Yelly Eats

A meal in grand surroundings

This was a review I published on my TripAdvisor page.

The current structure of the Royal Exchange in London was designed by William Tite and it was opened by Queen Victoria in 1844. It currently houses luxury shops and offices. I didn’t know that you could go in and look around it because I thought it was part of the Bank of England. I thought entry was restricted to people going there on official business.

I was recently told that there was a cafe inside and that it was open to the public. It was sign posted outside and we usually get on a bus that goes past the Royal Exchange. I don’t know how I missed the signs for a cafe and shopping outside! I guess when you don’t look for something, you completely miss it when you see it!

When you do go in, try to go in via the main entrance, where the portico and pediment are. Walk up the steps, walk past the gorgeous 8 Corinthian columns and go through the green iron-wrought gates. Once you are through the double glass doors, remember to look up. The interior of the Royal Exchange is breathtaking!

Right-smack-dab in the middle of the original Royal Exchange courtyard is the Royal Exchange Grand Cafe and Bar. When we went in May, the very chic oval bar was decorated with lovely cherry blossoms (I think the theme changes every season). I thought we would be underdressed because it was where the financiers of London worked (plus you had luxury shops like Boodle, Omega and Mont Blanc surrounding the courtyard) as we were dressed to be London tourists for the day. But we were greeted very warmly by the cafe staff and we were seated immediately (come early if you want to have a leisurely breakfast – I guarantee the surroundings will make you want to dawdle and gawp!).

The staff are very efficient but you don’t feel rushed. Our server was amazing, very friendly and I never felt scared to ask questions. The breakfast menu was quiet good: you had an option to go Continental and have toast and tea (or coffee) or your choice of an eggy breakfast (poached, scrambled, fried or in an omelette) with your choice of additions. If you preferred, you could have a pastry for breakfast or cake. It’s almost silver service but not formal enough for you not to enjoy your breakfast and stare at the sumptuous surroundings.

We chose to eat a light breakfast of toast and tea. I chose it because I loved sourdough bread and they served you that (you had the option of choosing the seeded bread too). When the toast came, I was pleasantly surprised because we got more than I expected to get. You get 2 types of jams (they came in individual-sized jam pots) per person and a large pat of French butter. The staff are solicitous and they do ask you if you need more jam or butter. I love to slather butter on my toast so I had to ask for more and they provide that with a smile and flourish. You get your tea served in a silver teapot but I do have to warn you, if you get the teapots with the metal handle, ask for an extra napkin to wrap around the handle because it is hot! The staff are very understanding though so they are happy to provide you with more napkins.

The Grand Cafe also does afternoon tea. They are currently running a Japanese-themed afternoon tea, which runs until 30 June. You may need to visit the Royal Exchange Grand Cafe website to see what their offerings are if you intend to visit after 30 June. You will be served a savoury course and then a sweet course. They aren’t stingy with the tea. I call it a tea-all-you-can service. You can change you tea choice mid-way if you choose. You can choose to start with a fruit infusion, or a mint tea and finish with a green or black tea option. If you don’t ask for more tea, the wait staff will ask you if you want more tea, and you don’t get charged for it. The teas are part of the set price that you pay. It is currently £20 for the classic afternoon tea and £28 for a cocktail afternoon tea. There is a 12.5% service charge.

Whilst they don’t do the traditional tiered cake stand type of presentation, I think it changes according to the afternoon themes. I might go back to find out!

It is good value for money, for where it’s situated. The service is wonderful and I can’t say it enough that I loved how friendly the staff were. They encourage you to have a wander around as well because there are gorgeous murals that can be viewed from the mezzanine level where the Gallery is situated.

It is an experience not to be missed, and not a lot of people know that you CAN have the experience!

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Yelly Eats

A gem off the beaten path: Coleman Coffee Roasters

Coleman Coffee Roasters frontWe came across this lovely café quite by accident.  We were exploring Lower Marsh and the rain started to come down quite heavily.  We were also looking for a place to have breakfast because our usual cheap eat favourite Marie’s on the same street was closed.

We took shelter and the smell of coffee  wafting from the beautifully gleaming vintage espresso machine was amazing!  We were greeted with a really welcome “Hello guys!” so we went further in and looked at the menu.  We were intending to be polite and just have coffee and possibly cake.  But they served Staffordshire oatcakes or “oaties” and there was quite a choice from sweet to savoury fillings for the oat pancakes.  We’d never had oaties before so our curiousity was piqued!  We chose to have bacon and stewed tomatoes.  The aroma of cooking bacon was amazing, and boy were the oaties oh-so-fabulously good!  It rated an “oh-my-God-this-is-amazing!” with my mouth full of oatie-bacon-tomato goodness!  The oaties were light but surprisingly filling.  I expected to feel full and bloated after, but I didn’t.  It was heaven on a plate.

oaties!Now. let’s get to the lovely brew!  I opted for drip coffee because it’s what I do when trying out a new coffee place (my better-safe-than-sorry coffee measure).  I was offered a choice between the Guatemalan and another blend (I think it was Costa Rican blend) and I chose the Guatemalan.  It was very nostalgic for me because it was served on a Duralex looking cup, which reminded me so much of the French coffee cups that my father favoured.  At first I was worried because the drip coffee looked light and watery.  But oh no, was I VERY wrong!  The coffee was rich, comforting and oh-so-flavourful.

Mmmm coffee!The staff are lovely, very friendly, so very helpful and they know their products.  They’re happy to explain what they sell, what you’re options are and they give you lovely recommendations.  They also love what they’re selling.  That’s key!

This isn’t quite on the main road from Waterloo Station, but this is definitely worth a visit.  The space is small and there are only a few seats, but that’s part of the charm.  If you have the opportunity to wander around Lower Marsh, pay the lovely folks at Coleman Coffee Roasters a visit.  It is DEFINITELY worth it!

Coffee and oaties!

Yelly Eats

Croque Madame Muffins

Rachel Khoo burst into the TV cooking scene early this year with her little Paris kitchen exploits.  When I first saw the TV adverts for her show on the Beeb, I wondered if it was all too good to be true.  Everything was neat, tidy and oh-so-trés-Français.  But I was very (very!) curious so I made sure her show was sky-plussed.

I loved everything about the show.  It somehow de-mystified french cooking for me and seemed to make it more accessible.  I’ve got Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, but have never tried any of the recipes.  French cuisine is, really, quite daunting (to me it is, anyway).  I’ve cracked the book spine by reading it but haven’t really had the courage to actually try one of the recipes (yes, I know I really should!).

Because I enjoyed the show and the recipes that were featured (and thought I’d be a dab hand at trying out the recipes) I bought Rachel’s book and it really is quite adorable.  The illustrations in the book are completely hers (and considering her visual arts background, I wasn’t surprised that the little illustrations were good, and really quite refreshing to see in a cook book!). 

The first recipe I’ve tried and have always come back to in the cookbook is the recipe for croque madame muffins.  They are simple to make and they taste absolutely scrummy.  There are only 6 ingredients: bread, butter, eggs, ham, cheese and bechamel sauce!  If you are considering buying this book, do, if only for the croque madame muffin recipe!  They’re wonderfully tasty and oh-so-easy to make.  And, they do, come out quite beautifully.  When you pull them out of the oven and see their lovely golden bakedness, you can’t help but say, “Oh wow!  I made that!”

Yelly Eats

Breakfast

One of my favourite restaurants in London serves all-day breakfasts.  As a Filipino, breakfast is a very important meal.  We were raised to value breakfast.  I remember being continually scolded by my mother when I try to skip breakfast.  When I discovered the Breakfast Club, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  While they don’t have the traditional Filipino beef tapa or longganisa with garlic fried rice,  I am a fan of the full English breakfast and they have the best spread I’ve seen so far!  But they’re not limited to just English breakfasts.  They have Huevos Rancheros and a really good Chorizo Hashbrown plate.  They have the most amazing Eggs Benedict and their Green Eggs and Ham is dee-lish.  You also have a choice of the divine French toasts and amazing stacked pancakes.  But you do have the healthy option too, because they serve oats and fruity options as well.

If you’re ever in London, you must find a way to have a meal at the Breakfast Club at one of their locations.  The service is friendly and the food is amazing!  Worth every penny!  And mind you, you don’t have to shell out a lot of pennies to enjoy the HUGE breakfasts 🙂

Chorizo Hashbrowns by Breakfast Club