Palm Vaults

Pastels, plant pots and the prettiest coffees in Hackney 

Walking down E8's Mare Street you'll be able to spot Palm Vaults almost immediately. The avocado green exterior is distinctly 1970s and is topped with the cafe's name in glittery capital letters. 

Step inside and you're transported away from Hackney and instead to what could be the set for a Wes Anderson film. The interior is different to anything else in London at the moment, with marble table tops, suspended pastel plant pots overhead and everything awash with pastel pink and green down to the napkins and till roll. 

There are lots of vegan and vegetarian options at PV. Try their Palm Vaults classic: smashed avo on sourdough with a dressed salad. You can pick your own toppings with crumbled feta and sundried tomato being the obvious choices for us. Their pastel palette even translates to the coffee: which is prettier than any hot drink you will have seen before. Our favourite was the Matcha Tea Latte which is served a beautifully light shade of green. 

This spot is so pretty you'll find yourself wanting to spend the whole day there. No bookings, this is less than five minutes walk from Hackney Central Overground. 

www.palmvaults.com

411 Mare Street, Hackney, London E8 1HY

 

On The Bab

Craving fried chicken? This Korean eatery will hit the spot.

You'll find Korean food spot On The Bab on Old Street. They serve a mixture of tasty morsels from their modest kitchen which explains the queue outside the door. Bab, the Korean word for rice, is not the only option; there's a range of tasty meat filled steamed bao buns and sticky, spicy fried chicken on the menu.

This venue is only small with about eight small tables in total and a few seats at the bar. Sticking with Shoreditch tradition, On The Bab boasts the distressed look, with exposed brickwork and the menu is listed on a vintage peg board.  

This spot is definitely all about the food: arm yourself with some napkins and try the sweet and spicy Yangyum Korean fried chicken. Sticky, crispy and more-ish, the chicken comes topped with peanuts and served with shredded Korean cabbage. A trip to OTB isn't complete without sampling a couple of their bao buns. We love the soft shell crab and guac bun drizzled in garlic and chilli soy sauce. 

The Kun Mandu chicken dumplings and Gimari seaweed salad are also worth trying. This place is all about sharing, so get a group together and enjoy! 

www.onthebab.co.uk

305 Old St, London EC1V 9LA

 

Bleecker Street Burger

Head to Bleecker Street for one of the best burgers in town.

Located in Spitalfields Market, Bleecker Street couldn’t have picked a finer spot for their first permanent premises. This is a great area to head to for lunch, with a mix of people milling about on the hunt for food and lots of other stalls and stands to browse.

Bleecker Street Burger are all about the beef. Using rare-breed, pasture fed beef, they season their meat beautifully and serve all burgers medium rare. Keeping things simple, Bleecker Street serve their patties in a sesame seeded bun with onions, cheese and their burger sauce.  

A double cheeseburger clocks in at £9 and definitely makes for a filling lunch option. If you’re super hungry try the Double offer which comes with a side of fries too. Grab yourself a handful of napkins and take on a BS burger. Juicy, pink and surprisingly light you’ll feel like lunch is over too soon.

Get yourself down to Spitalfields and enjoy the bustle of the market with a Bleecker Street Burger in hand.

www.bleeckerburger.co.uk

Old Spitalfields Market, Unit B SP4 London E1 6EA
 

 

Granger & Co.

Head to Granger & Co. for a delicious, Aussie style brunch

Relaxed, unfussy and effortlessly cool - It all makes sense when you find out Granger & Co is the brainchild of Aussie Bill Granger. With great atmosphere and service, it's easy to while away a couple of hours here and kick back for a morning with a leisurely brunch.

The coffee here is great, but more importantly, start your day with a decent Bloody Mary. Opt for either the classic or the 'Clamato' juice version - clam and tomato juice - for subtle spice and depth of flavour.

If sweet things are your style, the ricotta hotcakes are a tempting stack; doughy, comforting and drizzled with honeycomb butter. Utterly delicious. If you fancy something savoury, the classic breakfasts are big platefuls here, with runny poached eggs, just ripe avocado and verdant piles of kale. True to Aussie style, there are also plenty of healthy options too, including smoothies, chia porridge and courgette fritters. The buckwheat bowl is a big bowl of bright greens, with rose harissa, goat's yoghurt, poached egg, avocado and sunflower sprouts. There are some interesting ingredients there, but it all comes together as a tasty and slightly more virtuous option.

Craving something sweet? Go for the pumpkin spiced brownie. Marbled with subtly spiced pumpkin and rich, rich chocolate, these are utterly divine. Best offset by a coffee, this is the perfect way to round off a brunch.

www.grangerandco.com

50 Sekforde St, London EC1R 0HA

 

8bit.

Fast food at its best in Melbourne's CBD.

Remember when you used to play video games in 8bit? Well now you can eat delicious fast food and pretend you're in one. In the heart of Melbourne's CBD lies 8bit - a fast food joint whose quality puts it above the rest. 8bit is a reminiscence to video games of days gone by. The interior is fun and playful with a bold blue and yellow colour scheme. On the walls you'll see 8bit artwork of your favourite Nintendo games. Even the tiles are pixelated. At the front of the store, you can get your 8bit fix while you wait with the old school Arcade Classics game machine.

The menu has all of the varieties of burgers and hot dogs you could ever want (and they are all named after old school video games, of course). Grab the 'Double Dragon' for double everything, the '1 Up Mushroom' for all of your veggie needs, or the 'After Burner' if you think chilli sauce and jalapeños should coexist. But sometimes you've just got to go for the classics. The '8bit with Cheese' comprises of a juicy beef patty with tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, mustard, cheese, ketchup and 8bit sauce all squeezed into a soft sesame seed bun. While the '8bit Dog' consists of a huge smoked frankfurter topped with grilled onions, pickle, relish, ketchup, mustard and spring onions. 

For those who say it isn't over until they've had dessert, don't you worry, salted caramel, peanut butter, and strawberry cheesecake milkshakes are available. And there's even a changing weekly chocolate bar milkshake.

Classic 8bit, classic food.

www.eat8bit.com.au

231 Swanston Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

 

Flat Iron Steak

Steak, chips and a butcher knife.

Along the famous Denmark Street, aka Tin Pan Alley, lies Flat Iron Steak. A lit-up sign reading 'Flat Iron at La Giacondo' is on display outside while the full-length glass window entrance displays what's going on inside. La Giacondo used to be a favourite hang out for the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols (to name a few), so you know that you're stepping into a venue with some rich musical history about it.

The interior features exposed brick walls, hanging vines entangled around the specials board while other green plants are scattered around the space and neon lighting reading 'steak is what you want'. And steak is what you get.

Upon being seated, you are given a cup of popcorn to nibble on while you peruse the menu. Daily specials normally include a burger and a wagyu bavette but who are you kidding, you came here for the £10 flat iron cut. The flat iron cut of steak is neatly sliced and presented on a wooden block, while the sides are served in enamel camping bowls. The steak is lightly seasoned and cooked to perfection with each slice tasting more juicier and flavoursome than the next. The creamed spinach is a must as well as the perfectly crunchy chips. Choose between bernaise, peppercorn, horseradish or fred's sauce (a spicy tomato salsa) to accompany your steak and you're good to go. 

It's all about that flat iron cut.

www.flatironsteak.co.uk

9 Denmark Street, London, WC2H 8LS

Oklava

Beautiful, bold sharing plates at Oklava.

An oklava is a traditional Turkish rolling pin used for breads and pastries and fittingly, this place has Turkish authenticity and flavour in abundance. Gorgeous plates of food are designed for sharing, so this is a great spot to come to with a few friends. You’ll find restaurant Oklava tucked away on a street corner between Old Street and Shoreditch High Street tube stations. Sleek but subtle in design, you can enjoy watching the chefs work their magic in front of the tables.  

Unless you’re a real foodie you might find yourself googling one or two of the items on the menu, but everything at Oklava is so delicious, it’s worth jumping straight in. Tear and share a Lahmacun, a traditional Turkish flatbread, topped with minced lamb. Almost like a pizza, this comes with a portion of salad: mint, cucumber, lemon, pickled cabbage, tomato and green olives. Decorate the Lahmacun with the salad, roll it up and enjoy. The Baharat spiced pork belly is another favourite at Oklava. Served with pickled apricots, garlicky cabbage and slices of leek, this mixture of textures and flavours is mind-blowingly good.  

Our final favourite is the chilli roast cauliflower which is topped with thin slices of red onion, finely crumbled pistachio and a handful of parsley. The red cauliflower makes for a beautiful looking plate of food and the complementary flavours make this incredibly moreish.

The service is Oklava is great and the staff are more than happy to talk you through the menu. They recommend two sharing plates per person and a few snacks if you’re super peckish. 

www.oklava.co.uk

74 Luke Street London EC2A 4PY

 

Virtuous Pie

Vegan pizza with nut-based cheese in Vancouver's Chinatown.

So you thought vegans couldn't eat pizza with cheese, you thought wrong. Situated in Vancouver's historic Chinatown, Virtuous Pie is pumping out a variety of plant-based pizzas all with cheese on top. Whether it's the line out of the door, the bright neon light or the window where you can see the chefs putting the finishing toppings on, you will be enticed in.

The interior is minimalist and simple with exposed bricks, wooden tables, marble counters and hanging light fixtures. Dotted around the space is an array of green plants, on shelves and in picture frames. Virtuous Pie claims to be fast-casual and that's exactly what it is. From when you order at the counter, take a seat, have a sip of your beer (33 Acres and Four Winds bottles are available), and have a deep and meaningful about cheese, you'll hear your name being called for you to collect your pizza. 

Virtuous Pie uses a number of nut-based cheeses; think cashew mozzarella and almond ricotta, which are delicious and lighter than your regular mozzarella, making the pizza at Virtuous Pie possibly the healthiest pizza ever. The classic Margherita hits the spot but it is the Ultraviolet with its walnut pesto, oven dried tomatoes, caramelised onion, kale and pine nuts that steals the show. 

The guys at Virtuous Pie also have a creamery where they make their own 100% plant-based ice cream. Try some of their unique flavours, some of which include Coffee and Donuts, Basil and Peach Jam, and Hawaiian Vanilla.

Embrace that plant life.

www.virtuouspie.com

583 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A 2V1

 

Honest Burger

Drool worthy burgers located across the capital.

The founders of Honest Burger met in 2010 when working at a restaurant and decided it was time to go solo. They bought a marquee, started selling burgers at festivals and that was the moment when Honest Burger was born. Since then, things have gone from strength to strength and there are now a huge 15 branches of HB across London. 

As their name suggests, simplicity and quality is the name of the game. They offer diners a choice of seven burgers which are all served with rosemary salted chips. They have a good selection of drinks on offer too: with the Botanic Garden cocktail (gin, apple, elderflower and lime) being our recommendation. There are a good choice of beers too, with every branch offering their own beer in collaboration with Beavertown Brewery.

With chicken, vegetarian and numerous beef options, it's hard to decide. That being said, the stand out choices have to be the chicken burger and the tribute beef burger. The chicken burger comes with lettuce, tomato and lashings of mustard mayo. The tribute, which definitely comes out on top, gives a generous beef patty topped with bacon, american cheese, burger sauce, french's mustard, pickles, onion and relish. Dripping with sauce and served pink in the middle it's hard not to salivate at the thought of a tribute burger. 

Honest Burger have a no bookings policy, so just turn up, get your order in and get stuck in to a high quality, mouth-wateringly good burger.


www.honestburgers.co.uk

251-255 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9NG

 

Homeslice Pizza

Delicious pizza from the good people at Homeslice

There’s no shortage of pizza places in Shoreditch, but Homeslice stands tall, head and shoulders above the rest. You’ll find their East London venue on Old Street and their other branches in Covent Garden and Fitzrovia.

Thanks to the small pizza logo hanging outside the restaurant, you can spot Homeslice a mile off. Kitted out with a beautiful tiled floor, low lighting and towers of pizza boxes, this is a pizza place with personality. The tables are decorated with bottles of chilli oil and listed on little clipboard menus are around ten pizzas to choose from. Three of these come by the slice and the others have to be ordered as a whole 20 inch pie. You’ve also got the option to go half and half with a friend on any two different pizzas. Homeslice make their own mark on the humble pizza with garlic oil and corn bases on a selection of their pizzas.

Grab a slice of their salami, rocket and parmesan for £4, seriously tasty and ample for lunch. These huge wedges of pizza are topped with round discs of salami, long parmesan shavings and handfuls of rocket. 

Homeslice serve stunning pizzas in a relaxed and friendly restaurant, it's somewhere we'll definitely be heading back to. 

www.homeslicepizza.co.uk

374-378 Old Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9LT