The Good Egg (£)
93 Church Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0AS
Kingly Court, London W1B 5PW
Summary: The Good Egg has a solid following in its home area of Stokey, and rightly so – the Jewish-inspired food is delicious, thoughtful, and innovative, and they serve excellent coffee. It’s also great that they serve brunch until 3pm every day. Some items on the bakery menu are steeply priced, but overall the dishes are good value for the quality and portion size. One of my favourite brunch places, and the Carnaby Street branch is a welcome opening! Verdict: 9/10
Value for money: 8/10
Recommended dishes (from those tried): The Sabih; the Cornbread French toast. The coffee is also excellent.
Practical details: Brunch is served daily at both Stokey and Carnaby Street until 3pm (3.30pm at Stokey). Lunch is only served at Carnaby Street from 12-3pm daily. Dinner is served at both branches from 6-10pm (10.30pm at Carnaby Street, and the Stokey branch doesn’t serve dinner on Monday).
The Carnaby Street (Kingly Court) branch takes reservations for brunch, lunch and dinner. Stokey is first come, first served for brunch.
Although this is a Jewish-style restaurant, the food is not kosher or halal.
Approximate price per person for brunch: £20 (including a main/2-3 small plates, a coffee, and a baked goody)
Tired, hungry and a little irritated, I arrived at the door of The Good Egg in Stokey a bit like Joseph looking for shelter in Bethlehem. It was a gamble: it was Saturday, and queues were likely, but my first choice firmly closed their kitchen at 3pm and I was a little stranded. I walked in – and was seated in the garden a minute later (it was not sub-zero outside). A very auspicious start.
I had heard about The Good Egg for a while, and the queues, and the food, and dismissed it all as hype. Yet I was curious, and here I was, unexpectedly but rather fortuitously, menu in front of me. I ordered a coffee (£2.60 for a latte) – a very good one, as it turns out, the coffee is from Volcano Coffee Works – and considered the menu.
The vibe of the Stokey branch and Carnaby Street branch are totally different. The former is suitably hipsterish, with a sort of casual, local neighbourhood feel. The latter is sleeker and smarter, still relaxing but more appropriate to the central London area it inhabits. I liked both, mainly because both were comfortable, the service was friendly and attentive in both places, and there was no rush to be moved.
In both locations, the open kitchen is a hive of activity, and you can watch the chefs in action. This is improved in the Soho (Carnaby Street) branch where the kitchen is significantly larger than Stokey’s, so the kitchen stretches along the length of the back wall, like a cooking theatre.
The brunch menu consists of a ‘small plates’ section, where you can order a number to share or make into one main dish; the dishes include dips like house labneh with lemon and chilli, whipped green feta, and beets and dill (all £4-£4.50). They have also just introduced a ‘Jerusalem Plate‘ (£12) which has smaller portions of a number of the small plates in one dish (I tried this at Carnaby Street, see below for more).
You can also choose from a number of main dishes, including a number of sandwiches and brunch mains (like Shakshuka).
On that mild day in Stokey, I ordered the Sabih, which I later found out is a Good Egg classic: an Iraqi aubergine pita with soft boiled eggs, tahini, mango amba (pickle), dad day (Middle Eastern-style salad), pickles and zhoug (a Yemeni herb and chilli paste). I wasn’t sure how sure satisfying a sandwich would be, but for £9 expectations were reasonably high. It arrived…
It was frickin’ amazing.
The eggs were perfectly soft boiled, and became part of a kaleidoscope of flavours with tangy dak dak, creamy tahini, sharp mango pickle, and refreshing zhoug (although the version my mother makes at home is better – it’s very similar to Pakistani green chutney which has green chilli for added fire). The hero for me, though, was the brilliant aubergine, which was salty and crisp, and left a fantastic collection of juices soaked into the bottom of the pita. This left my fingers a slightly soggy mess when I arrived at it, but it didn’t matter because I was licking my fingers anyway as I demolished the whole thing.
I have daydreamed about this sandwich a number of times since I ate it. I have gotten into salting and frying aubergines to try and recreate this at home, that’s how much I loved it. The Sabih was what made me fall in love with brunch at The Good Egg and want to come back.
I am very glad my first choice was closed that day.
After that, of course I was going to come back. At Carnaby Street, I went for the soft launch and tried the Jerusalem Plate, which had mini versions of the house labneh, whipped green feta, beets and dill, marinated aubergine with tahini, dak dak, crisp fried halloumi with honey and zaatar, two fried eggs, and a fresh pita.
Honest opinion? It was decent, good but not memorable, although I liked a lot of it. I enjoyed the halloumi, and liked the balance of the salty cheese with the honey drizzled on top…
The aubergine was also tasty, and I liked scooping up the tahini with my fresh, soft pita.
The egg yolks were gloriously golden and dippable, another one for the pita…
For me, the flavours of the ‘dips’ were too mild and needed a bit more punch: the chilli and lemon was a welcome addition to the labneh; the whipped feta was not salty enough for me, and the beets and dill were nice and sweet but I wanted some zesty tang as well, some lemon, perhaps.
But…then I tried the cornbread French toast with pumpkin curd, poached cranberries, sour cream and pecan brittle (£8). When it arrived, I thought it looked a little small: a slab of cake-like bread topped with an assortment of things…
It was amazing. I didn’t stop until I finished the whole thing because it was so. Dang. Good.
The French toast itself is dense, not very eggy, more cake-like than bread-like, but has a wonderful grainy texture due to it being cornbread. The combination of that with the creamy, cool sour cream, the sweet and tangy cranberries, the mild pumpkin and the brilliantly crunchy pecan brittle was just delicious. I loved it. Actually, writing about it and looking at the photos makes me want it again right now.
The baked goods…
The Good Egg is known for its famous babka. Babka is a traditional Eastern European and Jewish pastry cake, like a brioche-meets-cake. It is traditionally swirled with chocolate or cinnamon, and whereas in the US it is widely available, it is not as ubiquitous here. The Good Egg has stepped into that babka vacuum and bakes them fresh every day, available for purchase by the slice (£4) or as a whole (£32, and you need to pre-order). £4 is steep for a slice of rich bread-cake, but the slices are thick and filling. Flavours vary on the day, but when I visited they had pistachio, date, and chocolate. I picked some up to take home.
I loved the date one the most, but the chocolate was a close second. The pistachio was well received at home. My tip is to make French toast with babka, it turns out really well.
The cardamom and almond morning buns are also very popular. I personally find them too expensive at £3.25, as are the bagels (£3.50 each!), which I also wasn’t very impressed by. For me, the bakery overall is over-priced and I was a little confused by why the prices for some items are so high.
…was very good in both locations. The Stokey branch is more laid back and relaxed, but even in Soho (Carnaby Street) the manager let me stay at my table for far longer than my 1.5 hour booking slot as it wasn’t needed straight after, which was great. There are benches in the Soho restaurant with little laptop rests if you want to perch with a coffee and catch up on emails etc.
The staff are friendly and helpful in both locations.
Th Good Egg really is the good egg (pun gleefully employed). I love the food for its quality, and the thoughtful and varied menu. For a cuisine which has been hijacked and copied on a mass scale on brunch menus up and down the country, the Good Egg has done a great job at being creative and setting itself apart from its rivals. Bakery pricing aside, this is fairly good value for the quality of the food, and I expect the Carnaby Street to be busy busy busy as this great food is now in easier reach than before (we all know Stokey is a bit of a trek).