Niche, EC1R

When we had this Brunch Club gathering on Sunday 25th November 2018, it ended up being a ‘mini’ version as our beloved Eleanor was sadly unwell and couldn’t join us. In the past we have decided not to review places when we don’t have all four brunch clubbers in attendance, but we have decided to amend this and make the decisions on reviewing as we go along. So, this review of Niche, 197-199 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TJ is brought to you by Lori (who was excited about their entirely gluten free menu), Lou and Ed.

INITIAL BEVERAGES

LORI: I broke with tradition and had a black Americano… plus my usual orange juice.
LOU: I had juice and a cup of tea. It was a large cup of tea. But it was a cup. With a bag in it. On a saucer that didn’t seem to fit the cup. So I ended up fishing out the bag and leaving it on the saucer, which shouldn’t be a bad thing but at £2.50 a cup, seemed to be worthy of a pot at least. Well, I ended up having two cups and wishing I hadn’t.
ED: I had a tea as usual, but reflecting Lou’s apprehensions, it was a mug with a bag in, not a pot. It was fine.

Ed’s eggs florentine (on a gluten free muffin) at Niche

WHAT WE HAD

LORI: As soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew I needed to have the Niche breakfast burger. It has a sizeable firm pork sausage patty and streaky bacon, topped with a fried egg and Smoked Applewood cheese in a toasted sesame bun. Despite the structural integrity of the bun (something that is rare in gluten free bread products), I had to abandon eating it with my hands as this delicious stack of ingredients was just too tall to fit in my mouth! The runny yellow egg yolk oozed onto the bun and the burger, and there was a nice tomato relish under the burger too, so it was all lovely and moist to the last bite. We got our ‘brunch pudding’ from the dessert menu, and I went for the hot berry crumble. Very tasty indeed but the vegan custard was a bit disappointing (I was expecting something rich and creamy like the Alpro one, but this was rather watery).
LOU: I also had the breakfast bun and the pork patty was so tasty – juice, well seasoned and surprisingly thick. For pudding I chose the white chocolate and peanut butter blondie which came with ice cream. The blondie was incredibly sweet and oddly claggy (although this could have been the peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth), but the ice cream was a lovely deep vanilla that I really enjoyed.
ED: I had the Eggs Florentine, it was very nice indeed which a good strong hollandaise sauce. The gluten free muffins were exactly as muffins usually taste and it all looked very nice too. For dessert I had the Ecclefechan tart, expecting it to be a sort of big mince pie sort of thing, this was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. There was a very hard and almost inedible pastry casing, the cake inside was very bland indeed.

Lori was clearly excited about the (gluten free!) Niche breakfast burger

WHAT DID WE CHAT ABOUT?

LORI: Missing our brunch pal Eleanor (due to illness), the Midlands, small home towns and their declining lack of job opportunities.
LOU: Growing up in a village, turning visions into reality, and parish council newsletters
ED: Village life and growing up within a small gossipy world (and escaping to the city…!)

SERVICE, ATMOSPHERE, TOILET STANDARDS/QUIRKS

LORI: We arrived at the time Niche opened, so the wait staff took a little while to take our orders as they were still getting organised. Once we ordered though, everything arrived pretty quickly despite it getting busy (the restaurant was full by the time we left). It’s a small place, so the atmosphere is cosy and friendly, but I did feel sorry for the people who were sat on the table by the toilet – it’s a single cubicle so the door opens right onto the loo!
LOU: As Lori said, Niche were slow to get going, but friendly and the food did come quickly. The toilet is step free but didn’t appear to have any hand rails or assisting gear for folks with mobility problems and I wasn’t sure a chair could turn in the loo either.
ED: It was a nice very local feeling sort of place. Service was fine and managed to keep an eye on us adequately as the place got busier with families. As Lori mentioned the toilet did open right out into the restaurant so I had a little paranoia about forgetting to lock the door!

Ed’s gluten free Ecclefechan tart

POST-BRUNCH PLANS

LORI: I headed to Camden for a relaxed afternoon with a pretty redhead and her delightfully fluffy little dog.
LOU: I ran parcel collection errands in the West End and Greenwich – ah the pre Christmas rush!
ED: I went straight home as I was on the verge of a cold, sadly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

LORI: Despite a relatively small brunch menu, Niche had all the bread-based brunch basics covered so that anyone who normally has to miss out on burgers and muffins due to dietary requirements can indulge. An excellent gluten-free brunch spot with VERY tasty burgers.
LOU: I was impressed by the quality and range of options – including vegan choices – and the place is clearly popular but if you aren’t in the area it feels a bit out of the way to travel for?
ED: The choices were really good for gluten free folk, but it’s more of a local brunch sort of place, not a destination brunch. If you lived nearby or were planning to go to Sadler’s Wells for something, definitely stop in.

The image at the top of this post is via the Niche website. All other images were snapped by Brunch Club members on their phones, so excuse any blurriness as we were all rather excited about eating the food.