Friands at Lantana


You may have noticed the proliferation of New Zealand coffee shops in London. “No sir, we don’t serve lah-tays. Would you like a flat white?

“Biting into them, you get a delicious marzipanny-macaroony nut hit”

Apparently friands are to New Zealanders as teacakes are to Brits. At least, they would be if the British still ate teacakes. These (originally French) almond buns, a close cousin of the financier, arrive in pretty oval shapes, with inclusions (at least at Lantana) of a variety of different toppings. We dutifully try the pistacio and pear varieties. On another occasion, I saw date and hazelnut versions, so your mileage may vary, though I suspect all the different ones on offer are delicious.

They remind me of my mum’s almond cake, made without flour to be kosher for passover, though these are dried and less pudding-like. Biting into them, you get a delicious marzipanny-macaroony nut hit. The icing sugar on top is unnecessary (is it ever not?), as they have a deep sweetness that makes me think I couldn’t manage another without feeling very nauseous. That said, as an indulgent (second) breakfast [we arrived here right after the Turkish Eggs as Kopapa], one certainly hits the spot.

I think it’s fairly likely that these would be easy to replicate at home, but with the fantastic coffee (as you might expect from any of these Kiwi joints), and the other treats on offer – including savouries – I’m sure I’ll be back.

Turkish Eggs at Kopapa


Until recently, I’ve really not been one for big, complicated breakfasts. I’ve standardly eaten a bowl of cereal, though recently branched out into porridge with banana since discovering the ease-of-cooking with a microwave at work. Yum. But, then, breakfasts became ‘in’, what with The Breakfast Club and all. I even starting meeting a policeman friend for breakfast, because early mornings seemed to be the only times we could coordinate to meet. And it was with him, before setting off on a group holiday in Wales, that I ate Kopapa’s Turkish Eggs.

“[I]t feels like this is a power-breakfast, that will propel you through the day with a smile”

First things first. ‘Hot chilli butter’ (on top of the poached eggs and whipped yoghurt) – that’s not going to be in solid form. But it’s only when said friend points out that that’s what this clear, reddish liquid drenched all over must be that I realise quite what an all food groups (fat, fat and fat) meal this is! To be honest this is a surprising revelation, because the dish is both fresh and light. It’s hugely flavoursome, with the chilli marking a (gentle) punch-in-your-face wake-up to go with the more traditionally breakfasty eggs. The yoghurt, fluffy and light, ensures a tangy bedrock for the dish, which rewards delving-deeply with your spoon.

I’ll admit, I was glad of bitter coffee to cut through what could (especially if rendered by a less sure hand) have ended up a cloying mess of a dish. Instead, it works well, with a side of sourdough toast giving a wholesome feel to what is supposedly the most important meal of the day.

I fear this review rather unreasonably focuses on the calorific aspects of what would be a treat of a start-to-the-day (if only for the cost), and everyone knows that calories before midday don’t count (NB: this may not be a view endorsed by the medical profession). In fact, it feels like this is a power-breakfast, that will propel you through the day with a smile on your face and a smug feeling of having explored the world’s culinary boundaries before you’re out of your (proverbial) pyjamas.

It powered me to Wales, at least.

Poached rhubarb with coconut bread at Caravan


Can there be anything more disappointing than going to a restaurant that you’ve long wanted to visit, or where you’ve had a great meal before, drooling over the menu, only to find what you’ve ordered turns out to be, or at least looks, far less exciting than what everyone else is eating? Clearly the answer to this question is ‘yes’, but you get the gist.

“Decidedly flat and, frankly, a bit bland.”

I’d long been looking forward to brunch at Caravan. Rachael had been before, and had a delicious cornbread dish, so was eager to explore the menu further. But Time Out’s recommended dish – in fact in the top ten subset of their hundred best dishes – of poached rhubarb and lemon curd on coconut bread was decidedly flat and, frankly, a bit bland.

Rather than glorious sardines on toast or perfect poached eggs nestled on glistening shakshuka, we had a thick slices of dry coconut bread (think the consistency of corner-shop cherry cake), with barely citrussy lemon curd and a slightly meagre quantity of admittedly pleasant rhubarb. Flavours that should have complemented each other were instead barely present. Certainly nothing to write home about.

Will I be back? The other menu offerings probably will tempt me. But I won’t be rushing back as quickly as I’d expected to before I’d been there, which isn’t exactly a great testament to a really disappointing dish.

Bacon naan at Dishoom


Could this be the perfect way to start the day? Especially for those who’d been out the night before.

“But boy what a bacon butty…”

Grilled bacon meets sweet, tangy tomato chutney (it would be unfair to call this fresh, well-spiced sauce “ketchup”), yoghurt and a handful of coriander. This is all wrapped in a freshly-baked naan, which surprised us all by being fluffy, light and soft rather than dense, heavy and hard as we’d incorrectly imagined it might be.

Later in the day someone remarked that they just wanted some normal food rather than kidneys or bubble tea. This dish is definitely ‘normal food’, fused with Indian tastes and taken to an extreme. It’s just a bacon butty, but boy what a bacon butty! Along with sweet chai this is breakfast to get out of bed for. And yes, the perfect hangover cure.

53/100 best eats in London

Brunch at No 30 Café


I love brunch – it’s a brilliant invention. Somehow it makes eating the most unhealthy meals seen genuinely good for you. Something to do with ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’: no matter what you have it’s worthwhile…

But better than brunch is a good brunch. Good brunch can be great, and given that the brunch I had at No 30 Café was just good, I guess it was  only mediocre.

I had eggs benedict (back to any unhealthy meal is excused), and excellent Norfolk ham sat atop perfectly fine muffins. The eggs were perfect poached hemispheres, and here the problems began. Poached eggs shouldn’t be perfect, and I’m not really a believer in egg poachers (the gadget, not the profession if there is one). Poached eggs should be wispy, uneven things. They’re pretty difficult to get right, but that may be why when you do they’re surely the best eggs on earth. Light, not heavy. Fresh and runny, not stodgy and hard.

To top this off, the hollandaise, served on the side, meant the experience was one of dipping muffin, egg and ham into pure, yellow, fatty goo. Okay, I know that’s what hollandaise is, but when it’s drizzled on top it’s slightly better disguised.

Lovely loose leaf tea served in a large pot somewhat redeemed these choices, and Tom’s croque madame was genuinely delicious, so I’ll certainly give the place another try. But I’ll be on the lookout for even better places in the meantime.