A brief walk in Memphis

Memphis

Our first destination post Nashville was Memphis; the land of Elvis, B.B. King and soul food. We only had one night in town and were staying in the Cooper-Young neighbourhood, which it turns out is the area to be in for great restaurants and bars removed from the madness of the Beale Street crowds. After getting settled in our Airbnb (this time a spare room in the home of a wonderful Brazillian woman named Dalila, her sons and their pet Guinea pig and chameleon) we set off in search of dinner.

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Beauty Shop with original sinks that Priscilla Presley may or may not have been permed in (Credit: thebeautyshoprestaurant.com)

We found ourselves at Beauty Shop, formerly Priscilla Presley’s preferred spot for a dye job, now a fantastically kitsch restaurant serving food thats hard to pin down in genre but so so delicious. The whole place is so well designed; from the tables for two where you sit under hooded Belvedere hair dryers not unlike the ones your granny gets her permed under, while larger parties find themselves in booths made of glass bricks, to the original mint green hair washing sinks still in use behind the bar. I had pan roasted barramundi with sweet corn and pea succotash, almonds and a citrus garlic coconut milk broth. Neil had something with duck that looked delicious but I can’t for the life of me remember what was in it. George had a double order of kale salad, because… George. We also had great skinny fries with cayenne, sugar and spring onions. The highlight for me though had to be the avocado and white chocolate ice creams for dessert which went bizarrely well together and balanced out an otherwise worryingly healthy meal.

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Barramundi with corn, peas and citrus coconut broth. Fries with cayenne, sugar and spring onions.

The next day was spent exploring. Beale Street; essentially two miles of blues clubs, restaurants and touristy shops with some major neon sign competition between them. The vintage and antique stores back in Cooper-Young were packed so full of treasures I literally wanted to hire a shipping container and take everything with me. We also spent a truly unhealthy amount of time at the Bass Pro shop – an giant silver pyramid where you can buy anything and everything to make your Duck Dynasty/Bear Grylls (delete as culturally relevant) dreams come true. We were tempted by the adorable pink hand guns and camouflage speed boats, but alas the budget wouldn’t stretch.

“Put some South in your mouth” on Beale Street

It was a flying visit, so fleeting in fact that we didn’t even make it to Graceland, but Memphis will stick in my memory for its undeniable charm, style and soul. We would have loved to stay longer but had plenty of ground to cover before Neil flew out of New Orleans in 5 days so the road was calling..


Written by Laura.

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Bitches be Balanced: Nashville

Bitches be Balanced, Nashville

If you read our previous post on Nashville, you will know that it was a pretty over-indulgent 4 days.  Here were my favourite places to make myself feel a little better about life:

juice. Nashville | 1106 Division Street, Nashville 37203

The first cold-press juicery in Tennessee.  Huge selection of small batch cold-press juices.  TIP: get there early as they sell out quick!

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Franklin Juice Co. : Acai bowl

Franklin Juice Co. | 230 Franklin Rd. Franklin, TN 37064

Delicious cold-press juices, elixirs and probably the best acai bowl I’ve ever eaten (though that could be down to them serving them in the cutest terracotta pots).  Check out their twitter to see when their van is, too!

The Post East1701 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN  37206

Delicious cafe with a whole host of gluten and dairy free options.  Vegan friendly.  Fab selection of cold-press juices and takeout salads.  Read our review of their brunch here.

Barre3501 12th Ave South, Nashville, TN 37203

This was my first time with the Barre3 franchise (I’m a Pure Barre kinda gal), but WOW have I been converted.  Ballet-pilates hybrid, this is one intense full-body workout without the impact of HIIT.  Feel stronger and more flexible after – just what the doctor ordered after days of driving!

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The Post East: BRUNCH! Photo creds to McKel…


Written by George.

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Play cool as country water, Nashville cats

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Having worked for the gorgeous McKel of Nutrition Stripped (i.e. the best nutrition/lifestyle blog out there) earlier in May while cooking for her cookbook shoot, I was only too excited to check out the vibes in Nashville.  After stopping off en route to see the view in Chattanooga (go on, say it in a Southern accent – amazing huh!?), we rolled into downtown Nashville to kill a couple of hours before meeting McKel for dinner. We immediately headed to ‘juice. Nashville` for some raw, cold-pressed goodness.  I (obviously) opted for one of their low-fruit-high-greens green juices, with Laura going for the special of almond, peach, honey and cinnamon which is definitely the closest raw-vegan, gluten-free thing to peach pie.  We then headed over to Thai Esane to meet McKel, who has lived in Nashville for the past four years, where we caught up over piles of delicious tofu pad thai and raw papaya salad. We spent the night crashing at McKel’s house, which looks and smells so beautiful it literally is like a virtual Pintrest board (see here and here), before heading out early the next day to pick up fellow Anglo-New Yorker, Neil (who pretty much took all our photos from the moment he landed to the moment he left us in New Orleans as he is far more knowledgable and talented than I am). Laura and Neil headed straight to ‘Biscuit Love` in the trendy urban Gulch neighbourhood for Saturday brunch, where Laura feasted on cheesy grits, tomato gravy, fried eggs and buttered kale and Neil traditional biscuits and gravy. I, on the other hand, had the only dairy free item on the menu (black iced coffee) and headed off to Barre3 around the corner for a much needed (and free – thanks McKel) barre workout; NYC has definitely rubbed off on me!

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George’s last photo for a week! Cheesy grits, tomato gravy, fried eggs and buttered kale.

We all reconvened a couple of hours later in a classic downtown country bar, which we soon learned made up huge swathes of the centre of the city, incredibly proud of their musical heritage. The walls were adorned with posters of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and, obviously, Taylor Swift, and a country rock band played to a totally packed midday crowd of Tennessee-folk, in town for the weekend.  We soon realised that a day spent drinking beer in Nashville’s Broadway bars was THE way to spend your Bachelorette party (sorry, “Hen Do”), especially when it’s you and your 9 closest gal pals on a party bike (which definitely looks less fun in 36ºC heat with American drinking laws). After a beer (I unfortunately couldn’t catch up with Laura and Neil’s brunch mimosas induced head start due to my designated road-trip driver status), we dumped the car and our stuff at our next home for the next two nights (an apartment that a friend of my roommate’s casually has nestled in her basement and let us use with a minute’s notice), and headed out in search of (more) food. We headed over to the hipster neighbourhood of East Nashville (a far cry from honky-tonk Downtown) to The Pharmacy – McKel had recommended it to us for burgers with all the sides that has something for carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Laura and I both opted for the black bean burger; Laura’s obviously came with piles of cheese, as well as the usual burger veggies, whereas I requested jalepeño, avocado and lettuce.  Neil went for something meaty and stuffed with bacon and egg.  He assured us it was delicious.  For sides, we went all-American and split some slaw, regular & sweet potato fries and tater tots (little deep fried cylinders of grated potato, pronounced “tayder taats”).

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The Pharmacy: Burgers!

Beer, burgers and more beer later, we rolled ourselves next door to Holland House Bar & Refuge. We needed a little pick-me-up in the form of happy hour cocktails in a vain attempt to make our heat/beer/food exhausted bodies a little more upbeat in honour of Neil’s first day.  Holland House was so gorgeous, but sadly we left sooner than we hoped, defeated (Laura unable to finish her Fuego Siempre having been force fed my amazing-but-disgusting digestive bitters to aid her poor overworked tummy).  I went for drinks with McKel while the others (over-) napped, then we all ended up at the trendy East Nashville drinking hole Bar 308, where the evening was concluded with (more) cocktails.   A pretty damn good introduction to the BBT way for Neil if you ask me (as well as 3 incredibly sore bank accounts).

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The Post East: Vegetarian Scotch Egg, Kale Salad, Fresh Slaw and Gluten-Free Vegan Biscuit.

The following day we went and grabbed a much needed coffee at Barista Parlor, a vast space jam packed with beautiful 20-somethings dressed all in black and trilbies that made the three of us feel like we had momentarily been transported 900 miles back home to Brooklyn.  Incredibly strong cold-brew down, we drove a few blocks to The Post East to meet McKel for brunch.  Opened for just over a year, this is a cafe that totally resonates with my food ethos; organically sourced ingredients, whole food dishes, community focussed, and accepting of all diets.  Laura and I were sent into dish deciding overload with a menu boasting a whole host of gluten-free and dairy-free options and a fridge crammed with cold-pressed juices.  Over smoothies and juice we feasted on delicious vegetarian scotch eggs, crispy corn cakes with a sweet and crunchy red cabbage salad and salsa, and a gluten-free vegan biscuit with mushroom gravy.  Everything totally delicious and leaving me so happy to FINALLY get to try a true American biscuit.

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The Post East: GF vegan biscuits and gravy; crispy corn cakes with salsa and red cabbage salad.

After a tour and tasting at local Cosair Distillery (think pumpkin spice moonshine and vanilla infused vodka) and a cheeky ice cream/sorbet pit stop at Jeni’s, we head home for a quick turn-around before heading over to Pinewood Social for our last meal in Nashville (oh, why must it end?)  I had met McKel there the previous night and was dying to show the others.  It is honestly one of the most fabulous spaces I’ve hung out in and would die for one near where I end up living.  It is huge: boasting a beautiful bar (with even more beautiful bartenders) centre stage; tables for the restaurant nestled around the perimeter of the room; at the front end a long communal table seats hip young professionals with laptops or a book, huddled over a coffee from the espresso bar (also equipped with pastries).  The back of the space has a glass wall which reveals a 6-lane bowling alley restored from an old Bowl O-Rama, from Indiana (karaoke is also on offer).  And if that isn’t enough then there is an outdoor area where you can lie by the pool and nibble on delicious morsels from the kitchen whilst simultaneously sipping on a cocktail. With a dry rosé for us girls and an old fashioned for Neil slipping down nicely, we set about making our way through the platter of salty oysters (with the most fabulous cucumber/dill mignonette), burrata with peaches (fresh herbs, hot sauce, almonds), fried broccolini with almond-garlic dipping sauce, spring salad with pickled jalepeños, radish, grilled carrots and goats cheese, fried catfish with shrimp fritters and tartare sauce and (breathe) meatloaf with jalepeño mac, wilted kale and tomato sorghum glaze (which I sadly had to give a miss).  All in all, a fucking fabulous last meal.  Holy cow I’m full.


Written by George.

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Oh, Atlanta I hear you calling

Atlanta

By the time we arrived in Atlanta, I had fully crafted a life plan that started with cancelling my flight back to England, moving to Savannah, starting a quaint neighbourhood bistro and never looking back. Suffice to say I hadn’t really thought about what Atlanta would be like at all. Turns out, Atlanta is kind of lovely too.

We were staying with our friend Mary, her lovely parents, and their two miniature schnauzers; Peggy Sue and Bob Dylan. Our first night was a blur of real home comfort. Homemade gluten free sourdough bruschetta inspired by Mary’s recent trip to Italy, deceptively strong thyme infused cocktails and home smoked salmon. It really was a promising start. 

Our first day in Atlanta began with a walk up Stone Mountain. Of course when I say this, I mean George walked while I stumbled and sweated behind her. The view from the top threw me at first in its sheer greenness (is that a word? I’m going with it). If Mary hadn’t insisted that yes, Atlanta was right below us, I wouldn’t have guessed it. Other than the few downtown high-rises in the distance the whole city seemed to be made up of leafy cul-de-sacs and cute suburbs. Having made it off the mountain considerably faster than we climbed it, we decided to reward ourselves with brunch. Side note: Literally any activity completed pre 10am deserves to be rewarded with brunch.

With Mary as our leader, we headed over to DeKalb Avenue and to Radial Cafe. Radial was, in their own words, ‘farm-to-table before farm-to-table was cool’ and their experience shows. They have a huge selection catering to vegans/carnivores and coeliacs/gluten lovers alike. Suitably full of cheese grits, gluten free pancakes and supercharged veggie burgers we passed the afternoon exploring the vintage shops of Peachtree Street and watching more Shark Week than was strictly necessary.

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Sweet potato hash, sunny side egg and ‘more cheese than grits’ grits

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the sharks to check out happy hour at Kimball House and christ am I glad we did. Although it only opened in 2013, Kimball House feels like it has been there forever; helped in no small part by its home in a beautifully restored old railway station. The guys who work there have a positively encyclopaedic knowledge of everything booze which was invaluable to a terminally indecisive yet particular person like myself. I finally settled on a Sunset Boulevard – basically the best boulevardier I have ever had with the addition of rhubarb vermouth, raspberry brandy and citrus bitters. One of the major draws of Kimball House is its raw bar, so I was planning on sitting back and working my way through the cocktail menu while George and Mary ate oysters. After a quick glance over the dinner menu I decided to try their leek hushpuppies while the others sucked on molluscs. Just in the name of research of course. Oh the hushpuppies. Essentially buttery leeky deep fried cornbread, draped with lardo, strips of tart ramps and whipped maple butter. I just had to stop typing for a moment and be sad that I’m not eating it right now. Spurred on by the hushpuppies and (apparently) wonderful oysters, we abandoned plans of leaving, made ourselves comfortable, ordered another round of cocktails and more food.

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Those leek hushpuppies, the Sunset Boulevard and a healthy assortment of oysters

Being in Georgia, of course we had to order the peach salad. Perfectly ripe peaches, arugula (sorry, rocket) pesto, mushroom conserve, pecan oil and lime combined to elevate this simple looking plate of food to extreme levels of deliciousness. The star however was undoubtedly the smoked bass. Nestled on a bed of heirloom tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, charred greens, bamboo, chanterelles and swimming in a pool of smokey corn fumet. It is a testament to the manners of the waiters that they didn’t judge me for licking the plate, because lick the plate I did.

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Smoked striped bass, heirloom tomato, sweet corn, charred greens, bamboo, chanterelles, corn fumet. May I have some more?

Next on the list was Leon’s Full Service. Things start to get a little blurry round the edges at this point but I know we drank delicious Gruner Veltliner and ate devilled eggs (what, thats not what you order when  you’re drunk?) and an actual bucket of fries with smoked tomato aoli. Leon’s is actually owned by the same people at Kimball House and it showed in their immaculate service and attention to detail in the food. Two bottles of wine later it was only a short stagger found the corner to the Brick Store Pub, completing our hatrick of joints owned by the same guys. Upstairs in the Belgian bar Mary and I drank cider while George had a little snooze. It had been a long day after all.

Not wanting to sober up and realise how hungover we were, the next day we went to check out the Old Fourth distillery. The first distillery in Atlanta since before prohibition, the guys at Old Fourth are clearly very passionate about that they do. They run free tours on Thursday afternoons which we gladly jumped on, where you can sample their small batch vodka, whiskey and even their first trial batches of gin. The vodka especially was utterly delicious – so much so that I currently have a bottle of it in the glove compartment of the car to swig when George isn’t entertaining me enough. We actually learned that Kimball House uses their spirits so we knew we were in good hands. The building itself is beautifully designed and clearly a real labour of love, from the copper stills to the salvaged school furniture in the tasting room to the huge collection of pre prohibition stoneware whiskey jugs from previous Atlanta distilleries. Talking to Justin, one of the owners, after the tour it was obvious that they have big plans for the business and really see it as part of the evolving community. I just wish it was round the corner from my house; though my liver is probably glad it isn’t.

It was with real sadness that we left Mary and Atlanta the next morning. Georgia had been an unexpected delight, but Nashville was calling.


Written by Laura.

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Bitches be Balanced: Miami

Bitches be Balanced, Miami

Welcome to the first BITCHES BE BALANCED post, where George will give the down low on all things juice, health and workout that happen alongside our more indulgent endeavours and hours sat behind the wheel.

Although the first thing I did after landing in Miami was go off in search of green juice, here it was all about Acai bowls. One of the hottest breakfasts that have been circulating in the health food world over the past 3 years, acai bowls are blended frozen acai berries (native to Brazil), usually with another frozen fruit such as banana or other berries, superfood powders, a splash of nutmilk, and topped with as much as you can you can pile in your bowl (granola, fruit, seeds, etc). Its basically a smoothie/ice cream hybrid that tastes amazing and is totally Instagrammable.  It’s also conveniently loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and healthy fats.

Here were our top 4:

 IMG_1418JugoFresh several locations, we visited 222 N
W 26th St, Miami, FL 33127

Amazing acai bowls, alongside the best juice in Miami, salads and delicious cold brew coffee with coconut water and reishi.

10 Fruits | 143 NE 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33132

Juices, smoothies, acai bowls, sandwiches and salads.  We recommend the almond and green acai bowls.

Under the Mango Tree 714 6th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Adorable bohemian vegetarian cafe. Great to grab a smoothie to take to the beach!

Jucy Lu2621 NW 2nd Ave Miami FL 33127

Cold-press juices and organic food in the achingly cool area Wynwood. Everything locally sourced. The turmeric shots are a winner.


Written by George.

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Oh Savannah, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Savannah

The next major stop after Miami was to be Atlanta. Our wonderful friend Mary, who we met at culinary school, lived there and had generously offered to put us up for a few days. It being almost 10 hours of driving between the two cities, the initial plan had been to drive up via Orlando and treat ourselves to a day at Harry Potter world. Three too many extravagant Miami dinners later and $150 each for a ticket, even for the magic of real life Hogsmeade, just wasn’t going to work. Instead, we set about randomly scanning the map for an alternative pit stop. Enter stage left, Savannah.

Airbnb booked, car collected*, snacks sequestered, off we set on the seven hour drive up the Florida coast. I really knew nothing about Savannah, but as we rolled into town that evening the pastel clap board houses and twinkling road side diners were utterly enchanting in the fading light. We were staying on the edge of the historic district in the gorgeous home of Rabo, or Airbnb host. We were starving from a day of enthusiastic car karaoke so Rabo recommended we wander down the street to the Green Truck Pub. It is one of Savannah’s emerging number of restaurants serving seriously tasty, locally sourced, sustainably minded food. We were planning on having a night of drying out after Miami but our willpower crumbled as soon as we saw the beer list. Demonstrating our usual talent for over ordering, we were soon presented with perfect hand cut fries, a shimmering bowl of chilli non carne, coleslaw and a gorgonzola apple salad studded with candied pecans so good I could have wept. Even the ketchup was homemade. I don’t know if it was the first taste of Southern charm, the perfect understated attention to detail in the food, or the 9% abv beer, but the whole meal felt infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Intentions of sobriety already shot, next we headed over to the American Legion bar; apparently the cheapest place to drink in Savannah and home to a bouncer who was utterly baffled to be presented with a UK passport as ID. After having every credit card in my wallet inspected, we passed a happy hour (or was it three?) surrounded by an eclectic mix of SCAD students and very drunk veterans. Sinking into bed later that night, I couldn’t help but feel like I was home.

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The next day, breakfast was at The Sentient Bean; a great neighbourhood vegetarian cafe with even more of the welcoming energy we were getting so used to. Mystery chef’s choice tacos, vegan grain bowl and iced yerba maté dealt with, we headed through Forsyth Park and spent the rest of the day strolling around town oohing and ahhing like kids at a firework display at quite how beautiful Savannah is. I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes the place so special; the whole city seems to be conspiring together to charm you into never wanting to leave.

The oldest city in Georgia, Savannah was originally the British colonial capital which might go some way to explaining the deep sense of familiarity and homecoming I felt by being there. It’s also ridiculously cheap to live in. When I found out you could rent the entire the five bedroom, four bathroom, stained glass window containing house we were staying in for the same money as my room in Brooklyn I may have sworn quite loudly. This means that all sorts of creative types who are being priced out of Portland, Austin and even New York are seeing Savannah as an increasingly attractive place to run to, and in turn they are turning it into a growing hub for the creative arts in the South.

As we pulled out of town, Atlanta bound, it was with a surprisingly strong sense of sadness. So long Savannah. I won’t leave it another 23 years until I return, I promise.

* Side note on the car – We had reserved a VW Beetle for the journey (you know, those cars famed for their endurance through long stretches of Texan desert) but due for a fortuitous fuck up at the rental company they had no cars for us and were forced to give us a convertible Mustang instead. Sometimes life just hands you a glass of iced lemonade straight off the bat.


Written by Laura.

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South Beach, Bringin’ the Heat

Miami

Seeing as we were surrounded by some of the best seafood in Miami for Independence Day it only seemed appropriate to celebrate the saddest day in the American calendar with some amazing morsels plucked straight from the sea. After a day lounging on Miami Beach, Freddie directed us to CVI.CHE105, a modern Peruvian restaurant downtown, with undoubtedly the most impressive pisco cockail menu I’ve ever seen. Ceviche – fish and other seafood ‘cooked’ in the juice of citrus fruit – has always been a favourite dish of mine after having spent six weeks eating it almost daily in Peru a few years ago.

After a round of pisco sours we were presented with ‘Causa Maki’, a Peruvian version of sushi, where crab and avocado were perfectly rolled in mashed yellow potato. Having attempted to make sushi on numerous occasions, how such precision had been achieved was quite mind-boggling. This was followed by excellently prepared grilled octopus; not too chewy and with the perfect amount of smokiness from the grill. Then came pan-roasted fresh corvina and with crabmeat, smothered in smoky red rocoto and pepper sauce, accompanied with potato cake au gratin; I could not eat this due to my intolorence to dairy (weep) but I was assured of its deliciousness by the noises being made next to me. Finally we tucked into a heaping bowl of mixed cevice boasting perfectly ‘cooked’ fish, shrimp and squid, all bathing in delicious Tiger’s milk (the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche), accompanied by the traditional corn and wedge of sweet potato. Although I couldn’t finish my meal with a dulce de leche topped lucuma mousse like the other two (grrr), it had been the perfect meal.

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The next day we decided to venture north to Wynwood, the arts district of Miami that, if I didn’t know any better, could have easily passed for Bushwick. Incredibly colourful with street art slathered across old industrial buildings, this definitely felt like THE hipster hangout spot in the city. Wherever there are hipsters there is great food, so we searched around a few blocks until we decided on Annex for our Sunday brunch antics. The space is huge and filled with an eclectic selection of tables, chairs, sofas, Jenga and enormous fans (which were very much needed in the 36°C heat). Everything is cooked in a small retro trailer out front; having worked in a New York kitchen during snowy March I have no idea how these guys cope with this kind of heat. The atmosphere was set off by a live reggae DJ and waiting staff that manage to provide impeccable service whilst remaining painfully cool.

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The afternoon was kicked off with a delicious pitcher of sparkling sangria whilst we faced yet another crisis over what to order. Laura and I settled on sharing puy lentils with garlic sautéed greens and sunny side eggs and the tortilla bowl salad with baby kale, black beans, rice, coriander and guacamole. The lentil plate was the perfect simple brunch meal, with the lentils perfectly cooked and the entire dish flawlessly seasoned. However the salad was definitely the show-stopper, presented in its fried tortilla bowl. Freddie went for the bacon, caramelized onion and triple cream “toastie” which, even as a dairy-free vegetarian, looked pretty phenomenal. A second pitcher of sangria and two nose piercings later, it had been almost on par with a New York Sunday.

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Written by George.

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