On a decidedly wintry morning, Shoreditch’s The Book Club at first seemed like more of a summer place. It’s an airy, spacious couple of rooms with high ceilings, wooden floors, and huge windows looking out on to Leonard Street. Its exposed pipes and bare brick are decidedly post-industrial, and not initially particularly cosy. I don’t know whether it’s just good central heating, but the impression is largely dispelled upon entering. The personable nature of the staff and the ping pong table in the next room create an atmosphere of down-to-earth bonhomie, which is something that a lot of Shoreditch venues fall short of.
That the Book Club is a nightclub in the evenings is almost unnoticeable at breakfast time. There are no sticky floors or ironic graffiti left over from the presumably intensive clean-up operation. In fact, it might make a great place to eat off a hangover. The food here is of a hugely impressive standard, especially considering that the venue is more of a bar/club than a typical restaurant. The single buttermilk pancake with maple syrup, raspberries, bananas and strawberries sounded like it might be a bit thin, but the reality was a huge cloud of a pancake that would make a bumper breakfast for anyone. The bacon, from Smithfield’s Market, was salty and perfectly proportioned to come through the richly floral maple syrup. For those that enjoy this combination of flavours, it can be easy to go wrong. If bacon and syrup are incorrectly balanced you can lose one of the flavours altogether, but The Book Club’s chef obviously knows his stuff. The homemade granola was, for me, even better, purely because it’s not usually something I’ll consider. This stuff had an amazing crunch to it, though, and the sheer amount of dried and fresh berries meant that it wasn’t remotely dry, even without milk. The fact that the menu changes each week was honestly surprising; this is a chef who seems to have such familiarity and affinity with his dishes. On the other hand, it’s a great reason to keep coming back, as I surely will.