Shakshuka. Something I didn’t even know existed until a year ago when I ventured to NOPI, one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants for brunch and wanted to order something completely different, something he was well known for. It was seriously amazing. Since then, I always keep a eye out for it on the menu if we’re out for brunch.
Recently Alex decided he was treating me to a brunch as a celebration for getting my new job (brownie points??), and so off we ventured all of a 5 minute walk to Chez Bob. Can you believe we’d never been before when it’s so close? With Shakshuka on the menu, I knew it was going to be a great start to the day.
Chez Bob is a little French restaurant in Belsize Park, with only one other sister restaurant in Whetstone. A contemporary feel throughout, it’s got a cute little outdoor seating area, with black metal tables and chairs, and blankets, all under its awning. The first time this year we felt able to enjoy a meal outside without getting frostbite, we took the opportunity to enjoy the morning sunshine, even though it was still a little chilly – we noticed the blankets a little late!
Coffee ordered first – think priorities – my flat white arrived creamy, yet slightly frothy, and had a nice smooth taste. Alex accompanied his coffee with a Bob’s Rise smoothie, a combination of strawberry banana and orange, which was fresh, sweet and refreshing.
I knew what I was having without any deliberation, whilst Alex was struggling with an internal battle of whether to get pancakes like pretty much always, or the Eggs Royale, through his love of smoked salmon. The pancakes won the battle, arriving with slices of banana, plenty of blueberry sauce and a side of crispy bacon.
The pancakes themselves, were sweet and fluffy American style, and the blueberry sauce was seriously delicious! Although we have pancakes almost every weekend, Alex said these stood out! The blueberry sauce won him over!
My Red Shakshuka, a rich slow roast tomato and pepper stew, with grated feta, baked eggs and parsley, was served with lightly toasted dark sourdough for dipping.
With intense flavours, the feta and yolk adding a beautiful creaminess, and flavoursome dark sourdough on the side, it was just as good as I remembered Ottolenghi’s to be! My breakfast felt indulgent even though it was reasonably healthy, and really hit the spot. Boy did good at deciding where to take me for brunch.
Chez Bob stayed relatively busy whilst we sat there finishing off. With people finishing up and leaving, and others taking the empty outdoor tables – it’s obviously a popular spot for enjoying the spring sunshine! With not far to wander home in the sunny weather, we made most of being outside – well, as much as we could before we got too chilly.
With brunch dishes between £4 and £9, smoothies just under £4 and other soft drinks between £2 and £3, it’s actually pretty reasonable for on the outskirts of Hampstead! Service was fab and friendly too, so you get to enjoy the full experience. We’re definitely heading back – I feel pretty lucky to have somewhere like this so close to the flat!
Where’s your favourite place to brunch?