Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Breakfast at Royal Quarter Café, London

The sleek and stylish Royal Quarter Café near Victoria in London was chosen for a mid-week breakfast meeting by my colleague.

Early on a Tuesday morning it was quiet, apart from a couple of suited city-types who were already tucking into their enormous full English breakfasts.

On entering there were rows of tempting cakes under the counter, as well as a circular buffet table of pastries, bowls of fruit and - strangely - giant meringues. A miniature orange tree sat on the table, and apples and oranges were placed in wicker baskets in an attempt to capture the on-trend farmers’ market appeal.

What I liked most about this café was how open and airy it felt. The space felt a lot larger than it was, thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that looked onto the street. Inside it was homely with low lighting, sofas and pictures hanging on the wall. But other bits of the café were more clean cut and a bit “Ikea” with the pine furniture and geometric feature walls, and I must admit I found this juxtaposition a little odd.

But when my eye caught the bright red illuminated letters spelling out ‘ROYAL QUARTER CAFÉ’ above the counter, I definitely felt the design of the place was a little clinical and confused thanks to the muddle of homely and modern.

The Royal Quarter Cafe in Victoria

Trying to push across the Borough-market feel
Sleek and modern

Picture perfect

I ordered the French toast, which was described as ‘home-made brioche, poached pears, crème fraîche and mixed berry compote’. To accompany that, I also ordered the apple, carrot and ginger freshly squeezed juice.

The French toast arrived and, as always, I happily tucked into this deliciously indulgent morning treat. I was also having an in-depth conversation at the time, and it wasn’t until I returned to the Royal Quarter Café menu online a day later to check prices (£7.50 for the French toast and £4.95 for the juice) that I realised I was shortchanged my pears, as you can see in the photo.

It's always got to be the French toast

That said, at the time I didn’t miss them, or I would have said something. The bread was cut into thick doorstops which were a rich yellow from the fried eggy mixture which was clinging to the crust. And the choice of brioche made the dish slightly sweeter, while the texture was as light as a feather.

But where were my pears?

No pears – but the strawberries, raspberries and a dark berry compote were a nice, yet average addition. And the dish was rounded off with icing sugar - less delicately sprinkled and more of a dusty avalanche - along with crème fraîche.

Two delicately poached eggs on toast for my colleague

And the ginger bought a kick to the freshly squeezed apple and carrot juice, which was very refreshing on a hot summer morning, but at £4.95, way over half the price of the actual breakfast, I thought was a little extreme.

Royal Quarter Café
Wellington House, 72-73 Buckingham Gate, London