Friands at Lantana

image

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

image

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.

Kiwi Burger at Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Kiwiburger

There is honestly no humanly possible way to eat this burger. Or rather, there’s no standard burger middle ground between using cutlery and cramming the whole thing into your gob with vegetables and meat and condiments flying everywhere. But then, this burger does feature beetroot, egg, pineapple and cheese – let’s ignore for a minute the lettuce, ketchup, mayonnaise, sesame seed bun. Oh, and the huge beef patty!

“All in all, a pretty tasty burger, but would I rush out to have it again?”

I’m tempted to suggest this is a ‘concept burger’, rather than one intended to be, say, actually eaten. But what concept? Not ‘New Zealandism’. Not even ‘gourmet’. Maybe plain and simple gluttony.

The question is, setting apart the impossibility of eating this in any way half graceful, did it taste nice?

I’ll be honest, having been on something of a gourmet burger quest, I don’t rate GBK that highly. Yes, they’re a cut above the standard new-wave posh burger, but they’re no¬†Byron Burger, and certainly not a Meat Liquor Dead Hippy or off-menu Joe Allen burger.

That said, this is the original GBK, before they went franchise-crazy, and they have new ‘testing’ burgers, which haven’t yet made it to the standard menu – oh, and they don’t take Taste Cards for that reason.

“There is honestly no humanly possible way to eat this burger”

And the verdict? You know what? It was pretty good. The egg has a perfectly runny yolk, adding a real homeliness to what is obviously essentially comfort food. The pineapple didn’t even slightly overpower, giving a tart, sweet, fruity bite. I’m no great fan of beetroot, and I’d probably have it without if I had it again, but I can’t pretend it didn’t add another, distinct flavour that genuinely added something.

All in all, a pretty tasty burger, but would I rush out to have it again? I do go to GBK every so often, but that’s because it’s reasonably cheap – with a Taste Card. Without an offer, it’s a rip-off. And since the franchises really do vary considerably in quality, I wouldn’t bet on another outlet’s Kiwi monstrosity tasting as good. I doubt I’ll rush back to the Northcote Road store, but I may well make a beetless kiwi my standard go to (half-price) burger at GBK.

72/100 of Time Out’s top 100