Looking for a quiet place to work and eat? Bored of Starbucks or cramming yourself into the tiny and trendy hangouts that notoriously offer infamous artisan coffee, yet never have anywhere to sit?

If you live in London and you are within reach of Farringdon, ‘Ask for Janice‘ could be your new little spot for some uninterrupted work and interesting food.

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The decor is definitely trendy and in-keeping with that of many cafes in the East, with exposed pipework an brick work, recycled furniture and edgy artwork. However, the service is far from arrogant.

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Friendly and happy staff were happy to greet me upon arrival and I was eating from the breakfast menu within fifteen minutes of arriving. Albeit the fast service, there wasn’t a “rushed” environment at all, I spent just under two hours with my laptop, free wifi, breakfast and various hot drinks before I decided to go.

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The earl grey tea was loose leaf and really delicious.

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The mushrooms on toast with a poached egg was the perfect little vegetarian brunch for me this morning! The poached egg had a perfectly cooked runny yolk, may I add.

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Just be careful if you sit by the door, on a colder day the “wind tunnel” action that occurs down Long Lane could make it a slightly less pleasant dining experience than you had expected, but on a warmer day like today it was welcomed.

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Customers moved in and out of the restaurant quickly, meaning that it never felt overcrowded. However, due to the restaurant being so close to the city and offering breakfasts from 7.30am, I can imagine it’s much busier before 9am, around lunchtime and after 5pm (for their famous gin list). So, if you have a free day, then go during the quieter periods like I did and you’ll have a spacious and uninterrupted work place.

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The closest tube stations are Barbican and Farringdon, so if you are looking for a new space to do a bit of blogging or work, then try out Ask For Janice.

This weekend I decided to delve further Eastwards in search of a wonderful coffee house with a great brunch. Shoreditch is renowned for it’s urban, bohemian vibe and the younger crowd that it attracts.

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Street art in Shoreditch

When I think of Shoreditch or the East as a whole, the words that come to my mind first are often ‘quirky,’ ‘hipster’ and ‘art.’ It’s definitely a more thrilling place to be for a twenty something year old Londoner – but on top of this, the food is generally cheaper.

‘Ozone Coffee Roasters’ on Leonard Street in Shoreditch is where I sat down on Sunday and had brunch.

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As we waited for our table we watched the coffee roasting going on below

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The decor inside is similar to that of many trendy restaurants and bars nowadays, with the interior pipes of the building protruding from the ceiling and copper/steel on show, adding to the urban vibe.

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We were seated at the bar, so we were able to see our food being made. The chefs were all working exceptionally fast to keep up with the amount of orders coming in. One thing I wasn’t impressed with was to see one chef eating some of the ingredients every time he went to make an order of the pancakes – switching between putting your hands in your mouth and then on the customers plate isn’t hygienic or pleasant!

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The only other qualm we had was with the size of the George’s latte, little too small for our liking. It was incredibly creamy and delicious – meaning the ungenerous portion was even more disappointing. Such a tease!

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However, apart from these hiccups, my brunch was to die for. Ozone offer an all day brunch menu. For £11.50 I had the Eggs Benedict on Bubble ‘n’ Squeak with hollandaise and dill salmon which was the most expensive brunch item on the menu.

The “bubble and squeak” was deep fried potato balls covered in breadcrumbs with some peas inside. It was mouth-watering. Perfectly poached eggs and who would have thought to put fried potato balls with poached eggs?!

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George had the ‘Eggs any style on The Dusty Knuckle seeded sourdough’ with herbed avocado as an extra for £9, which he also thoroughly enjoyed.

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The service was friendly and laid back in Ozone, but who’s rushing around on a Sunday for brunch anyway? I’d definitely come here for the coffee if anything, which you can order to takeaway.

If you want to visit: 11 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4AQ

Take a peak at the website: http://www.ozonecoffee.co.uk/

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Daylesford Organic Farm Shop

Being a country girl I was more than excited to discover a “Daylesford Organic Farm Shop” tucked away in Notting Hill. Even though there are supermarkets like Whole Foods available around London, it is still nice to find a smaller and less commercialised organic food shop. Once you’ve made your way past the vibrant organic food, you’ll find a lovely restaurant which offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. There was no queue to get a table and the service was fast and friendly, rare for a restaurant offers brunch on a Sunday!

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The shop

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The restaurant

I headed here for brunch on a Sunday morning and being a poached egg and smoked salmon fanatic I had to get the poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise (£12.50), the eggs were cooked to perfection. However, I definitely could have done with more sourdough bread to mop up the hollandaise sauce (to die for) and the egg yolk. I would thoroughly recommend the hollandaise, it was rich and creamy, just as it should be.

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George had scrambled eggs, toast and streaky bacon (£9.50). The eggs were buttery and there was plenty of them but even though the bacon was delicious, it wasn’t crispy enough for me!

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Organic love heart, what a lovely view!

I’m a fan of anywhere that serves a Bloody Mary or an alcoholic beverage with brunch, However, I opted for a non-alcoholic Virgin Mary (£5) at Daylesford – it definitely packed a punch! The fiery pepper and tomato juice gave more of a kick to my morning than any caffeine could have done and it’s far better for you, worthy of try if you like it hot and spicy.

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Virgin Mary

The highlight of my meal had to be the walnut and fruit toast with jam and butter (£4) which I ordered separately. I’ve never felt so comforted and satisfied by a piece of toast and I probably could have eaten three to four slices more. At least you know you’re getting some protein in from the walnuts whilst curbing your carb cravings, it isn’t all bad!

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So, it may not have been the healthiest meal in the world with the creamy hollandaise, streaky bacon and bread. However, Daylesford do some seriously healthy and yummy looking yoghurt bowls with ingredients such as goji berries and flax seeds if you’re trying to stay fit this January. I think I’m going to have to head back here just for the fruit toast.

 

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The celebrations may be ending but the new diets are definitely beginning. It’s the cliche “new year, new me” and guaranteed you will feel like you aren’t hearing the end of it. But in all fairness, after a month of gluttony, everyone could benefit from a bit of dry January and some “detoxing”.

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The Detox Kitchen on Mortimer Street

The Detox Kitchen Deli on Mortimer Street is where I kick started the new, healthy approach this weekend. It’s quite hard to spot if you don’t know where it is.  There is no grand advertising outside the restaurant on this very dormant street, yet it was packed to the brim on the inside. There is even a fitness studio on the lower ground floor. Their slogan – “where healthy meets delicious” – couldn’t be more relevant.

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The Detox Kitchen offers a pick and choose service where you can pick the size of your portion and then choose your salads and protein accordingly. All of their dishes are wheat free, dairy free and free of refined sugar. A medium sized container is £5.95 for three to four salads and a portion of protein will cost you an extra £3.

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There were around eight delicious salads to choose from, three different types of protein and three vegetarian protein options. All of the food was packed full of flavour, defying the myth that healthy food has to be boring. On top of the deli food on offer, there is also an eat in brunch menu available here.

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There are also a wide range of smoothies and juices to choose from if that’s all you’re after – I had “protein power,” which was heavenly, and a meal in itself! One warning I would issue is that strict dieters beware as the calories aren’t listed on the food description labels. However, if you have the “My Fitness Pal” app, you can probably work it out yourself (give or take a calorie or two).

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Delicious vegetarian frittata at the front and other protein in the back

I’ve got to say, the food was absolutely delicious! They really go all out on flavour here, the “roasted squash, grilled pepper and paprika dressing” salad had to be my favourite – not to mention the pesto courgetti or the cauliflower and avocado salad. They don’t do boring salads here and you really have to try the food to experience the flavours.

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A medium sized portion with protein

The Detox Kitchen was heaving on a Saturday afternoon. The layout of the restaurant is made up of two long tables that fit about seven people each and there are a further three separate tables that can fit four at a push, meaning that if you can’t get your own smaller table you will have to share with others who are trying to enjoy their Detox Kitchen experience too.

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The decor is simple and modern, yellow tulips on the table definitely added a brightness to the dining experience. A wall of live plants greets you as you come in, adding to the whole earthly, detox feel they are going for here.

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The wall of live plants

You’ll need to check that there is available seating when you walk in as I witnessed a couple of people buying a delicious “eat in” plate of food, without first checking there were free tables to sit at, needless to say they were left standing there for a while whilst they waited for a table to free up.

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The staff were all incredibly lovely and three different members came over to check that the food was okay and that we had what we needed. There was a slight delay in making my smoothie so they upgraded it from a regular to a large at no extra cost which was an unexpected surprise!

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Protein Power

We were also given added extras of hummus and sweet potato with our meal at no extra cost. I couldn’t actually finish my regular size portion because they were so incredibly generous with their portion sizing.

The Detox Kitchen is perfect for a healthy lunch outing, I was left feeling comfortably full and extremely satisfied by what I had eaten, it’s even left me considering a dairy free & wheat free way of life. I’m dying to go back again. There are also other Detox Kitchen outlets in London that offer services such as grab & go.

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Enjoying a Protein Power smoothie

Lunch for two with two regular sized portions, two pieces of protein, a regular smoothie and a coffee came to just over £24.

If you want to visit: Fitzroy Place, 10 Mortimer St, London W1T 3JJ

Take a peek at the website: http://detoxkitchen.co.uk

My top pick for today is Balans Soho Society, located in Kensington (187 Kensington High St, London, W8 6SH) and Soho (60-62 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4UG). Breakfast is served between 8am and 12pm everyday and brunch is served from 8am to 5pm on weekends. George opted for The Soho Full English (£9) whilst I had 2 eggs any way (£5). My eggs were poached and cooked to perfection, accompanied with bacon (£2) and avocado (£2). We were greeted by a friendly & attentive waiter, festive music and an extensive brunch menu that any hungover party-goer would die for! Balans offer “remedial action” in the form of Bloody Mary’s (£7.50) and Bucks Fizz (£7.50) and plenty of other cocktails and “hair-of-the-dog” tipples to take your fancy. After a night full of Sauvignon Blanc this place is a haven, and upon a quick scan of the room we realised that we weren’t the only ones who had come here to seek aid from the night before. As Balans’ website says, “brunch without prosecco is just a sad late breakfast.”

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The food was all cooked beautifully, not an overcooked egg or fatty piece of bacon in sight. Balans also offer sweeter options such as French toast and pancakes. Check out the menu here:

http://www.balans.co.uk/restaurant/kensington-london/