An invite to a restaurant called Ask for Janice is tempting enough. Throw in the magic words ‘bottomless brunch’ and not even Storm Doris could keep me away.
Bang opposite Smithfield Market, Ask for Janice (which, my friend and I discovered, is actually named after a Beastie Boys song) has been serving up delicious British tucker to a weekday crowd since 2014. Now, it’s applying the same culinary approach – fresh, locally sourced and seasonal food with a creative twist – to all-day Saturday brunches. And from what we saw, it’s proving a popular move; the restaurant was buzzing with a young and slightly hipster crowd. (I counted five pairs of black-rimmed glasses.)
We took our seats in the retro-styled interior, which mixes current trends for white-painted brick walls and bare light bulbs with real blasts from the past like Calor Gas stoves. The brunch menu reflects this mix, too, with bubble and squeak competing with the likes of quinoa fruit salad. (No contest, in my book.)
You can pick any three dishes as part of the brunch deal, all washed down with bottomless booze or soft drinks. Daytime drinkers can opt for Bucks Fizz, Bloody Mary or Salty Dog (that’s gin mixed with fresh grapefruit juice, for those who haven’t tried its surprisingly un-tart pleasures). The more abstemious can quaff freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice or a range of organic juices. And both options come with as much coffee or tea as your adrenal glands can handle.
With drinks taken care of, we set about sharing the six dishes we’d chosen. Bloody Mary baked beans on sourdough were rich and flavoursome, with a generous dollop of horseradish cream, while my friend’s spicy merguez sausages in baked egg were offset nicely by roasted peppers and cooling yoghurt. Smoked salmon hash with fried quail’s egg came next, with smooth, light flavours that were a great match for the salty coolness of my cucumber and feta on rye.
Finally, as if saving the best to last, our friendly waitress brought my bavette steak and my friend’s bubble and squeak – both of which were sublime.
After a last replenish of our glasses (it’d be rude not to), we left full of full of food, drink and praise for our new discovery. In fact, I’ve already arranged to go back with another friend next month – see you there for a brunch-off.
Ask for Janice, 50-52 Long Lane, Farringdon EC1 (020 7600 2255; askforjanice.co.uk)