Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bill’s (Holborn) and Jackson + Rye (Soho)

Last Sunday I went for brunch at Bill’s, and the Sunday before that, at Jackson + Rye, so it makes sense to talk about these two places together.

Jackson + Rye is brunch spot with heavy American influences in its decor, particularly that of the New York variety, all diner-style booths and a jukebox-type soundtrack blaring in the past. It boasts a fantastic range of egg dishes, of which I went with the salmon option, as well as offering macaroni cheese as a side dish, something that is a complete novelty to us Brits, who are used to having it as a free-standing meal. Seeing as I was there, I thought it would be rude not to, and indeed, was not disappointed. I'm of the belief that the more cheese, the better, and this side dish was all but drenched in it, and high quality cheese, too.

I went with my MSc lot, three of whom had the eggs with avocado, which was very well received by them. On my end, I adored the salmon, and welcomed it as a healthy alternative to the English fry-ups I usually have for brunch on a Sunday. The macaroni and cheese was wonderfully moreish, unashamedly dripping with carbs and made even better when I added a generous helping of salt. For dessert, I had continued with cheese, devouring a cheesecake of sorts, which came with its own berry sauce. It was artfully decorated and went down a treat, if being a little wanting on the portion-for-price ratio.

Overall, Jackson + Rye operated like an upmarket, slightly more high end version of TGI Friday’s. The few downsides were that we went at a very busy time, and thus, found it difficult to get the waiters’ attention, as well as the fact that they helped themselves to a 12.5% optional tip. Now, it says optional, so we didn’t pay it, but then, when we left, the waiters called us back in because apparently our bill didn’t add up. On a second glance, they realised that it did - we had paid for our food, just declined to pay the 12.5% gratuity because we didn’t feel they earned it. It was all a bit awkward, but I’m firmly of the belief that you should let people choose whether or not they want to tip you. That this place gave themselves a tip, and then passive aggressively chastised us for not paying it, means I am reluctant to recommend it effusively, despite how yummy the food was.

Bill’s boasted an altogether different palate of food: European dishes, as well as the hearty full English, and it was this that I had for brunch last Sunday. I loved it. Like my macaroni cheese at J+R, it was dripping full of carbs, and all the better for it, and the streaky bacon was done exactly how I like it (I’m picky when it comes to bacon). To balance out the salt intake, I had some sugar intake in the form of my first ice cream soda float and it was revelatory! Such was my noobishness when it came to this drink, that I didn’t clock that I was supposed to drink it as soon as the straw went in, meaning a substantial amount of it fell onto the table, but the waiters were switched on and instantly cleaned up for me, no reproach at all.

The upside down cheesecake dessert, whilst expertly packaged in a dinky clear jar and lid, had its proportions of textures a little jumbled up - I would have fancied more cream, and less biscuit, but it seems churlish to let that mar what was otherwise a thoroughly recommendable brunch spot, which will now be forever remembered fondly as the place where I had my first ice cream float.

Jackson + Rye: B-
Bill’s: A-

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