March kept me pretty busy at work and it's also not the best time of year for great new cinema releases. However, I did manage to find a few diversions.
Brunch at Pedler
Ever since my first visit to Pedler — an all-day neighbourhood restaurant on Peckham Rye — I have been dying to try their brunch. When my fellow brunch-loving friend from Sydney came to visit, Pedler was the obvious choice. There were all sorts of tempting dishes on the menu, but we both went for the Pedler breakfast (£9): eggs, Little Bird Gin sausage, bacon, home-made baked beans, bone marrow, rosti, toast and maple salted butter. It was all delicious, but the sausage and the maple butter were particular stand-outs. And this being Pedler, we had to cocktail up; I had one of the Maltby Marys (a red snapper-like drink; £6), which did the trick very nicely.
Old Spike Roastery
I spotted a new coffee bar and roastery a couple of doors down from Pedler on Peckham Rye. Old Spike Roastery has only been open for a couple of weeks and when I visited, they hadn't quite started offering hand-brewed filter coffees (and I was the first person to ask, they said), but hopefully those menu additions will now be in place. In the meantime, I tried the macchiato, which was pretty good. The décor of the cafe is straight of independent-coffee-bar central casting, but that's no bad thing. The space is airy and there are a few seats at the window. If you need another reason to visit, Old Spike also provides jobs and training to people who are homeless. There isn't a website yet, but follow them on Twitter here.
I've been visiting Workshop's various London locations for years now, but I was worried that their Marylebone branch on Wigmore Street, which used to be my local, had disappeared. Happily, they have just relocated — about as close to the previous location as they could find, the barista told me. Their new digs are on Barrett Street inside St Christopher's Place. The new cafe is a bit bigger and gets a lot more natural light (i.e. any). Better still, the Aeropress-brewed coffee is still among the best in London and their beautiful powder-blue espresso machine still sits grandly on the counter.
The List by Karin Tanabe
I saw a copy of Karin Tanabe's novel — which offers an account of what it's like to work for a POLITICO-like organisation, from a former POLITICO style reporter — in Kramerbooks when I was in DC, but didn't buy it as I was travelling light. Now that I have finally read it, I can report that it was great fun. As I work in the media industry, I always love insider's takes on media organisations, and Tanabe's portrayal of The Capitolist doesn't exactly sell the employee benefits of working there. Her protagonist Adrienne gives up a lucrative job at a glossy magazine in New York and takes a pay cut to work on the style desk at The Capitolist, only the crazy hours, lack of prospects of promotion and the fact that she has to move back in with her parents because she can't afford to rent in the city are far from ideal. Then, she stumbles on an affair between a co-worker and a senator and suddenly, everything changes.
The List is rather frothy, but well written and Adrienne is a sympathetic protagonist. Plus, I liked spotting all the DC locations I visited recently, including a rendezvous at Oyamel.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I know I have already produced a detailed review of Yanagihara's epic, tragic musing on love, life and pain, but I did spend much of March either reading the 700-pager or thinking about it. Yes, it's often sad, but yes, you should read it.