26 Oct , 2017 Middle Eastern


Food writer Victoria Prever travelled to north east London for middle eastern food

The Good Egg is a medium-sized, all-day cafe/restaurant which has launched itself into the current Newish-Jewish trend with gusto was brought to life after a crowd-funder campaign. A loyal following of locals and serious foodies rave about the babka – which comes in seasonal variations currently Nutella (sigh).

The menu mixes kugel (parsnip and potato flavour served with smoked trout, creme fraiche and a poached egg) with shakshuka alongside a variety of Middle Eastern and Israeli-influenced dishes like aubergine pita and simple labneh topped with toasted pumpkin seed.

Brunch draws the crowds – yummies on week day mornings; local creatives at lunchtimes and well-heeled young professionals who have moved into the area in the evenings. Our friendly manager shared that property prices in the area have been amongst the most rapidly rising in London in recent years. Plenty of mouths to feed then.

In the evening, the menu fills out with a range of snacks (olives, spiced nuts, pickled aubergines and more); breads and sides to accompany the fish, vegetable and meat mains. They push the whole sharing plates concept, of which I’ve never really been a fan, but which I’ll tolerate if it means I can get my fork into more meals than just my own.

The menu isn’t for the indecisive. Not overly long, but packed with so many unusual flavours that my dinner guest and I fell upon the lovely restaurant manager for guidance. I was also borderline ‘hangry’ – never good.

A glass of Cava (refreshing not to be offered Prosecco for a change) and an appetiser later, the edge had worn off. Our plate of Makdoos – which was tiny tangy, oil cured aubergines – was a soft-centred flavour explosion.

It was closely followed by the cornbread we’d ordered – a ‘cakey’ slice partnered by with tiny pots of zhoug and of honey butter, and a bonus flatbread – hot, rolled and laden with thyme and honey. Both were good. The flatbread won hands down though.

Sweet, earthy salt-baked winter beets with whipped feta and tart pomegranate/honey dressing was pretty and felt like the sanctimonious option after all those carbs.

Hake in za’atar butter was a masterclass in fish cookery. Shiny white, tender flesh was a perfect foil for crunchy roast chickpeas and a sweet red pepper sauce.

With little room for pudding, it wasn’t a huge problem that the list was short. All paid tribute to the restaurant’s Middle Eastern/Jewish influences. Chocolate bark; New York cheesecake – the NY deli tribute – and two ice creams. We chose the smoothly creamy black sesame ice cream with crunchy sesame brittle. Sold.  Once that had been eaten, even if they’d walked up to me with one of their Nutella babka loaves and force fed me a hunk of it, I’d have fought back.

Entertainment came from both sides – the busy chef at the pass to our left, managing to serve up every plate pretty much single-handedly – and to our right, a group of young people who might have been called yuppies once upon a time cooing over their tiny poodle puppy.

The Good Egg totally lived up to its rep. Casually served flavours that will stay with you.

A version of this article previously appeared on The Fresser, the JC’s new food blog


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