The Book Club

Food, drink, events and everything in between.

The Book Club is a former Victorian warehouse nestled between galleries and coffee shops on a Shoreditch side street. Ideal for coffee in the day, cocktails in the evening and ping pong at any hour; The Book Club is always busy with creatives, coffee lovers and cool East Londoners.   

TBC have an extensive list of unusual cocktails, including the ‘Beetroot’s Manuva’: a curious mix of tequila, beetroot juice, chilli agave, basil and chilli liqueur which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘health kick’. Try their ‘Gin Genie’ a cucumber-y homage to David Bowie. A cucumber, vinegar and sugar cordial is mixed with Hendricks gin, Lanique’s Rose liqueur and soda. Finished with a thin slice of cucumber and plenty of ice, this is a refreshingly tasty gin drink.

The food menu here is worth checking out too. The nachos come with a heavy recommendation and the weekend brunch menu will have you salivating with potato hash and huevous rancheros top of our list of choices.

More exciting than your typical Shoreditch stop off, The Book Club have mosaics, interesting artwork and wall plants dotted about the venue. A mix of seating on the top floor and a downstairs basement that’s used for speed dating, events, exhibitions and bingo – you’re likely to find whatever you’re looking for here. 

 

www.wearetbc.com

100-106 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4RH

 

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

 

Origin Coffee

Great set up and great coffee at Origin.

‘Blending science and senses’, Origin Coffee are serious and passionate about every stage of the sourcing, roasting and filtering process that gears towards your hot cup of coffee. There’s no disputing that the care and ethical approach adopted by the team at Origin makes their coffee taste that bit better and sets them apart from numerous other UK coffee shops.  

Interestingly, Origin offer both professional and enthusiast coffee courses in their in store training spaces. If you fancy trying your hand at latte art, you can get started in their Shoreditch store for £30. For a cool £600 you can get to the nitty-gritty of quality and flavour in their three day brewing professional course.  

It should come as no surprise that the team at Origin have numerous brewer, barista and coffee awards to their name; and sitting in their shop with a beautifully crafted coffee you can see why Origin are at the top of the coffee game.  

These guys have three shops in the capital, with one in Shoreditch, one in Hammersmith and one in the British Library. Stretching their wings beyond the confines of the M25, Origin also have two coffee shops in the South West of England, with one in Porthleven and one in Helston. If you love your coffee, this place is a must.

www.origincoffee.co.uk

65 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3PE
 

 

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

 

Aperture Coffee Bar

Cosy coffee bar on a bustling West Broadway. 

Nestled on a busy main road in Mount Pleasant, Aperture Coffee Bar manages to slow everything down. Exposed brick walls, higgledy-piggledy furniture and bookshelves more stacked than your local library, Aperture makes you feel right at home without actually being at home. Snuggle up on the sofa with your morning cuppa, get some work done at a high top or catch up with some friends on the big wooden tables.

Despite the plethora of roasters in the city, the guys at Aperture use Intelligentsia beans from Chicago and make a damn good cappuccino. After 4pm, it's Aperture Dessert Bar time which means you can eat all of the affogatos you want, in any flavour you want. With seven to choose from, including London fog, lemon, ginger, chai, mocha, matcha or classic espresso, you'll be coming back to try them all.

There is also a selection of breakfast and lunchtime sandwiches as well as sweet treats made by Olivia Wu (founder of Cannele & Honeybun Bakery). Make sure you try one of the cookies - these things melt in your mouth.

Aperture has one of the best loyalty schemes we've ever heard of. At the back of the café, there is a dartboard. Once you've filled up your coffee stamp card (ten coffees), you get three shots to win a prize. A polaroid of you is then added to the 'Winner's Wall' and you are entered into a championship match.

Get cosy at Aperture Coffee Bar and you'll never want to leave. 

www.aperturecoffeebar.com

243 West Broadway, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y 3L1

 

Greenwich Park

Views, wildlife and a little peace and quiet at London's Greenwich Park.

Being in one of the world’s busiest cities means peace, quiet and green space can seem hard to come by. Thankfully, among London’s tall buildings and jam packed roads, there are eight Royal parks to be enjoyed. Sitting below the curve of the river, Greenwich Park clocks in at 180 acres making it the largest green space in South East London.

On a hilltop, it’s definitely worth trekking to the top of the park and looking back only when you get there. The views stretch from the City of London over to the Isle of Dogs and on a clear day it’s easy to pick out smaller details across the skyline. As well as a great place to see the city, Greenwich Park is also home to the National Maritime Museum and the Greenwich meridian line, which sets the time across the world.

There’s more history to this park too, a former hunting ground for Henry VIII, the park is still home to a herd of deer. Then more recently, for the London 2012 Olympics, Greenwich Park became the venue for the equestrian events and riding and running for the modern pentathlon. There are boating lakes and tennis courts at the park, meaning there are several different ways to spend your time here.

If you’re fancying a quiet afternoon, wander through the park with an ice cream and enjoy the sweeping views of the city.

www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park

Greenwich Park, London, SE10 9NF

 

Banff Ave Brewing Co

Brewing beer in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

Tucked away on the second floor of a very Swiss looking building along Banff Ave stands a brewery churning out the best beer in town. Banff Ave. Brewing Co have been getting people merry since 2010. The three co-founders started their first brewery venture in 2005 in Jasper, when one of the guys got lucky and won the lottery. Suddenly, there were few limitations on making their brewery dream come true.

Head Brewer, Kent Boomer, was on hand to give us a tour of the place and teach us a thing or two about the brewing process. It all begins with barley, imported from Europe, which is roasted to turn it into malt. This malt is poured into the mill which feeds into the mashtun (a specialized brewing container). In the mashtun, malt is stirred into hot water with nothing other than a canoe paddle. Banff life. During the mashing process, enzymes in the malt converts starches into sugars creating wort. This wort is put into the boiling kettle and hops are added as need be. Next is the fermentation process where yeast is added to the wort and left for various days depending on what is being brewed. After this is complete, the yeast is extracted for future use. The yeast at the brewery leads a very Banff lifestyle... It parties like crazy for a week, sleeps for two days and then does it all over again. Sound familiar?! The beer is then put into a conditioning tank where it matures. From here, the beer is carbonated and ready to be served straight to the in-house taps, just 65 feet away. Now that’s fresh.

Enjoy a fruity Pond Hockey Pale Ale, hoppy Head Smashed IPA or, the local's favourite, Black Pilsner. Check out the community taps for some interesting collaborations and feel good knowing that $1 is donated to specific causes in the Bow Valley. You can even take some home with you in a growler or a pre-packaged bottle.

Oh and we should probably let you know... $4 pints on Mondays and $8 steins on Thursdays.

www.banffavebrewingco.ca

110 Banff Ave, Level 2, Banff, Alberta T1L 1A9

 

Grow

The perfect place for waterside beers.

There's no shortage of places to eat and drink near the water in Hackney Wick and Grow is no exception. If you're looking to admire the narrowboats, street art and various birds that meander down the Lea Navigation, this is the perfect place to do so. 

With a small selection of beers and homemade cakes, there's something charming and almost quaint about Grow. There are some seats inside, which is decorated in an eclectic manner, with bunting, plants, hanging plastic spheres and a large yellow hand.  

Grow have their own small street food van which cooks up the usual nibbles. Salads, wings, burgers and pulled pork plus some tasty chilli con carne nachos. Dotted around the outside area are plant pots with homegrown herbs and chilli plants, which are used in Grow's food and drinks. We enjoyed a few beers and some chilli nachos, which came with jalapeños and stringy cheese.

This place might sound like every other East London bar, but it has an organic and authentic feel that can't be faked. As with all waterside bars, this place gets busy as soon as the sun comes out - head down early to grab a seat and watch the narrow boats go by. 


www.growhackney.tumblr.com

Grow, Hackney, 98C Main Yard, Wallis Road, Hackney Wick E9 5LN