Stacey Smith - Crummbs

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You know that one friend that always has the best restaurant and bar recommendations? The one that you always ask where to go when you have someone visiting towm, or you’re going on a date? That’s Stacey – also known as Crummbs – and that’s exactly how her food blog started. We all know London has a lot of great options (heck, even too many), so we sat down to pick her brain on how it all started, and where to eat some of the best food of your life, right here in London.

 

First things first. Are you originally from London?

No, I’m from Kent but I moved here about 10 years ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I’m almost 30...but I’m not really worried about it.

 

Age isn’t a big deal – the only thing it determines is how big the party’s going to be!

Exactly! I’ve asked (well, told) my boyfriend to plan my 30th birthday party as I don’t want to do it myself. I’ve been thinking about it for the past two years and I have some ideas.

 

What are you thinking?

If money was no object I would go on a country retreat with some friends. We’d have a big feast with all my favourite food, candles and flowers everywhere, and just drink and celebrate into the early hours. That would be the dream. I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.

 

Seeing as money is an object…

Seeing as we haven’t won the lottery yet(!), I’m quite partial to the idea of a boat – floating down the canal with some drinks and nibbles. I’ve been on one before and the company provided a bartender, making us cocktails with little mini rubber ducks floating in them. It stops outside Crate Brewery so you can have pizza after.

 

That sounds ideal! Have you told your boyfriend?

Nope – it’s just in my head!

Stacey

Get him on it! Shouldn’t be too hard to plan. So, when you first moved to London you weren’t food blogging, were you?

I

 was a Womenswear Buyer’s Assistant, earning absolutely no money. I don’t know how I did it – I would literally eat beans on toast, but I was happy as Larry! I was so excited to be in London I think I just survived on good vibes. Looking back, it was quite tough. But it was how the blog started – even though London is expensive there are a lot of great free events and inexpensive places to eat, and I was out all the time, exploring.

 

What was your favourite thing to do?

I would go with all the Fashion girls to First Thursdays to take advantage of the free beer (and art) at the East London art galleries. We would also go to restaurant soft launches to try the menus at 50% off – champagne lifestyle, beer budget.

 

And you started writing about it?

People I knew started asking me for recommendations, and I didn’t have a source to direct them to. Then, one day I was sitting eating pizza on the roof of what is now the Oval Space, and had the idea for the blog. I asked a friend of mine to design a website and it took off from there! To start with I didn’t take it seriously and had no idea what I was doing; it was just a bit of fun. It’s been a big learning curve – if you do something enough then you naturally get better at it. These days at least one new post goes live a day.

 

How do you usually find out about new openings – do they get in touch with you, or is it more word-of-mouth?

At the start Twitter was a huge source of information for me – Instagram didn’t exist yet. As the blog grew I started to be contacted by PRs and restaurants, and I get about 150 emails a day now about reviewing.

 

150 a day – is there even enough time to eat that much!

I’ve had to start being more selective, which can be hard. I love to champion smaller, independent eateries because they can be just as great, and harder to find so they need a feature! Because of the blog I’ve also started writing for The Independent and Balance magazine, so I get to balance the larger companies with the indies.

 

How often do you eat out a week – every day?

Nearly every day, sometimes three times a day. I try to give myself a couple of nights off, especially from the booze! I absolutely adore cooking myself, and it helps me to switch off.  I love hosting too – I have a bar cart which is perfect for mixing up some cocktails to go with a big dinner.

 

A bar cart! Now that is what Pinterest dreams are made of. So what happens if you have a really bad experience at a restaurant – do you still write a review?

If it’s truly terrible – and that has happened once or twice – I’ll get in touch with the PR or marketing team and ask them if they still want a review (they usually don’t). Otherwise, I try to focus on the positives – Crummbs is an upbeat publication and it would be strange if I suddenly went all serious-food-critic on a review. I will be honest, as my role is to try out a new location or menu, but who am I to critique someone’s effort to run a restaurant? It’s a huge amount of work and I really admire it!

 

Do you follow any other food bloggers?

London on the Inside – Jules, who runs it, is a bit of a superwoman. She also looks after the PR for The Hoxton hotels. I also like Samphire and Salsify and KS Ate Here.

 

Do you notice everyone hopping on the same food trends? We’ve noticed a big move towards vegan food.

Vegan food is huge right now! Even restaurants like Hawksmoor are providing vegan options on their menu. The days are long gone where you could only find meat and fish on the menu at pubs. I think it’s here to stay – less of a trend and more a cuisine.

 

It’s great for us at BN because quite a few of us are vegan! Especially the vegan bakeries that are popping up.

Speaking of baked goods, I tried a vegan charcoal-activated croissant the other day.

 

…What?

Yeah – it was black. Not as good as a regular croissant, unfortunately.

 

Joyce / Cherry Blossom

Blimey. Well that’s weird. What other trends have you noticed?

Seasonality was a big deal a couple of years ago – changing the menus regularly depending on what produce was available in the UK. Now there seems to be a lot of artichoke everywhere. I think we’re going to start moving towards a more holistic approach – food as medicine and being mindful about what different ingredients can do for your health and wellbeing.

With ‘Dry January’ at the moment, and millennials not being big drinkers (apparently), I think brands like Seedlip will do well. Non-alcoholic spirits but with all the taste complexity of the real thing – I’m seeing it appear in more and more bars. But ask me again in October – I’ll probably be championing a particular wine!

 

Have you ever tried Dry January?

I did Sober October once and on the first night I had to attend a party at M restaurant, sponsored by Belvedere Vodka. The owner was sampling his own brand of wine as well – it was really so tough to hold off. I ended up passing everything to my boyfriend, and I did manage to go the whole month without a drink!

 

That’s fantastic! Okay, let’s do a quick-fire question round for restaurant recommendations…

 

Brunch with the girls?

Jones & Sons for their bottomless (food and booze).

 

Romantic dinner?

The Palomar for their cosy counter-seating and Middle Eastern food.

 

Sunday roast?

You cannot beat a Hawksmoor Sunday roast – and you must order a side of mac ‘n’ cheese!

 

Best comfort food?

I won’t leave Clapton if I want comfort food – it would defeat the point if you had to go too far! My Neighbours the Dumplings has the best pork belly in the world. Or, our local pizzeria SoDo.

 

Favourite food market?

Borough Market is too busy, so it’s got to be Broadway Market, which is closer to me anyway. I used to go all the time when I first moved to the area. One of the girls that I’d moved in with – who is now my best friend – took me to Broadway for the first time. I honestly felt like I’d come home, even though I’d never been there before! Like it was what I’d been looking for. It makes me so happy. You can go with a fiver and have some of the best food.

 

Broadway is our favourite weekend haunt! They just opened a permanent vegan market counterpart to it as well. It’s also the perfect place for dog watching! Massive dog fans here.

I couldn’t agree more. I took a few photos of some dogs and interspersed them on my Instagram feed – they got more Likes than the food photos! I’m desperate for a French Bulldog.

 

Please. And give him a cool food-related name. And bring him to visit us at the store. Final question – what or where are you most excited to try this year?

I want to travel more – at the end of 2017 I went to The Pig for a weekend away. My aim this year is to go on more foodie-focused minibreaks. It really revives you. I’m going to Champneys this weekend with my mum, and at the end of January I’m going to Kenya for work! That will be interesting.

 

We can’t wait to see what Kenyan cuisine is like – we’ll keep an eye on the Instagram!

 Carrie / Rose

Want more food? See Stacey’s website for more great recommendations on how to hit the spots to hit in London.

 

Stacey wears the Joyce in Cherry Blossom and Carrie in Rose.

IG: @crummbs_uk

Photography: @calumhead

Shot on location at Sans Pere, Old Street.

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