Stoke Newington’s The Good Egg has just hatched a new café in Carnaby’s Kingly Court and it definitely looks like one that’s on the sunny side up…
As with the original, the menu is a hosanna to Jewish cuisine – paying particular heed to traditions which have evolved within Jewish communities worldwide – with firm roots in co-founder, Oded Mizrachi’s generations-old family recipes.
Think Tel Aviv’s vivacious street food scene meets Montreal’s Jewish café culture.
Interiors-wise, this manifests in a no-frills but cheery space, decked in shades of pink and a sea green-blue. There’s a stand-alone bar (concocting cardamom-spiced espresso martinis), an on-site bakery and ample space to sit whilst you wait for your table, or for your babka to-go.
Our visit is past the soft launch period, but it’s still very early days and there are quite a few dishes from the menu which are not yet available or are quick to run out. Frustratingly, we’re informed that the kitchen is out of cornbread French toast long after we’ve placed the order!
Service definitely needs a bit of fine-tuning or at the very least, servers who are a good deal more familiar with the menu. I won’t go into specifics as I’m here with my most easygoing girlfriends – including the lovely Colleen (a.k.a. Blond Across The Pond); and our brows are as quick to lower as they are to furrow, once our dishes finally come out from the open-plan kitchen.
You see, service can (hopefully) be sorted out with time. But to skilfully deliver unpretentious soul-food, which diners can quite easily lose themselves in? Now that’s the real art, often found lacking in even well-established restaurants with the most impeccable service.
If I didn’t mention it already, we’re here for brunch and the shakshuka is one of the most intriguing we’ve had in London yet.
The tongue-tingling hotbed of baked eggs is bathed in a maddeningly-rich tomato gravy, with dollops of preserved lemon yogurt and glorious little bites of crispy halloumi adding to the riot of textures. It’s a tad sour yet just the right level of creamy; and features salt, spice and a hint of sweetness on the surface too, with crusty bread to sop it all up!
The Sabih is another triumph, proving utterly unputdownable once we’ve had the first invitingly-messy bite. Loaded with Iraqi-style slivers of marinated aubergine and boiled eggs, the fluffy pitta pockets are emboldened by an unrestrained addition of herbs, spices and seasonings – from mango amba and zhoug to tahini.
These clever ingredients make for a chattily-chaotic Jerusalem-style breakfast plate too, which offers a very tiny taste of all the little plates from the breakfast section on the menu. (It’s really just enough for one person, rather than for sharing).
There’s a small selection of dips, including a feisty labneh I could eat for days (it’s elevated by a zesty touch of preserved lemon and chilli); and feta whipped with dill, parsley and mint (the last one adds a particularly potent accent).
There are a few more bites of the honeyed-halloumi we loved in our shakshuka; closer inspection reveals that the deliciously-sticky chunks are coated with thyme-honey and sprinkled with a pinch of za’atar. The aubergine featured in the Sabih also makes an appearance; but while are three of us, there’s just the one tender sliver sitting lonelily on a disproportionately-larger bed of tahini. So we do the only sensible thing we can think of, and order another plate of this high-level pleasure.
Of course, it wouldn’t be breakfast at The Good Egg without well, a good egg – and the crisply-fried eggs (tinged with aleppo pepper and tarragon) hit the spot rather nicely.
It’s only my first brush with babka which proves a disappointment, especially having lusted after this brioche-esque creation ever since it first popped up on my #FeedFeed. Also known as a sweet yeast cake, the Eastern European specialty is a cross between bread and cake which typically involves heaps of butter, sugar syrup and chocolate…
At The Good Egg, flavours change regularly and on this visit we plump for a salted caramel and pistachio slice. The salted caramel is woven into the hefty slice a bit too gently, with no pronounced traces to placate our sweet teeth. The babka is also rather dry in parts and lacks that lingering butteriness we’re longing for.
Dipping it in creamy coffee (made with Bonsoy soy milk) helps soften the deal, but overall it’s not exactly the OMG-inducing moment we were expecting…
I’m conscious whilst writing this, that a few of my trustworthy foodie-friends haven’t had the most compelling experience here. Consistency is definitely an issue in these early days.
However, with boisterous dishes that stack up to much more than the sum of their individually-delicious parts, there’s definitely a case for another meal here on a later date, when pesky teething problems have hopefully been sorted out.
The Good Egg, Unit G9, Kingly Court, Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
More new & noteworthy openings in London, here.