By now, you must’ve heard about the super-gentrification of King’s Cross. I still remember power-walking 10-15 minutes up a very quiet York Way to reach my forever-unfurnished student apartment back in 2009 every night, with every inch of my skin oozing with paranoia. The area was dark and pretty deserted back then – I suppose that’s why I could still afford it.
But so much has changed in the last 10 years. Now there’s so much more to do in King’s Cross. In fact, I could hardly recognise the streets when I ventured up York Way for a fitness class at Frame recently. With that, also comes a portfolio of great restaurants: varying from cheap to expensive, great value to extremely refined.
Things to do in King’s Cross
Plus, here are a handful of other activities to keep you busy around King’s Cross:
Walk on Regent’s Canal (it’s a short walk to Camden Town or Regent’s Park)
Visit the Canopy Market (it’s pretty small, but cute)
Shop trending boutique stores at Coal Drop’s Yard
Have a quick bite from KERB Marketsat Granary Square (Wed-Fri at 12-2pm only)
Check out Rebel Studios if you’re a hardcore yogi (one of my favourite boutique studios in London)
Best Restaurants in King’s Cross
I love exploring London in its entirety. But with the abundance of impressive restaurant choices in Kings Cross itself (where I live), it’s hard to overcome the temptation to just stay put in the area.
Here are the restaurants near King’s Cross you need to try. There’s a range of nice and more casual choices. Scroll to the bottom to see them on a map.
Coal Office is one of the newer additions to King’s Cross and it’s definitely one not-to-miss. Their dishes are creative and refined; primarily inspired by the Israeli-Mediterranean cuisine. You can expect a pretty sophisticated brunch meal and I imagine it would be an excellent place for dinner too. It’s also perfect for a small celebration dinner with friends or your partner.
Spend per person: GBP30 per person (for brunch, without alcohol)
2. Granger & Co – Australian Brunch (Brunch/Coffee)
With all the new areas developed in King’s Cross, Granger & Co still manages to remain top of mind for me. This brunch spot is one of the older-new restaurants in the area, but still manages to constantly attract a queue (30-45 min wait) on the weekends. They make the most unforgettable ricotta hotcakes (featured in 5 Exceptional Pancakes You Need To Try in London) and also an irresistible kimchi fried rice with soft shell crab.
Honestly anything I’ve ordered here has always been really good.
Spend per person: GBP20 for brunch/lunch
3. Half Cup – Brunchy Coffee Shop (Brunch/Coffee)
For something a little more unique to King’s Cross, try out this independent cafe’s very extensive (also very “Instagrammable”) brunch offerings. Half Cup is a cozy coffee shop, which is very casual. Their full breakfast is full of everything you’d ever want for breakfast – they also do a truly excellent vegetarian version. It’s satisfying and so delicious. It’s just that the wait on weekends can also be 30-45 minutes.
“What’s your favourite restaurant?” is the king of hard questions. But I never hesitate to mention Barrafina as one of them. It’s one of the restaurants I’ve re-visited the most number of times in London – in fact, I first mentioned it almost 3..
Travelling from London is so easy thanks to the vast number of airports and budget airlines available. But this means that we often overlook all the potential short vacation spots within the UK, which can be much better for weekend getaways.
This is one of my favourite two-day weekend trip itineraries from London.
When a friend recommended the Rough Guide’s Walks in London & The Southeast (links to Amazon) which outlines 45 walks in and near London with pub recommendations, I ordered the book off Amazon within 2 hours, and that’s how this idea of hiking to Battle came about.
(I do get a commission if you purchase via this link, but I genuinely love it.)
1066 Country Walk: 26km from Pevensey to Battle
We hiked for 26km on the 1066 Country Walk Trail from Pevensey to Battle on Saturday, and then combined this with an extra day exploring (read: eating) Hastings on Sunday, which is only 15 mins away. This will definitely be a weekend-itinerary I’ll be raving about for months.
But even for those who don’t want the crazy hike, do still read on. The pit stop pub lunches and our second day exploring the coastal town, Hastings, is definitely a must-do, even without the hike.
One day Hiking for 26km (7 hours)
I have to admit, the hiking part is tough though. This was partly because it was 26km long (!) but also because it was extremely windy that weekend (so windy that the trains stopped working) and the trail was incredibly muddy. The bright spot is that there isn’t much steep uphill/downhill throughout the trail. All in all, it was still pleasantly exhausting, i.e. you’ll feel satisfied with a strenuous workout – a feeling I love!
Tip: you will need to wear hiking boots, seriously. I never thought hiking boots were necessary (I usually hike in my regular running shoes), but the muddy terrain meant that wet mud soaked my feet within an hour of starting the walk.
The Ash Tree Inn – Local Cozy Pub Lunch
I honestly felt like I was at my limit about an hour before we reached the pub for a late lunch. The first part of our walk lasted about 4.5 hours and we reached the pub at 2:30pm. We probably took longer than necessary because we started slow and took our time in the first hour. Despite feeling exhausted at this point, reaching The Ash Tree Inn was exactly what I needed to to re-energise and plough through another 10km after!
The pub felt extremely cozy. We were super hungry when we reached, so a Baked Camembert to start off with was definitely welcomed! They served a great variety of main dishes with local steak, or lamb. But I was feeling the mood for something classic, like the Fish & Chips. That, along with all the other food we ordered, was prepared extremely well.
Powdermills Hotel, Battle
The PowderMills Hotel near Battle – Elegant Restaurant and Delightful English Breakfast
Another 2.5 hours of walking later (about 10.5km), we finally reached our hotel which is near the “inoffensively touristic town” of Battle: The PowderMills Hotel.
The Rough Guide actually recommended this walk as a one-day trip, but I highly urge you to extend it to a two-day weekend trip. A friend picked out 2-3 hotel options, and we ultimately went with PowderMills Hotel, which I would now definitely recommend too. It’s located next to a lake, and has beautiful surroundings. Their restaurant is also excellent.
Powdermills Hotel, Battle
The food served at the hotel’s restaurant was impressive. First, the Orange Marmalade Souffle with Bitter Chocolate Ice Cream is seriously unmissable at dinner. Second, they serve an excellent quality big buffet-style English breakfast – it is the perfect treat to wake up with sore muscles and tired legs to!
While there’s definitely no shortage of shisha lounges around Hong Kong, I always felt like the best ones were concentrated in Central. So I was excited when my sister mentioned this new andreally good shisha bar in Tsim Sha Tsui called HYC.
Hillwood Road is located between Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s not exactly the area you’d expect fancy bars to be located. It’s populated with more down-to-earth restaurants with more local visitors. And indeed, HYC is a little hidden and resides at the top of an unassuming, but very new and modern, building.
New Shisha Lounge on 22nd floor with Beautiful Views
We went with the Watermelon Chill + Absolute Zero (minty) shisha flavour, which was made extremely well. But what was unexpected, was the beautiful views and delicious cocktails. That’s the unique part you don’t always get at other shisha lounges around the city.
Create your own G&T with smoke
Create your own G&T with smoke
Great Cocktails and Selection of Gin
They had a varied, but not overwhelming, selection of crafted cocktails and gin. My sister ordered the Earl Grey Marteani (HK$120) which was expectedly delicious.
You can also craft your own gin and tonic, with smoke! I chose the Citadelle Reserve (HK$130) paired with East Imperial Spiced Orange Ginger Ale and Oak smoke – a combination I would definitely recommend.
Hidden Treat in Tsim Sha Tsui
Restaurants and bars in Tsim Sha Tsui are generally less pricey than their Hong Kong Island counterparts. And as you’re walking along Hillwood Road towards HYC, you definitely wouldn’t expect a fancy bar in the vicinity. (In fact, it’s an area to more-easily get cheap eats especially during lunch.)
Nonetheless, it’s a different and welcomed addition to the area, offering quality cocktails and shisha with beautiful views. Prices are expectedly more expensive, but still reasonable, with most cocktails ranging from HK$100-160, and shisha at HK$380.
HYC (22/F Nathan Hill, 38 Hillwood Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui
When I first walked past Coal Office in Coal Drops Yard, I wasn’t expecting Israeli, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. In fact, I only discovered that the acclaimed Chef Assaf Granit was behind this restaurant, when I started writing this restaurant review. He’s the same chef behind the two renowned restaurants in London: The Palomar and The Barbary.
Coal Drops Yard – Latest Addition to Supergentrified Kings Cross
Coal Drops Yard is the latest curation of beautiful restaurants and shops added to Kings Cross. It opened in late-2018 and is probably my favourite part of the now supergentrified Kings Cross. It’s reason enough to spend a Saturday/Sunday afternoon in Kings Cross! Plus, you can even combine this with a leisurely walk along the Regent’s Canal to Camden Town and even Regent’s Park.
At Coal Office, we luckily got a table (by the bar), without a reservation on a Sunday afternoon. The bar table was actually a great experience. It was almost heartwarming to watch how genuinely passionate the chefs were while creating each of our dishes.
At that moment, the waiter mentioned that dishes are Israeli-Mediterannean inspired and coincidentally said “you won’t find the typical brunch dishes here, because we don’t want to be like that.” We kind of loved that.
Pretzel Homemade Bread from Coal Office, Kings Cross
Lions Gate Pretzel w/ Green Harissa & Dry Za’atar – GBP5
Kickstarting the meal with the “Coal & Wood” section – essentially their homemade breads – the Lions Gate Pretzel itself was quite good. But it was really the dips and spices on the side that made it even more interesting. Actually, the pair next to us ordered Kubalah (brioche style bread) and it looked even better… Maybe I’m just feeling food-fomo.
Josperised Aubergine from Coal Office, Kings Cross
Josperised Aubergine from Coal Office, Kings Cross
Josperized Aubergine w/ Green Tahini, Pistachio – GBP10 *must order*
At one point, five of the same dishes came out of the kitchen at the same time. I had to be a follower and insisted we order it too.
Coal Office perfectly over roasted these aubergines and gave it that pleasantly strong charcoal aroma. The aubergines also had an extremely creamy, soft breakable texture. The dish was so well-decorated with an interesting mix ingredients making it extremely flavourful. I would try to describe it more, but I feel like there’s no description I could pen down to give this dish justice. Trust me, the crowd was right, just order it.
If you’re looking for a dish with the brunchy feels, this is the one. The Kubenedictus is like an eggs benedict, except much more complex. Instead of ham or smoked salmon, they use a generous helping of fork-tender ox cheek that must’ve been cooked for ages. This goes excellently with the delicious homemade brioche bread which soaks up all the juices and hollandaise. It’s bursting with flavours like most other dishes and was definitely another favourite dish here.
Seabass Chraime from Coal Office, Kings Cross
Seabass Chraime from Coal Office, Kings Cross
Seabass Chraime – Tomatoes & Pepper Stew – GBP18
The Shakshuka (another eggs dish) was also tempting at first. But I ultimately ordered the Seabass Chraime for its uniqueness, since it’s not something you usually see at restaurants for brunch. The dish had that shakshuka-style tomatoes & pepper stew, but was then topped with grilled seabass and some chickpeas.
A New Favourite Restaurant
I didn’t know much about Coal Office before we unexpectedly turned up one Sunday. Without knowing its background and the acclaimed chef behind it, we were unbiasedly impressed!
A lot of foodie friends had recommended The Palomar to us before (the acclaimed restaurant this chef is known for). While we enjoyed the food at The Palomar, we loved Coal Office even more. The vibe is quite different; the decor felt slightly more upscale and the ambience was more refined and comfortable. Moreover, the service and incredibly passionate staff just made the whole experience more enjoyable too.
I definitely hope the vibe stays this way, because I’m adding it to one of my favourite restaurants in London!
If you’re looking for more unique brunch spots in London, OPSO is another one of my favourites. They serve Greek-style brunches.
This deliciously moist zucchini breakfast bread recipe was born out of stress baking – which I only recently found out is actually a thing. My issue used to be that I didn’t want to eat all the things I baked, since most baked goods are primarily butter, sugar and flour. That’s when I started experimenting with healthier versions of baked goods.
Plus, you can also easily freeze this loaf of zucchini bread for a hearty breakfast another day.
Jump to Recipe
Homemade Healthy Zucchini Breakfast Bread Loaf
What does “Healthy-ish” mean?
I’ve attempted to make a number of “healthy baked goods”, for example these Sugar-Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, where I replaced sugar with Natvia’s baking stevia. But there are always downsides to extreme replacements. These sugar-free cookies tasted pretty good, but I never got “full” or really satisfied from them. They’re much lower in calories (stevia has zero calories) and you can feel it in the stomach. I would instead end up eating many cookies in one sitting, defeating the whole purpose of a “healthy” option.
So that’s why this is a Healthy-ish zucchini bread. It still has sugar and fat in it, but substantially less amounts.
Much Healthier than Store-Bought Cakes
This recipe makes a delicious loaf of zucchini bread. It’s moist like a banana bread and aromatic like a cinnamon-y carrot cake. It’s healthy and nutritious, so you could guiltlessly eat it for breakfast.
If you’re feeling extra, you could even top it up with some yogurt, healthy granola (I used BEASTFAST‘s latest Chai Spice & Coconut Granola) and fruit.
Healthy Zucchini Bread topped with yogurt and BEASTFAST granola
Healthy Substitutions in this Recipe
This zucchini breakfast bread is much lower in overall calories compared with similar store-bought baked goods, such as the typical banana bread or carrot cake. The main differences are:
Much less sugar: It uses significantly less sugar than other recipes, and about a quarter of one very popular recipe I found! As a result it’s not very sweet and that’s how I like it, especially if I’m eating it for breakfast. Some sugar is still needed to make it tasty.
Replaced “fat” with almond milk: First, this recipe uses olive oil, which is (arguably) more nutritious than butter. Second, I’ve replaced half of the usual “fat” content with almond milk, which is substantially lower in calories.
Half whole wheat flour: Using part whole wheat flour also boosts the nutritional content of the zucchini bread by increasing its fibre content. I didn’t try using only whole wheat flour though; I was afraid it would make the bread too bitter or change the texture.
Healthy Zucchini Breakfast Bread Loaf
Compared with Baked Goods in Coffee Shops
One slice of this zucchini breakfast bread is only 190kcal, with 9g of sugar, 2g of fibre and 4g of protein. The fibre content is actually high enough to be labelled “Source of Fibre”!
Banana Bread at Costa in London
Banana Bread at Starbucks, London
In contrast, at Starbucks, one slice of carrot cake is 323kcal and banana bread is 381kcal, with 28g and 24g of sugar in them respectively.
Use only one mixing bowl
Since I was stress baking, I didn’t want a huge mess to clean up. I placed my IKEA mixing bowl on top of a scale as I added each ingredient directly into the whole mixture. That’s why all the measurements are in grams (and not cups and millilitres).
A lot of recipes tell you to mix the dry ingredients separately first – but I was lazy, and it still turned out great.
This recipe produces a wonderfully moist cinnamon-y loaf of zucchini bread. It reminds me of carrot cake or banana bread, but I’ve reduced the sugar significantly (less than a quarter of what some other recipes call for!). I’ve also used whole wheat flour (higher fibre) and almond milk (lower fat) to create a healthy-ish breakfast which is still extremely tasty.
There are a couple of things you have to do as a tourist in Prague. But after exploring the beautiful old town square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle (the three essentials), what we enjoyed the most was actually a little beyond the typical recommendations and off the beaten track. That’s all thanks to guidance from our local friends!
Here are some relatively unconventional and truly local things to do in Prague after you’ve checked off the key sights.
Beautiful views from Prague Castle
First, The Essential Things-to-Do and Eat
There are many useful articles out there to make sure you cover all the “musts”. Here’s a quick recap:
3 Must-Sees in Prague
Walk around the Old Town Square
Walk across Charles Bridge and along the river on the side to get beautiful shots
Visit Prague Castle
Beautiful view in Prague near Charles Bridge
3 Must-Eats in Prague
Trdelník “chimney” cakes: These are available almost every other corner of Prague 1 (the centre). My one advice would be to try one which is freshly made over charcoal.
Svíčková: Don’t confuse this with “Beef Goulash”. This traditional Czech dish is made with braised beef in a very unique, intriguing and delicious cranberry sauce.
Smažený Sýr: Deep fried cheese is another landmark dish in Prague. But for some reason restaurants were not serving this on New Year’s Day… Does anyone know why?
After we did all the tourist “musts”, we had time to meet up with a local friend for a couple of beers. These were some of the less typical spots recommended by locals, and we enjoyed them more!
1. Větrník Pastry from Upscale Cafe Savoy
I loved the simplicity and chewy dough of the Trdelník (Chimney Cakes) pastries. But I was even more impressed by the refined Větrník from Cafe Savoy.
Větrník is another local sweet pastry – it’s similar to a choux pastry puff, filled with light vanilla cream and topped with caramel.
Cafe Savoy looks like a bit of an institution. You can tell from streets away that it’s definitely more upscale. But no matter what you feel about beautiful tea rooms, the pastry was honestly impressive. We also ordered a slow roasted duck leg and felt the hot dishes also lived up to high expectations.
Slow cooked duck leg with bread dumplings from Cafe Savoy, Prague
No wonder Cafe Savoy is constantly attracting a small crowd at the door. We arrived early in the afternoon (around 12:30pm) and it wasn’t difficult to grab a table for two.
[Jump to Recipe]
I’ve been experimenting with a lot of one-pot rice dishes recently. They’re great because you can wash less dishes. But more importantly, I love that they can be extremely flavourful, because the rice absorbs all the “juices” and flavours contained in the pot, especially when you add chicken.
There are a couple of different versions I like making, but this paella-inspired one is hands down the tastiest. After I posted it on my Instagram story, I received countless replies asking for the recipe. So this one is definitely worth sharing.
First, here was the Instagram story…
Inspired by Spanish Paella Flavours
I won’t pretend that I know paella like the Spanish do. Even at some of the best Spanish restaurants (outside of Spain), the paellas never seem to live up to my memory of the ones I had in Valencia. Moreover, Spanish friends say the best ones are actually the ones made at home.
So this recipe isn’t meant to be authentic. Instead, it was inspired by the bursts of flavours I love from paella, transformed into a dish that can be easily recreated at home, with basic kitchenware.
Homemade Spanish Paella-Style One-Pot Chicken & Shrimp Rice
Chicken & Shrimp Paella
“Isn’t paella usually chicken or shrimp and not both?” Honestly, I don’t know – is it?
But I wanted to eat both chicken and shrimp… So there! If you’re allergic to shrimps, feel free to exclude this from your version and replace it with about 100g more chicken. But the chicken is pretty paramount to the flavours, and shouldn’t simply be taken out of this recipe. It would need to be substituted with something like chorizo.
A 50-mins recipe
Just to manage your expectations, it’s not the most simple or fastest recipe. But trust me, the flavours are going to be worth more than every second you put into it.
Chicken Thigh versus Chicken Breast
I know it’s January and we’re all trying to eat healthy. But it’s important to use chicken thigh fillets and not substitute it with breast. Chicken thighs are much juicier. Indeed they have higher fat content, and these fats are exactly what we need to pump up the flavour of the rice – we also rely on some of these juices, so that we can use minimal about of added oil. Instead, I usually remove the skin of the thigh – the calories are hence not that much higher compared with the breast.
But if you are looking to make chicken breast, check out my Recipe for Chicken Breast Stuffed with Piquillo Peppers and Cream Cheese, or these three flavourful ways to marinate your chicken breast.
This paella-inspired rice packs a lot of fire-y flavours and definitely satisfies a paella-craving that can easily be made at home
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Chicken, Dinner, Rice, Shrimp
150 g Chicken thigh fillet don’t substitute with breast!
200 g Fresh (raw) shrimps peeled
2 cloves Garlic sliced
1 Small white onion chopped
1 Red pepper chopped
2 tbsp Tomato paste concentrate
150 g Paella rice washed
250 ml Chicken stock
100 ml Hot water
4 tsp Smoked Paprika divide into two parts
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp White pepper
Chili flakes optional
Roughly cut chicken thigh into 1-2 inch cubes. Marinate with 1 tsp olive oil, half the paprika (2 tsp), white pepper, salt and chili flakes (if you like a spicy kick). Set aside.
Heat a large pot to medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, sauté the garlic for 15-20 seconds, and add shrimps. Toss shrimps until they just turn orange – about 1-2 mins. They don’t need to be thoroughly cooked. Remove shrimps from pan (keep the juice) and set aside.
Add 1 tsp olive oil into the same pan. Sauté onions and red peppers for 3-5 mins. Add paprika (2 tsp), turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée and mix.
Add the chicken chunks and fry them for about 2-3 mins until the outer layer looks cooked. They don’t need to be thoroughly cooked at this point.
Add the rice. Toss and incorporate for about 5 mins.
Add the chicken stock and extra water. Turn the heat to low-medium, and cover and let it boil for about 10 mins.
Add back in the shrimp and its juices. Cover again, until the rice absorbs all the liquids, about 10 mins.
My food adventures is always an easy starting point to reflect on the year, especially since I post about my life via the food I eat on Instagram so often.
Covering corners around the world in 2017
Last year, I wrote about the 10 favourite restaurants I tried in 2017. It was my goal that year to travel to more “new places”. At the end of the year, with such a diverse list of restaurant experiences, I was happy to check this off the list.
Recommendations from a diverse MBA class at INSEAD in 2018
I continued to travel across different continents in 2018. This time I was lucky to have added input from true locals in each and every country. I met almost 500 people from over 70 different nationalities during my MBA at INSEAD this year. With that, came a privilege I never even dreamt of: I got personal recommendations on every single trip I took this year. In fact, every item on this list was initially a recommendation from friends.
1. Fiskebar (Antwerp, Belgium)
Two of my Belgian foodie friends recommended Fiskebar in Antwerp, claiming that they had the best shrimp croquettes – indeed these were hands down the best croquettes I’ve had in my life. A delicately crispy exterior is a given, but the inside was incredibly creamy, with a perfectly strong dose of shrimp flavours.
But during my 6-month stint in Singapore, I also discovered some excellent restaurants. Birds of a Feather became my favourite restaurant for its creative “east and west” combinations. Think Spicy Oriental Bolognaise, with a touch of Sichuan peppercorn-spice. Here are 12 other Best Restaurants and Cocktail Bars in Singapore.
3. Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse (Paris)
Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse has Three Michelin Stars. In spite of our extremely high expectations, we were still thoroughly impressed by every element of this intricate experience. After my short 4-month stay in France this year, I must conclude that Three Michelin Star restaurants in Paris (where the stars originate) have exceptionally higher standards. Check out the full article on my fine dining experience at Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse.
4. Plow (San Fransisco)
It’s a challenge to avoid gaining 6lbs if you’re travelling to San Francisco. We had numerous impressive meals, with some dinner favourites being Liholiho Yacht Club and Nopa. But the one thing I’ll never forget is the most perfect buttermilk biscuit from our brunch at Plow. The biscuit had perfectly crispy toasted edge with a moist interior – it’s a butter bomb worth every calorie.
Overall this is also a highly recommended spot for brunch. Their signature “The Plow” features the most satisfying brunch combo, with eggs, crispy potatoes, bacon (or sausage) and lemon ricotta pancakes. We shared these food photos to our local friends who recommended the spot, and they proceeded to revisit literally an hour later!
If you’re visiting Beirut for the first time, it’s highly likely that your first proper meal will be “one-of-a-kind”. A traditional Lebanese meal is an experience in itself. Even non-foodies should definitely make this a priority! I’d recommend Enab Restaurantwhich was one of my favourite restaurants our local friends brought us to.
In fact, you can’t say you’ve been to Lebanon, without experiencing a table full of the most delicious hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh salad. Those were always my top three cold mezze dishes.
Bringing out the best of simple ingredients at Baron
The traditional Lebanese meal aside, our dining experience at Baron was one-of-a-kind in a totally different way. Some menu items sounded simple, like “carrots”. But the chef brings out the best of each ingredient. There’s a strong focus on excellent quality produce, carefully interesting combinations and great execution.
A section dedicated to fresh produce – Vegetables
Vegetables are usually lower down the priority rank when I’m ordering at a restaurant. But at Baron, it was the first category presented in the menu. With 14 almost equally appealing choices, we found it hard to move on. A friend urged us that we had to order the cauliflower – it’s apparently a whole one roasted, with spiced butter and tahini-tartare.
Roasted carrots at Baron (Beirut, Lebanon)
Charcoal Roasted Carrot
It was really hard to resist the cauliflower recommendation, but we ultimately decided to go with the carrot. It was charcoal roasted and served with jalapeno yoghurt, quinoa, dukkah and soft herbs. Executed to perfection.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Housemade Bacon *must order*
The sweet potato gnocchi was our second choice, also from the Vegetables section – it sounded like the crowd pleaser we were craving. Although perhaps more Westernised than the other choices, it was so perfectly cooked. It’s definitely a must-order item.
Roasted Halloumi *must order*
Then came the Diary section, which was much more concise. It’s hard not to be a fan of cheese, and so we went with the roasted halloumi. It had the perfect crispy edges. It was served in a unique and interesting citrusy grapefruit and pistachio chili sauce. It’s another dish I’d highly recommend.
Beef Brisket Bao Bun from Baron (Beirut, Lebanon)
Brisket in Steamed Bun
The menu had so much variety. There was also a section on focusing on Seafood, Fowl, Pork, Lamb and Beef. At this point, our only wish was that we weren’t enjoying this as a couple, just so we could try more dishes by sharing them with a larger group.
We ultimately chose the Beef Brisket. This was served in a bao-like steamed bun. The bun was spiced up with a range of toppings, but I was personally less impressed with this dish compared with the earlier vegetable ones.
Baklava with mastic ice cream and rose from Baron Beirut
Baklava with Mastic Ice Cream
At this point, we were both 120% full. But given how impressive the food had been up to this point, we had to give their desserts a shot.
The Baklava sounded most interesting to us. It was served with walnut nougatine, rose petals and mastic nigella seed ice cream. I loved the addition of rose petals, which added that extra twist to lighten and spice up the otherwise relatively traditional taste of Baklava.
Highly recommended dinner spot in Beirut
You probably wouldn’t want to have more than two very traditional Lebanese meals in Beirut, no matter how delicious the typical hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh are. So I’d highly recommend reserving a night for an excellently refined dinner at Baron – it’s an unmissable dining experience.
Baron sports a dimly lit, quiet yet laid back ambience. The service was attentive. Most importantly, the taste and attention to detail in the dishes are impressive.
Baron is also suitable for vegetarians, given the extensive Vegetables and Diary section.
Baron Building 125,
Pharoan Str. Mar Mkhaiel
For reservations, phone: 01 56 51 99; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The brunch dishes at Half Cup look so beautifully presented, that you may even suspect it’s Instagram bait. I happen to live two minutes away from Half Cup. And despite how busy this cafe gets, its proximity to my apartment is not even the reason I’ve become a regular. Instead, I can attest that the food here is generally genuinely as good as it looks!
A word on the long queues…
The first caveat I have to state is that this cafe attracts long queues on weekends. (But so do a lot of other great brunch cafes, like Sunday). Every time I walk by on a Saturday afternoon, there are at least 10-12 people in line. So if you can, try to come on weekdays – it’s still pretty full on weekdays which really vouches for its popularity.
Vegetarian Full English – GBP10 *must order*
My favourite dish at Half Cup is definitely the Vegetarian Full English Breakfast. The combination of ingredients is so satisfying, you wouldn’t even notice it’s vegetarian. And I say this as a meat lover. I love that all the components are cooked perfectly – especially the creamy scrambled eggs, fried halloumi and grilled mushrooms.
The key difference between the regular and vegetarian one is that the vegetarian one has halloumi and avocado instead of bacon. To me, that’s just a better trade off.
Brunch spread at Half Cup, featuring Smashed Avocado and Smoked Salmon on Charcoal Sourdough
Avocado, Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs on Charcoal Sourdough – GBP8
Another one of my favourite dishes here is the Smoked Salmon. They give a generous helping of smoked salmon and avocado. Otherwise it’s just one of my favourite breakfast combinations executed very well.
Parma Ham Pancakes with Cheese and Fried Egg – GBP8
The one thing I didn’t really love here is the pancakes. The feature of parma ham and cheese sounded epic, but I felt that the combination was just too dry. There needs to be some extra sauce to make it work. After a short while, the melty cheese also hardened, which also exacerbated the dry-ness of the whole dish. I did ask for some maple syrup, but it still wasn’t enough to save the dish. That said, the pancakes were indeed fluffy and buttery.
Cozy cafe with great value brunch dishes and coffee
In general, I love Half Cup for its great food, coffee and value. The portions of each dish are quite large. I always leave feeling extremely satisfied and full! The staff are also usually attentive and friendly, adding to the cozy warm vibes of the cafe.
London has a huge selection of brunch cafes and coffee shops, but Half Cup, along with Sunday, has got to be among my Top 5!