A podcast buddy of mine recently published a book titled BRUNCH IS HELL (his caps, that’s how much he hates brunch). It’s actually a sort of dinner party manifesto, but predicated on the idea that
Even if you’ve never been to the Corner Bakery, you’ve likely heard of it. Because: Instagram. I am tagged in at least one random stranger’s photo a week taken in Corner Bakery and another in Pluk. They are inescapable. Corner Bakery serves those milkshake/dessert/junk-food hybrids that Millennials call freakshakes – I think they look revolting but apparently the rest of the world disagrees. Anyway, expect to find pastel hues (Corner Bakery looks like a Millennial pink paint factory exploded in it), kids on a sugar high, 25-year old flippy-haired Instagrammers, and avocado – lots of it.
So what of said fatty fruit? My avocado toast with salmon tasted very fresh and healthy, but it was a shame the avocado had been pureed to a smooth guacamole texture, rather than a chunky avocado smash. Mr Foodie’s BLTA came with avocado (obviously) and a fried egg. Again, the ingredients were fresh and good quality but it all lacked a bit of punch. Plus, the constituent parts kept sliding out of the sandwich – and Mr Foodie is a stickler for manageable food. We both got a cappuccino, which was fine – Corner Bakery’s coffee comes from Lot Sixty One so you’d expect it to be pretty good. And then, since there was already a line out the door by 10.30 am, we did the decent thing and left the Millennial pink to the Millennials.
Libertine Café Café
Apparently the people behind Libertine (the Tao Group) have had such success with it that they’re currently opening their third branch. Perhaps that’s why the one I went to in the Negen Straatjes is called Café twice. (Does that mean it’s the second branch? I can’t keep up.) Inside, the décor is relaxed with low but natural lighting and a bit of greenery to break up the wood-meets-concrete interior.
My first choice from the menu was unavailable (they were out of burrata), so I went with another smoked salmon number: this time two crostini spread with a nice lemony cream cheese, red onion, capers and of course the fish. I appreciated the citrusy freshness, but I could’ve done with a rather bigger portion. Having just got back from a three-week steak ‘n wine holiday, however, I declined dessert – so I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more about the food. My friend reported her coffee to be “above average”, and her flourless orange and almond cake to be good from a flavour POV but a bit dry.
In the eggs department, Libertine has some baked eieren that certainly looked the business from the plate the couple next to me were eating… so perhaps I’ll have to give the brunch thing another go… (sorry Rico).
Basquiat’s brunch is tricky to review because in the evening they serve Vietnamese food from Viet View – which obviously bears no resemblance to eggs Benedict. So bear in mind that what I have to say relates only to their brunch menu as I’ve not been to Basquiat in the evening. There’s one exception to this caveat, however: the temperature. Presumably that’s the same whatever time of day you go, and when we were there it was freezing. A classic case of a restaurant heated to suit the people working there (who are running around) rather than the customers (who are sitting still).
But moving onto the food: I ordered the spelt bread with cottage cheese, tomato, avocado and smoked salmon (unwittingly, I seem to have ordered almost the exact same dish at all three restaurants in this post). You can’t go too far wrong by just piling up those ingredients on a plate, but I would’ve appreciated some lemon juice and better quality tomatoes (it was the middle of winter, but still – there are ways and means, if you insist on serving tomatoes in January).
My brunch companions all got the eggs Benedict, and I’m glad I didn’t. The eggs were cold, Basquiat had decided to use brioche buns instead of English muffins (why is it so hard to get an English muffin around here?!), and the Hollandaise sauce tasted like mustard mayonnaise – i.e. nothing like Hollandaise sauce. The meal – complete with a coffee and fresh OJ apiece – came to €20 each, which seems to be just about standard for brunch these days. You’d hope they could turn the heating on for that amount of money… or maybe just serve a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho for brunch instead.