Eastway, one of seven bars and restaurants ran by East London hotel caterer Andaz Dining, intrigued me from the very second I looked it up online. The thought of visiting a New York style brasserie made me feel one step closer to my lifelong dream of visiting the Big Apple; a trip my family and I have been debating for long enough to make me wonder if vague plans and intentions will ever translate into action. I’ve yet to discover what a real New York brasserie looks or feels like, but if Eastway’s atmosphere and menu are anything to go by, I have little doubt I would enjoy the experience.
The first thing to strike me about Eastway’s dining room was its quiet; the signature mood of the City on a Sunday afternoon, not unusual, but always hard to get used to. Our table occupied a cosy, bright spot near a window overlooking Liverpool Street; no doubt a fascinating observatory on weekdays, when the City buzzes with liveliness and life. On the dark side of the room, at the opposite end, stood a bar counter with a well stocked spirits shelf, and what soon became my personal bruncher’s heaven: a long table packed with complimentary fresh pastries and homemade bread, still warm from the oven, abundant complements to Eastway’s brunches. These are available until 4pm on weekends; an ideal timing for those like me, who can’t bear eating savoury food until the early afternoon, and for those who’d eat anything in the morning, but can’t bear waking up before noon.
Eastway’s brunch menu combines standard breakfast fare and lunch mains with creative variations on classic recipes. Eggs Benedict, Florentine and Royale are listed alongside more exotic versions: Mexican inspired Eggs Sanchez (with chorizo and guacamole) and the Indian twist of Eggs on Brick Lane (with curried potatoes, chutney and a dosa pancake). Dishes based on British asparagus and the evergreen smoked salmon coexist with Beef ceviche and Mediterranean Merguez sausages. Narrowing down our choices to a shortlist of three dishes to share was a hard task, but a necessary one for the feast to begin; a feast of new flavours, marking my first encounter with more than one Anglo-American favourite.
My first plate of poached eggs set my brunch off to a good start. The look of my Eggs Royale (two egg halves on thin muffins, minuscule in their massive white plate, like the figure of a little girl playing with her mother’s oversized skirts) worried me for a second, but the taste test immediately reassured me. Even the hollandaise sauce, which I usually find sickeningly buttery, had a delicate flavour that pleased my palate. I scooped it up with a piece of English muffin; the indulgent British equivalent of scooping up Bolognese sauce with a morcel of crusty bread.
My first plate of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup was my highlight of the day. The pancakes were thick and soft, unlike anything I’ve ever had or made at home; the sweet and savoury pairing, one I never thought I’d ever have the guts to try, wowed me in the most unexpected way. The icing sugar sprinkled on top was a mild case of overkill, but that may be just down to my taste (and you know me, I’m not one to say no to sugar, anyway).
My first taste of Marmite went down surprisingly well. Concealed in the spicy glaze of a confit chicken main, it carried a strong, bitter flavour, followed by a pleasantly smoky aftertaste. A nice pairing with the tender, juicy chicken, and especially with its skin. If your mum taught you to scrape off the skin before eating your chicken, I urge you to forget your upbringing for the time of your meal; you won’t regret it, I promise.
My first breakfast smoothie (a mix of berries, honey and skimmed milk) accompanied me throughout my meal, refreshing at first, slightly overwhelming in the long run; the side effect of being a slow drinker, and continuing to sip on it long after finishing my chicken. As a breakfast drink, I’d have it again any time, perhaps choosing yoghurt over milk. I’m not sure I could brave making my own Bloody Mary so early in the day, but if you’re that kind of bruncher, you’ll be glad to hear that the self-serve counter offers a wealth of poisons for you to experiment with.
Eastway would be a gem if it weren’t for its prices: while the quality of ingredients deserves praise, price tags are disproportionate to the tiny portions most dishes come in. It’s hard to justify spending £15 for one (!) chicken leg with one small waffle and three (!!) cherry tomatoes on the side, and paying £5 for a tiny glass of smoothie doesn’t feel right either. That isn’t to say I’m shocked, or even mildly surprised; I’d be a fool to forget that Eastway lives in the middle of the City, with its population of shiny suits with amplified spending power. If you’re a City dweller, a salesperson wanting to entertain a business contact, or an executive mixing duty with pleasure on a work meal, you’ll love Eastway; if you’re an average office worker with a wallet smaller than your stomach, you’ll lust at it from afar, scouring your calendar for the next occasion that calls for a special treat. I hope you find it, for Eastway’s brunch is worth trying at least once.
Eastway at Andaz
40 Liverpool Street
London, EC2M 7QN
(nearest tube station: Liverpool Street)
Open 6.30am – 11pm Monday to Friday, 10am – 11pm Saturday and Sunday
0207 618 7123http://www.andazdining.com/eastway/default-en.html
Note: Zomato invited me to visit Eastway, and contributed to the cost of my meal. All opinions are my own.