with food stalls and sheltered sitting areas so you can enjoy a night out in Lewisham even on a rainy day.

Model Market Lewisham

Once in, head to the main bar to grab a refreshing beer or one of their many cocktails. If you are more of a gin and tonic or rum person there are two other bars purely dedicated to the clear and amber alcohols.

Model Market Lewisham

Since our trip to Barbados, Andrew and I cannot resist a good rum punch which is of course what we opted for last time we went (dragging with us my sister and her fiance who both were seduced after just one sip).

Model Market rum punch

I have also done a little selection of food stalls I highly recommend!

Start the feast by sharing some steamed bao buns from Yum Bun. We had the fried chicken ones which were very tasty and I am planning to try the tofu ones next time (I will update this post to share my thoughts).

Model Market chicken Yum Bun

We then shared the most delicious fried chicken strips from Mother Clucker. So delicious that we finished them before I took a picture so you will have to take my word for it.

Still feeling a bit peckish both Andrew and I opted for burgers from Pocho. They were tasty and satisfying, and the best part is that they are all the same price no matter which feelings you picked!

Model Market Pocho burger

My sister and her fiance were craving some Indian flavours (when in London…) and opted for naan wraps from Frankie Goes to Bollywood. They both reported that it was delicious and they are both French so I trust their opinion!

Model-Market-Lewisham-Yum-Bun

We grabbed some more G&Ts and rum punches and chatted a bit longer, ending a very happy day in London town!

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The Brockley Deli – London

I have recently taken the leap to leave my job and to give the freelancer life a go. That means that every day I am at home. I am quite a homebody anyway and like my own company, so most days I am happy! Sometimes though, I need to get outside and change the scenery to stimulate my creativity. I have therefore made it my mission to try all my local coffee shops while working – you can call it multitasking!

I mentioned the Good Hope Cafes before, and this week we are heading to the west part of Lewisham in Brockley where you will find the eponymous Brockley Deli.

The Brockley Deli

Part delicatessen, part coffee shop, Brockley Deli is a bright spacious place where your creative juices will be flowing while your stomach enjoys a nice pastry and a coffee.

The Brockley Deli toasted croissant

It is also good to note that the WiFi is very reliable, which, if you are in the same situation than me, is a detail but an important one!

The shop section offers fine foods and wines, and you can order tasty freshly-made sandwiches and nibbles at the counter. The Brockley Deli also works with local suppliers as much as possible and all their beers are from local breweries.

The Brockley Deli counter

My order of choice there is an almond milk latte with a delicious blueberry muffin.

The Brockley Deli coffee and blueberry muffin

With a novel author on the left and two digital nomads on the right, you won’t feel lonely! The Brockley Deli is a great place to settle for half a day as a freelancer. They are open from 8am to 7pm most days, so you can even make it a full working day if you fancy! You can even reward hours of hard work with one of their cocktails, because why not?

The Brockley Deli

They say you should work hard and play hard, well I do it the foodie way!

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Antonio Delicatessen – London

You have been to Italy before and love getting lost in the lively food shops and farmer markets there? You love Italian food but you find the supermarkets’ mozzarella disappointing? Me too! Unfortunately, we cannot just jump on a plane to Rome when we are craving the flavours of Italy. Not very budget-friendly neither environment-friendly.
The great news is that if you are in London I know a place where, for a short period of time, you will feel like in a shop in Florence. Lewisham city centre is definitely not the most pleasant place in London. It can be grim and a little rough around the edges so you would not think that a little piece of Italy is hiding there. Yet it is home to one of the best Italian delis!
Antonio Delicatessen Lewisham London
Antonio Delicatessen is in a street just off Lewisham shopping-centre and a short walk away from the station. A real hidden gem where you will be greeted by ‘Buongiorno!‘. There all the staff is Italian!
The shop is small but packed to the ceiling with Italian products. You will find all the types of pasta, sauces, biscuits and even drinks commonly found in Italian supermarkets!
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Head to the counter and order some delicious Italian pecorino and charcuterie.
Antonio Delicatessen charcuterie
It is good to note that by default the staff will talk to you in Italian, and when visiting you will quickly understand why. Most of the customers in the shop are Italian too! Now if this is not a sign of quality and authenticity I don’t know what is!
Antonio Delicatessen cheese and deli
Antonio Delicatessen products are very reasonably priced. This shop is not trying to be a fancy European deli. Its objective is to cater for London’s Italian community and make sure that their weekly shop is as good as it is at home.
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Luckily for me, I live a short walk away from Antonio Delicatessen. And if you don’t, yet still want to treat yourself to a tasty homemade Italian dinner, consider hopping on the train there. It will be a mini weekend adventure into the depth of South-East London and you will head back home with excellent burrata!
Ci vediamo lì, arrivederci !
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Good Hope Cafés – London

Can you imagine being able to eat breakfast and drink a warm cup of coffee for a good cause? Sounds a little too good and easy to be true? Well, not in Lewisham!

If you head to south-east London and are in need of a bite to eat or a warm beverage, make sure to swing by a Good Hope Cafés!

There are three cafés: one in Hither Green, one in Ladywell Fields and one on Lewisham High Street. My favourite is the Hither Green one simply because it is a bit cosier than the others. The three places support the same cause though!

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

The cafés were created following the passing of Jimmy Mizen, a young schoolboy who was attacked in 2008. Rather than revenge, his parents decided to focus on compassion and to invest in the local community to make it safer for young people. In 2009, they founded the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, now known as For Jimmy. The charity is working to involve the young local people so they feel part of any decisions affecting their lives. They are encouraged to change positively the communities they live in.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

“I want you to take hope and encouragement from all that we do. Please don’t feel sorry for us, but take strength and determination to work for change. It starts with each one of us. Let’s work together to bring peace in memory of our fine young people who have lost their lives to violent crime.”

Margaret Mizen, MBE

A great cause and an important one, London has been struggling a lot with youth violence over the past decade. The type of attacks Jimmy was a victim of unfortunately often make the headlines in London and big cities in general.

Now, what about the food? Nothing too fancy here. The menu is simple but everything is tasty! For breakfast, you will find the regular eggs on toasts, breakfast muffins and pastries. For lunch, you can order nice toasty sandwiches which will keep you full until dinner.

Good Hope Cafe breakfast muffin

And if you are visiting between meal times you will find some tasty cakes! What’s not to like?

The best part is that all the cafés employ local young people, giving them valuable work experience to help them as they grow into adulthood. All the money collected is reinvested in the cafés and help support the various charity’s programmes.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

Andrew and I live very close by and often go there for a tasty (and reasonably priced!) brunch. In addition to all the good For Jimmy is doing, we particularly enjoy going there as we believe it is important to support local businesses. Eat local, shop local, create local jobs and be part of the local virtuous circle!

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Canary Wharf from Hilly Fields

Hilly Fields is my favourite park next to my house, mainly because of the great views.

London – 2018

SONY DSC

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Brunch at Sparrow – London

I have been a Londoner for seven years now. Five of them were spent in my beloved Shepherd’s Bush and the last two have been spent in Lewisham.

If you are from out of town, you probably have never heard of Lewisham, or if you have it would probably be because of the fire station scene in Bridget Jones. If you are living in London you may probably think “Lewisham, oh dear, is that even safe?”. Lewisham has not the best reputation, I will give you that. It is still very much at the early stages of ‘up and coming’ but you cannot beat the prices when you are looking for a house to buy in London.

Slowly but surely though, there have been some nice little places opening making Lewisham city centre less gritty, one of them is Sparrow.

Sparrow Lewisham

We had been to Sparrow before, but it was for dinner straight off the plane from Japan, and with the jet-lag we weren’t really able to fully appreciate the meal. So this review is only about their brunch and I guess I will have to visit again to let you know about the dinner (life is hard).

We headed mid-morning to Lewisham roundabout where Sparrow is. The area is being fully redeveloped and you will find Sparrow squeezed between a shopping centre and a development site. It doesn’t sound great, but never judge a book by its cover!

Inside, the place is how you would expect any trendy restaurant in Shoreditch to look like. Subway tiles, open kitchen, young friendly staff, overall a very pleasant atmosphere.

Sparrow Lewisham

The menu is very interesting too, between the traditional full-English breakfast and the eggs Benedict, you will find some more surprising dishes inspired by Sri Lanka cuisine, such as poori masala and appam.

Sparrow brunch menu

We placed our order – one full-English for him, one appam for me.

The full-English was beautiful, with vibrant colours and great flavours! One very satisfying breakfast.

Sparrow full-English breakfast

I didn’t know what to expect with the appam, having never had one. It was delicious! Appam is similar to a pancake and made with fermented rice and coconut milk. Light, crispy and fluffy, with delicious flavours of coconut milk, a very nice discovery if you are not too hungry.

Sparrow appam

With that we ordered the fresh juice and smoothy of the day, which were exactly what we needed after a little too many drinks the night before.

Sparrow juice and smoothie of the day

Slowly but surely, Lewisham is finally becoming a destination Londoners go to for a good meal! We will need many more nice eateries to compete with trendy East London of course, but with places like Sparrow, I think we will be just fine!

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