What: Nowadays, like insta-stories and slogan T’s, brunch is a “thing-to-do”, consuming our Sunday’s with bloody Mary’s and eggs Florentine. Could we call it a trend? Probably not, as it looks like the tasty alternative to breakfast and lunch – but rather a conglomerate of the two – is here to stay, and I’m not complaining. A hop on the bustling Saturday morning tube to Islington saw me visit Beyond Bread, a bakery that opened-up-shop in Fitzrovia in 2015, and has since expanded onto a counter in Selfridges and a second branch in Islington, that I had the pleasure of visiting.
The Setting: Intricately set amongst little boutique stores on Islington’s Upper Street, a short walk from the Highbury and Islington tube, Beyond Bread is quite the hidden gem, with a glossy black, simplistic exterior and a hip typeface highlighting the name. The setting is ideal for a Saturday stumble into brunch.
The Look: Inside replicates the out, fresh and simple but bold in bakery bits ‘n bobs set in the glass cabinets inside, immediately getting the taste-buds tickling upon entry with banana breads, bulging sandwiches and a fridge full of refreshments to lust over. There are a row of seats upon wandering further into the small space, along with an intricate sun-trap set at the back of the space, ideal for a Saturday e-mail binge or a nestle with a good book.
On the Menu: Pioneers on the gluten-free front, Beyond Bread is renowned for its thoughtful flavours that cater to palette’s one and all. They might be gluten-free but this takes no toll on aromas and flavours. The menu features a bread section – unsurprising given the name – which boasts pumpernickel, brioche, seeded loafs and more. Other offerings that are beyond bread (get it?) include a Morning Goods section with sweet-tooth enticers in the form of chocolate and custard danish and almond croissants. The brunch menu doesn’t brim with unexpected combinations and unheard of options, but that’s what is quite sweet about it – it keeps things simple, and offers brunch favourites like smashed avo and French toast.
What We Ate: My friend and I “umm-ed” and “ahh-ed” a little about the menu, deciding whether to go for something outside the box or stick with what we know. Sorry to break it to you, we stuck with what we knew. However, this was because we wanted to see how it compared with other brunch offerings we’d had. So, we began with a bread board with a selection of seeded loaves, yeast free sourdoughs and brioche. I championed the brioche, it was such a delicate and light offering. The seeded loaf was also flavoursome and tasted like you’d just inhaled a whole wellness festival – earthy, nutritious and wholesomely healthy.
Next it was onto the classics, my friend opting for the oak smoked loch duart salmon with pumpernickel, St. Ewes poached eggs, salad, chives and turmeric pickled silver skin onions. Whilst I had the smashed avocado (I know, so experimental aren’t I), with seeded bread, St. Ewes poached eggs, toasted almond flakes, Roquette and pomegranate seeds. The presentation of the dishes was very photogenic, just what you lust over after an insta-scroll. The plates are very earthy, which is similar to the interior. We really liked the combination of flavours used in our dishes. Pomegranate seeds taste excellent coupled with a mouthful of St. Ewes eggs. However, on the egg front we were both quizzical over the slightly dry yolk. We did expect it to be runnier than it was, however it didn’t take away from the overall flavour. The salmon was fresh and gone in one foul swoop, with the pickled silver skin onions adding an extra layer to the mix.
What We Drank: It was a toss-up between coffee and vino, so of course in that trying situation we went for both! The black americano and flat white we opted for were the perfect pick-me-ups, and actually one of the nicest coffees I’ve had. Onto the Rosé, we had a small glass each, swarmed in crisp and refreshing tastes. The drinks selection isn’t obtrusive, rather awash with healthy juices and comforting coffee.
Go With: Your best mate – who doesn’t love a catch-up over avo and a coffee?
Where: 267 Upper Street, N1 2UQ, www.beyondbread.co.uk
Final Word: Beyond Bread is the post-partying brunch that sets you up for the day, replacing hair of the dog with some good old fashioned eggs on toast. A warming experience.
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