Review: Brother Marcus, Balham

Out Of Office Magazine reviews Brother Marcus, a cool cafe bar in Balham offering up tasty brunches, small plates, coffees and cocktails 
 
In the south of metropolis London, we find quaint brunch, lunch and cocktail café Brother Marcus. Located in Balham it’s just a short walk from the station and easily identifiable with the chalkboard black exterior and white stamped name.

Upon entering you are immediately submerged into a rustic warehouse feel.  You may switch off at this moment as, like us, you may agree that this style is often overused at present in many coffee shops.  But, bear with me…

Unlike many chains, Brother Marcus has created an authentic rustic feel. Each piece of furniture appears to have been hand selected by the brothers to outfit their small enterprise and it’s not one bit pretentious.

Greeted by the smiling waitress we were shown to our table. To start, a soy latte and the highly recommended cappuccino. Proper Italian coffee served at a just hot enough temperature, so all notes of bitterness are avoided.

For the main courses we chose the Sister Special and a Marcus Breakfast. The former, a delightful combination of crispy bacon and perfectly poached eggs with spinach, watercress and avocado ‒ all served on a slice of toast. The latter, pork belly crispy and tender in all the right places with a small side of greens, served on a pitta.

After eating, we were relayed the story of how they started ‒ two brothers (aptly enough) came together to provide a space for the young and old to drink good coffee, eat tasty food and chat.  A quick tour of the place shows that they have plans with a good sized outdoor area as well.

What? A casual coffee shop selling great coffee and well crafted food in South London.

Why choose Brother Marcus? Perfect for a catch-up or low intensity meeting with a client or supplier, or for a small team meal. Keep an eye out for special events in their garden during the summer!

Cost: £

 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA

info@brothermarcus.co.uk

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Bar + Block Steakhouse, King’s Cross London

Out Of Office Magazine visited Bar + Block in King’s Cross London to sample their steaks and was blown away by the quality of the cuts of meat and customer service

Since King’s Cross’ substantial redevelopment it’s certainly not short of great places to eat and drink. Once an industrial wasteland, it’s now a  busy setting with plenty to see and do.

One of the restaurants we’d recommend is Bar + Block Steakhouse on York Way, a short walk from King’s Cross St Pancras station.

All of the beef comes from cattle reared across the Pampas in South America and is aged for a minimum of 28 days and hand-cut, which means you can have your steak the size you like it.

We opted for a 10oz sirloin and fillet, and shared the sweet potato fries with chorizo, feta and coriander (as well as the beef dripping chunky chips which come as standard!). The chimichurri sauce on the side was a good spicy accompaniment recommended by our friendly, helpful and knowledgeable waiter.

The beef was tender and cooked to perfection (rare for the fillet, medium-rare for the sirloin), and we washed it down with a full bodied bottle of Beefsteak Malbec.

Somehow we found room for dessert. We had the sticky toffee pudding and triple chocolate brownie, which were both delicious and rich. Plus a little extra treat for my guest as the waiter found out it was his birthday and had all the staff sing!

What? A lively restaurant offering a great steakhouse experience. Don’t be fooled though, they also offer up roasts with all the trimmings on Sundays, steak and eggs for breakfast and some tasty fish dishes for lunch and dinner.

Why Choose Bar + Block? If you like steak, a combination of bold flavours and great service – go here.

Cost: ££

26-30 York Way, London, N1 9AA

020 3889 8888

http://www.barandblock.co.uk

Review: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

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Out Of Office Magazine visits the newly opened Balans Soho Society café at Seven Dials

This recently opened venue on Monmouth Street is the sixth location in the Balans family and modelled on the Soho café style. It’s simple, sleek, bistro style is clean and cosy – much like our seat specially reserved for us in the corner of the restaurant.

Also like our visit to the Kensington restaurant, the staff were friendly, attentive and well-informed about the variety of food and drink on offer. We also learnt that, like the Kensington restaurant, a staff member had left for an adventure and landed back at Balans a few years later – it seems they are a good employer with employees only enthusiastic to return.

We started with the seared scallops – perfectly cooked but a small portion that left you wanting a little more – plus the lamb pastilla, which was filling and tender. For our mains, we opted for the 10 oz sirloin steak cooked medium rare and the Cornish crab linguine that certainly didn’t skimp on the chilli!

Too full for dessert we stayed for another glass of malbec and merlot, happy in our surroundings. While we relaxed, a waiter dropped a full tray of glasses but the staff took it in their stride with a smile. (Very unlucky considering they had just opened!)

What? A great addition to the Balans Soho Society collection. Close to Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.

Why choose Balans? Nice for for a planned brunch, lunch or dinner out, or a spur of the moment occasion. The menu is varied with international influences and changes regularly.

Cost: ££

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9HA

020 7836 2982

www.balans.co.uk

Review: Del’Aziz, Bermondsey

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Out Of Office reviews Del’Aziz, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant located in Bermondsey Square 

We were invited to sample Del’Aziz, located between Bermondsey and Southwark stations, following a refurbishment. The décor is stylishly Mediterranean, with plenty of Turkish-style lanterns, leather seats and wooden furniture.

We were surprised to find the restaurant, deli and bar so quiet on a Saturday evening but it is a large establishment to fill, plus it meant our waiter was extra attentive. Each branch of Del’Aziz also hosts belly dancing, live jazz and world music on a weekly basis (check the calendar), with these events attracting a good number of attendees.

On to the food… We started off with a vegetarian mezze platter featuring all the Med favourites like hummus, tzatziki and dolma. For the mains, we opted for the sea bass and the  lobster feast (£20 deal: whole lobster, or half with BBQ ribs, harissa wings, grilled chicken or gambas). For dessert we sampled a cake from the deli.

The highlight of the meal was certainly the starter – there is a lot on offer here, which is great for those not keen on Med food but we think it’s what they do best.

What? A Mediterranean bar and restaurant in a number of locations, including Bermondsey, Swiss Cottage and Clapham.

Why choose Del’Aziz? We’d recommend booking an entertainment night, ordering cocktails and mezze, and bringing your staff along for a end of quarter party. Also good for leisurely drinks and informal birthday celebrations.

Cost: ££

11 Bermondsey Square, London, SE1 3UN
020 7407 2991 / bermondsey@delaziz.co.uk
www.delaziz.co.uk

Review: Brasserie Blanc, Bath

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Out Of Office visits Brasserie Blanc, a brasserie set in a Georgian building serving a classically French menu devised by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc

We kicked off our leisurely lunch at Brasserie Blanc in historic Bath by bagging a window seat, the perfect spot for people watching from the corner of pretty Queen’s Square where the restaurant is situated.

From the very beginning of our lunch the service was top notch – the staff were polite and courteous and nothing was too much trouble.

To start we opted for the mediterranean fish soup with the garlic and saffron rouille, croutons and grated cheese. It was a large portion; incredibly rich yet moreish and set the standard for the rest of the meal.

For mains the boeuf bourguignon came highly recommended and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The beef was tender and was accompanied by a deliciously smooth mash and red wine sauce. The duck with blackberry sauce with dauphinoise potato was also utter perfection – the meat was rich and crispy on the outside.

To finish we chose the caramel soufflé with rum and raisin ice cream. The dish took 15 minutes to prepare but worth the wait. The trio of chocolate desserts from the Valentines set menu were also divine – and very generous, as are all the beautifully prepared desserts.

What? This is authentic French food at its best. Decent prices, a welcoming décor and fantastic service make it a top chain restaurant.

Why choose Brasserie Blanc? The smart and modern restaurant with warm and welcoming staff is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Cost: ££

6-12 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HH
01225 303860
www.brasserieblanc.com