I am an unapologetic brunch lover, which is probably a very Millennial thing to say. After all, we’re the generation that, if The New York Post is to be believed, “has officially ruined brunch” while throwing away our not-very-hard-earned cash on smashed avocados and sourdough. We’ve taken the humble pancakes and hash browns and elevated it, we can spot the difference between shakshuka and eggs diavola a mile off, and we’ve even gone so far as to add not just booze, but a smorgasbord of mimosas, prosecco and bottomless options for occasions when drinking before 11am seems like a sensible life decision.
To be honest, I could take or leave most fancy brunch options. For one, I find being surrounded by anyone who insists on treating their meal and/ or social life as a performance while live streaming it to all seven of their Instagram followers beyond infuriating. But also because for me, “brunch”, that tasty halfway house between breakfast and lunch when it’s just as acceptable to devour muffins and pancakes as it is scrambled eggs and baked beans, isn’t about aggressive socialising, or even food for that matter- more on which later.
I grew up with “brunch” meaning a full English on a Sunday morning, The Sunday Times taking up half the breakfast table in all its broadsheet glory, and a day of doing as much or as little as we wanted ahead of us. Fast-forward a decade or so and, when my partner and I aren’t working, “brunch” either means we’ve got up too late for breakfast, or that we’ve decided to indulge in an hour of nothing but coffee, food and each other’s company before starting our day.
In both scenarios, as far as I’m concerned, the coffee and the food are a vehicle for conversation- an excuse to do nothing for a short while. In the same way that no one really wants to discuss the potential consequences of a no-deal Brexit over their morning latté, I don’t want anything complicated or overly elaborate on my plate. Rather, I want the gastronomic equivalent of a chat with an old friend; simple, familiar, wholesome flavours- which is where Pipis comes in.
Unlike other cafés in the area, eating here has that cosy feeling of eating at home, and not because we live less than half a mile away. With a menu seemingly designed to showcase the very best of local ingredients, the ingredients and flavours are all either ones I use in the kitchen myself or ones that I wish I did. Think favourites like porridge, but with a “vanilla poached apple”, or bacon and egg sangers (pictured) that come jazzed up with a tomato and chilli relish that has *just* the right amount of heat.
A handful of dishes aside, it’s also a menu that doubles up perfectly as a lunch/ daytime carte du jour. Craving fish, I plumped for the smoked trout rillettes with pickled gherkins, a soft boiled egg and wholemeal toast. It’s simple, it’s hearty, it’s creamy, fresh and light all at the same time, a grown-up version of egg and soldiers but with the hint of smoked trout competing with the egg for the title of the dish’s hero ingredient.
It cost $21, almost double that of my partner’s bacon and egg roll at $12, but they are two completely different dishes. One is something you can pick up at a roadside cafe, elevated to a delectable breakfast burger. The other is something different, an indulgent breakfast or a refreshing, light lunch. The combination of both isn’t just good value but washed down with a few flat whites it’s the perfect definition of brunch as I know and want it to be at the sort of place where you linger, savouring both meal and moment before going back out into reality.