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Dessert Maestro Albert Adrià Can’t Avoid Avocado Toast’s Death Grip on Brunch

ElBulli’s former pastry chef gets sucked in to the brunch malaise at Cakes and Bubbles

Burrata avocado toast on the Cakes and Bubbles brunch menu Cakes and Bubbles/Instagram

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is a hard pass.

News of the week

It’s been open for a while now, but Allegra, ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell’s new restaurant in Stratford, has now passed the elusive tipping point that turns a celebrated opening into a bona fide Instagram sensation. The reason why certain places pop and others fizzle remains shrouded in mystery, but one highly speculative and deeply unproven theory is that the feed’s tastes are moving away from the merely pretty and towards something more substantial and genuinely appetising. Granted, Powell’s impressive PR machinery is probably helping, but — as pie master Calum Franklin’s success has demonstrated — there’s a real appetite for proper tekkers — precision pastry work, finessed knife-work, old-school skillsets and all. Expect to see many, many more shots of that pithivier in the months to come.

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Paris breast, chocolate, caramelised pears.

A post shared by Hannah Catley (@hannahhcatley) on

Finstagram of the week

No one say “school of fish.”

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Amazing fish butchery from @mrniland !

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Surprising tangent of the week

When it opened, Albert Adria’s Cakes and Bubbles promised two things and two things only: a whole lotta cakes, and a whole lotta bubbles. It has recently diversified into the congested field that is Brunch, with a menu styled in a manner that might be termed Basic De Luxe. A £32 king crab salad; a club sandwich (?!?!); the slime-on-slime unctuousness of burrata on avocado on toast. It’s a weird-looking flex from one of the most creative and influential, least basic chefs of recent years — although perhaps it’s best interpreted as further evidence that even super-prime central London isn’t immune from the current market conditions.

Rockpool of the week

It’s a favourite all over town.

Maximalists of the week

Home cooking is generally characterised as humble, simple, literally homely — for the OTT and ambitious, the world generally turns to restaurants. And yet a home kitchen offers the cook almost total freedom from the pressures chefs face in restaurants — no paying diners to please, no last-minute dietary requests to absorb, no burden of convention or expectation. Perhaps it’s time for a reappraisal: all hail the home cook, champion of excess.

11/10s of the week

They’re good dogs Dent

Puddings of the week

Earlier this year, the prospects for a full-blown pudding renaissance seemed promising. But that was summer — hardly the time of year to tuck in. Fortunately, the cooler weather has continued to nudge pastry sections in the direction of the sticky, the creamy and the otherwise indulgent. With seasonally-sanctioned parkin, mince pies and Christmas pudding all on the horizon, the future’s bright.

“Pudding” of the week

It’s got eggs, dairy and starch — sounds legit.

Pasta dish of the week

See home cooks, excessive tendencies thereof, above.

Dish of the week

Tired: ubiquitous mid-2000s pairing of scallops with cauliflower puree


Shot of the week

Good enough to eat, but please do not.