Friday, 8 November 2013

Lantana Café: where good things come to those who wait

A good brunch for me is something effectively more nutritious than elevenses or beans on toast. During my early years in the UK, I wouldn't eat in typical cafés because these so called greasy spoons would make me feel like I've eaten a truckload of stodge. It's all changed now. Thank you, antipodeans, for coming to London and taking brunch culture to the next level.

My friend A and I went to award-winning Melbourne-style café Lantana in Fitzrovia. It's a side street café with a sit-down area and a take-away shop next door. The cool, unpretentious dining space can only sit about 25-30 at a push (although they do have a chef's table downstairs) so punters are usually seen all queued out, watching diners sat outdoors wolfing down a brekky cocktail of toasts, eggs and fritters of sorts. We came at 10am on a Saturday and true enough there was already a queue snaking its way in. 40 minutes and several stories later we were taken to our table shared (closely) with two other diners. I was worried A & I wouldn't get to catch up properly because everything was so close to each other, but the atmosphere was so relaxed that it didn't feel invasive at all. A & I got to chat normally without fear of getting eavesdropped on.

We ordered three mains straight away. Dude, we waited almost an hour - of course we were going to make the most out of it!

Grilled haloumi on toast, rocket, tomatoes - sans poached egg

Brunch is never complete for me without cheese and toast so I got the grilled haloumi (£8.5). It's usually served with a poached egg but as I do not eat eggs, I went without. It was still satisfying and filling enough. Gorgeous, thick cuts of the cheese on perfectly toasted sourdough served with a well balanced home made herb pesto equals a very happy belly. Everything on the plate smelled, looked and tasted fresh. I don't usually like tomatoes but the ones I had were refreshing and sweet and it balanced out the saltiness of the cheese. I love this dish heaps!


Corn fritters + bacon. This is what fry-ups should be made of.

As we were in an Aussie-run cafe, we just had to have the corn fritters (£9.8). Lantana gives you two on a bed of rocket, topped with a generous serving of bacon rashers, creme fraiche and homemade chili jam (soooo good) and a roasted tomato on the side. A and I got a (big) fritter each. It was a good corn fritter indeed - filled with fresh corn and not dough, really crisp outside without the greasy aftertaste of things bathed in oil. And whoever supplies Lantana's hearty bacon, yuuum! Everything on this plate worked well together. Amazing.

Spanish style eggs

A got the Spanish-style baked eggs with chorizo sausage, mushrooms and fresh basil (£9.5). It came with toasted pita and a pot of creme fraiche. I didn't try it but it looked really nice and looking at A's face, it was the queen mum of all egg-based brunches.

HAPPINESS IN THREE PLATES.
It was a really good brunch and is easily one of the best and most resounding brunches I've had this year. We had quite a lot to eat and were absolutely full afterwards but we didn't have that uncomfortable feel of gluttony. Service was good, despite the hectic environment but the café really shines by its food and coffee (Monmouth!). I'd definitely go back again. And again. And again. I wish we didn't have to wait so long, but then again (and excuse the cliché) all great things are worth waiting for ;)

Lantana
13-14 Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1SN | 020 7637 3347
Average spend £15pp for weekend brunch with drinks/coffee
Lantana on Urbanspoon

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