Stung by the reality of the morning after the night before (I'm talking Brexit, y'all), John and I headed to Petit Pois Bistro in Hoxton Square to drown our sorrows in mimosas, coffee and the promise of a delicious brunch.
I said "promise" of a delicious brunch because, well, brunch in London has kind of let me down lately. I've been to several highly-hyped restaurants recently that have looked amazing on Instagram, but in reality, the coffee was burnt, the potato rostis under seasoned, the service less-than-friendly ... you get my drift. Disappointment after disappointment.
But Petit Pois Bistro doesn't need the hype - it already has an impressive CV. The restaurant is the latest from Alastair Burgess and Chris Smith (whose background in Michelin-starred restaurants and street food is noteworthy), owners of Happiness Forgets (what a great name, right?), a popular bar situated just downstairs.
A mimosa in, with 5 minutes of sunshine beating down on us outside, I'll admit I was still skeptical. I scanned the "Day Time" menu and was heartened to see breakfast and brunch options being served between 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The concept of all-day brunch or breakfast is still a bit unfamiliar to Brits, but in the US, we're all about that scrambled eggs or stuffed French toast for breakfast, lunch or - yes - even dinner.
I finally settled on the Eggs Benedict, while John opted for the Scrambled Eggs on Toast with Gravadlax - a favorite of ours. I chose Eggs Benedict because I always judge a restaurants by its poached eggs and, well, Petit Pois did not disappoint.
Beautifully poached, the bright orange yolk oozed onto two delicate slices of toasted (or were they fried?) brioche. That, paired with a sliver of ham and watercress, made the perfect forkful. The watercress was a game changer: eggs benedict (or eggs royale, for that matter) can often taste heavy and rich. Petit Pois' version was a little lighter and more enjoyable to taste: the hollandaise had a hint of heat, which kept each bite from tasting too same-y.
John's scrambled eggs and gravadlax was anything but basic:
Not only was it beautiful, but the eggs were also the perfect consistency: not too runny yet not overcooked. A gorgeous plate.
Just when I thought I couldn't praise the food quite enough, the coffees arrived - two flat whites that were damn good and served with a laid-back, friendly approach that made us want to settle in and stay a while.
We weren't the only ones: despite its nascent position in the square, the tables around us quickly began to fill and, before we left, I spotted Minute Steak Frites (with a fried egg) being served to a table outside while another couple began to dig into a heaping pot of Moules Frites.
In addition to this, the decor of Petit Pois - both inside and out - makes the most of the small space. John and I marvelled at how much thought and detail goes in to creating a beautiful space for eating (and just how much it matters). Exposed brick and marble tables allowed the main attraction (the food) to truly shine on simple, earthenware crockery. But as I explained above, the quality of the food easily spoke for itself.
If there was one takeaway (no pun intended) from our experience at Petit Pois, it was that we far too often stand in lines for and reserve tables at mediocre establishments - often without realizing it. Or we try to convince ourselves that the wait was really worth it. Sampling the all-day brunch menu at Petit Pois reminded me that, actually, good food - I mean, really good food, borne out of an authentic passion and love for cooking and cuisine - exists.
Our brunch at Petit Pois Bistro was complimentary (thank you!), but I'd easily go back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths. It's open now at 9 Hoxton Square for all-day brunch and dinner.