REVIEW: Sawyer & Gray, Islington
WHAT? An infinitely Instagrammable brunch spot seconds from Highbury & Islington overground. Sawyer & Gray serves only fresh, homemade produce in achingly chic surroundings – think whitewashed floorboards and cosy hideyholes peppered with vintage bicycles, typewriters and birdcages.
We popped in for Saturday brunch to find the place brimming with locals, ducking in to choose from the extensive coffee menu or catch up over homemade granola and bircher muesli. Seated in the basement, we were slightly disappointed, so charming was the buzz as customers wandered in and out and light flooded in through the glass window.
Downstairs, though, you’ll find an open kitchen with smiling staff – including owner Darren, also responsible for the beautiful decor. It’s a beautiful use of an unusual space, crammed with intimate nooks and crannies.
The weekend brunch menu starts with homemade pastries, taking in saintly options including ‘Super Bowls’ of porridge with oats, hemp and chia seeds, coconut flakes, toasted almonds, fresh apple and salted caramel (£6.50).
At £9.50 we plumped for golden sweetcorn fritters with poached eggs, sweet chilli jam, crumbled feta, avocado, fresh spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes and pesto (a veg dish, but of course, we added bacon for £2) – a colourful dish that could banish any sore head.
Stand-out was the ‘Sawyer’s Brunch’ (always a good sign if you’re unsure what to choose) – two eggs, poached or scrambled with bacon, avocado, feta, dukkah, black sesame, roast cherry tomatoes, rocket and spinach (£9.50).
Coffee fiends will be cheered to find a House Blend and Guest Blend on rotation (it’s about time caffeine got the same treatment as fine wine). We enjoyed an excellent flat white by Broadway Market favourite Climpson & Sons.
The collection of freshly made baked goods are impossible to ignore on your way out – giant croissants, raspberry and polenta cake and huge flapjack squares compete for your attention as wonderfully friendly owner Marco blows you kisses out the door.
We couldn’t leave without sampling the walnut-topped chocolate brownie – soft and chewy, it was the ideal finish to a thoroughly pleasant morning. We’ll be back for the Brioche French Toast, no doubt.
WHERE? Seconds from Highbury & Islington overground, Sawyer & Gray is well placed for a wander around Islington’s beautiful shop fronts or a stroll around Highbury Fields.
DETAILS: 290 ST PAULS RD ISLINGTON N1 2LH / EMAIL: INFO@SAWYERANDGRAY.CO.UK / TEL: 0203 4175950 / Sawyerandgray.co.uk