The Independent once called this neck of the woods “the most fertile’ in London. If you’re allergic to kiddies, modern mums in dazzling white Adidas Stan Smiths and heavily bearded dads in round tortoiseshell frames then you may want to have Sunday brunch elsewhere. But then, if you ‘brunch’ at all, then this is exactly where you need (and want) to be.
I’ve been stalking The Good Egg since it opened late last year, always just missing out on an opening and never in the mood to queue, but I’ve finally satisfied my authentic shakshuka craving and developed a lust for sweet Babka breads…
London on a Plate is all about the details, the experience of eating food and the way attractive surroundings enhance the sensory experience of filling one’s belly. Turning eating into feasting, if you will. It’s a beautiful and completely true idea that’s not at all novel but difficult to expand on in pared down, stripped back East/ North London. As such, the Good Egg perfectly displays what could perhaps be described as #InstaMinimalism (I cannot take responsibility for this hashtag) - that wood tabletop, white wall, coffee mug brimming with decorated foam look – give or take the edge of a newspaper or a copy of Vogue.
It’s very simple. This isn’t Berners Tavern, but then this isn’t Central London. It is cute though – there’s a wall of neatly packaged, probably ethically sourced and sustainable artisanal coffee across the back wall, jars of preserves and some fresh produce for a little colour. The Church Street crowd wouldn’t have it any other way. That said, the place is busy and the vibes are good, the food is even better – the patrons will be your decoration.
Brunch is popular in Stoke Newington, and getting a weekend morning table at The Good Egg is like gold dust. I had heard about their shakshuka so I bypassed the porridges, pitas and salads. With this dish gaining so much popularity over the past couple of years, I’ve had many an average-to-bad hot iron pan of rubbery eggs drowned in chunky tomato-flavoured water with a few random slices of spicy meat thrown in. It’s a simple dish that just requires a little seasoning, assemblage and good timing, which is why many go so wrong.
This shakshuka on the other hand, was nicely put together but also exactly on point, texture-wise. The baked eggs, still soft on the inside were surrounded rather than swimming in a rich tomato and red pepper mix, with preserved lemon yoghurt, sumac and a seeded challah roll on the side. I had mine with rare-breed merguez sausage but there is a veggie halloumi option.
The brunch menu consists of comforting, high-octane Israeli breakfasts, a spicy, healthy, exciting change from the classic full English. Share Cornbread, griddled and served with salted honey butter and Yemenite green chilli zhoug or Dak Dak salad (Middle Eastern salad of pine nuts, parsley, cucumber, tomato).
I was fortunate enough to be seated at the bar on my first visit where I get a great view of the busy cook’s endeavours. Sliced and cored avocados are fried, filled with poached eggs and sprinkled with spices, colourful Iraqi pita’s are stuffed with egg, fried aubergine, zhoug, mango amba, tahini and house pickles. Ingredients are not in short supply, these are very interesting plates of food.
From my privileged vantage point, I had the pleasure of meeting Oded (who previously baked for Ottolenghi), who persuaded me to try one of his Babka slices. It’s a twisted loaf cake with a kind of cinnamon bun feel to it, but much softer, with the centre verging on puggingy. Oded may have been immodest when recommending his bread, but his pride is definitely not misplaced!
The Good Egg is open everyday until 11pm, except on Mondays (Mon 9-4pm).
Bookings and walk-in’s accepted.
93 Church Street
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