Once upon a time (and what seems like an age ago), I used to be a creature of comfort.
You’d find me at my local Italian almost every Saturday night (invariably placing the same order), whilst come Sunday I’d be at Automat – the retro American diner on Dover Street, dishing up NYC-style brunches on the weekends.
Automat has long since closed (the site was bought over by Alan Yau) and as for me, well this blog happened, sparking an insatiable appetite for culinary explorations… To the extent that I can now be found going to great lengths for that perfect brunch. Literally.
So to cut this long story short, last weekend I trekked out to unfamiliar territory (a leafy neighbourhood in Islington) only to wait for another hour (or so) for my brunch at Sunday.
Was it worth it?
In a word, yes.
With no official website backing it up and only (electronic) word-of-mouth to go on, it was tempting at first, to think I’d stumbled on a hidden gem. But in hindsight that might have been a tad presumptuous of me, as the line stretching out the door told a different story of Sunday’s popularity (noticeably among young, trendy and very in-the-know Londoners).
Luckily the wait wasn’t all that arduous though, as I had my old friends, Dais and Flo, and a steaming cuppa coffee for company!
Famished by the time we plonked ourselves inside (amidst the mish-mash of schoolroom-esque chairs, benches and wooden tables), we lost more time deliberating over the teasingly long menu, which scrupulously elaborated on the dreamiest of brunch dishes…
After extensive back-and-forth (I’m a Libran in case you hadn’t already guessed), I went for the courgette fritters.
A perfect meet of salty, herby, creamy and crunchy flavours and textures, it involved a perky assembly of golden-battered courgettes, halloumi, avocado, a poached eggs, yogurt and dukkah – the Arabic blend of spices which has an inexplicable knack for making everything tastier!
Whilst Dais made good work of a mountain of mushrooms heaped on sourdough toast with spinach, fresh rocket leaves, parmesan and that brunch classic, poached eggs…
Of course, what we’d really come for were the buttermilk pancakes (the reputation of which preceded it)… and we were not disappointed.
These were more dense than fluffy (which is how I usually like ’em), but had just the right touch of softness in the middle, especially once the luscious pool of maple syrup and honeycomb butter had soaked through.
Our only quibble was that the cream and deliciously tart layer of berry compote was in short supply relative to the hefty portion of pancakes…
These are usually strafed with crispy bacon as well, to help cut through all that sweetness, but Flo had these on the side so that we could share the dish between us – and even then we struggled to get through the all-consuming stack!
With its laid back vibes and breezy take on brunch, it was indeed a Sunday well spent at the eponymous eatery.
I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t live too close by, as I might just have returned to being a creature of comfort here on the weekends.
Sunday, 169 Hemingford Road, Barnsbury, London N1 1DA