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Monday, 12 August 2013
Words &Photography by Felicity Spector
It was a boiling hot night with a humidity that seemed more like New Orleans than north London. So the idea of a night time jazz brunch seemed particularly apt: especially when I heard it was hosted by The Good Egg, whose egg-based menu has already attracted widespread praise.
The evening was laid on by the new food business incubator Kitchenette, who have rented an old Citroen garage just off Islington’s Upper Street for the entire summer, where they’re hosting an eclectic series of talks, classes and one-off food events. The Good Egg are serving up brunches there most days between 8am and 3pm, but cooking it up for dinner was a chance to cater for a different crowd.
The man at the helm in the kitchen is 26 year old Joel Braham, who had a spell working in pubs and restaurants before taking a degree in accoustics: the guys in the jazz band were all friends he’d met from his music days. Before launching the brunch start-up, he spent time getting more experience with the likes of Ottolenghi and Arbutus, and the quality of his food and the imaginative menu certainly shows the benefit.
Hidden off the main Islington drag, the former garage has been transformed into a light, airy space by the Kitchenette team, with trestle tables and a lovely open air courtyard with more space to sit and eat. The daily changing menu is chalked up on a board at the back, although there are regular favourites like shakshuka, a North African tomato stew with eggs and preserved lemon yoghurt, served with chunks of sourdough bread.
On the night I went along, there was also a spin on eggs Benedict, with poached eggs on potato rosti served with crispy pork belly, hollandaise and a healthy portion of crackling, or a breakfast burrito packed with more of that spicy chorizo, salsa and guacamole.
I decided to try the sweet potato hash, with a pair of fried duck eggs and a smattering of grated cheese on top, which I chose to have with beetroot, neat cubes of it nestled among the smooth sweet potato, spiked with some fried onion to cut the sweetness. It was absolutely delicious, and I found myself scraping the plate. In fact it was so good that I asked the girl next to me if I could try some of her Benedict just to check if that was up to the same standard - and I can promise you it was.
The jazz was as mellow as the atmosphere, the room was buzzy and everyone seemed to be having a good time - sitting in the unusual warmth of that August night, under the flickering shadows of candlelight, it really did seem more like Louisiana than London.
Joel has taken his brunches on the road as part of the Kerb collective, and Kitchenette have given him a leg-up as part of their test site for new traders who show serious talent . The Islington site has offered him his first chance to run a proper central kitchen, and he’s now looking for more permanent premises: this year, he said, was more about learning and trying things out, rather than making serious cash.
The Kitchenette pop-up runs daily until the end of August, but check their website http://www.wearekitchenette.com/ for the ever-expanding list of special events. There’s another chance to brunch in style with The Good Egg at the Hangover Club in the Skyroom near London Bridge, every weekend - and, in the hope of trying more of that delicious sweet potato hash, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Joel finds his permanent site very soon.