Monday, 11 August 2014

Breakfast at Latana Café, London

Latana Café is one of three Antipodean cafes offering great breakfasts for Londoners: Latana is in Fitzrovia, Salvation Jane in Shoreditch and Ruby Dock in Camden.

I am lucky to have Latana about five minutes away from my office, and I’ve recently visited twice for breakfast in a fortnight. Tucked away deep in the heart of Fitzrovia, the café is divided into Latana IN and Latana OUT, those in a rush can grab some pastries and coffee on the hoof from Latana OUT on the way to work.

Lantana Cafe: Australia in the depths of Fitzrovia

In, out, in, out, shake it all about

Takeaway pastries

Sitting inside Latana there’s a definite Scandinavia feel to the café, with unvarnished wooden table tops, mismatched chairs and even one table in the corner with an IKEA-style fold away table. Outside there are wooden benches with little stools to sit on, and away from the street on Charlotte’s Place, when the sun shines it’s actually a nice little area of London to be in.

The café feels fresh with whitewashed walls and at the end of the café a fantastic grey wall mural of a butterfly. While we perused the extensive breakfast menu, nameless chill-out music played in the background and we drank water from jugs filled with mountains of mint.

Artwork inside the cafe 

Lantana's pastries and muffins look too tempting

The café heralds its coffee, and while I’m not a massive coffee connoisseur, my colleague wasn’t bowled over by the beans. The food on the other hand is a different story…

On my first visit I choose the slow braised beans with ham hock, served on corn bread with grilled chorizo, a poached egg and spinach (£8.50). It was like a ranch breakfast – or cowboy breakfast – with the smoky beans and chorizo creating warmth to my morning chow down. Sadly I felt it slightly overpowered the ham hock, but it was really delicious and the egg was poached to perfection. The meal was served on top of a dense grilled cornbread and ever since one of my first breakfasts in San Francisco I’ve been a fan of this unusual carb-loaded bread. Absolutely delicious – I will be trying that at home.

Breakfast fit for a cowboy

My colleagues chose the house cured salmon on organic dark rye roast with a poached egg, pickled beetroot, lemon crème fraiche and chervil (£9.50) and smashed avocado and streaky bacon on a sourdough toast with a poached egg and rocket (£7.50) both of which went down very well – especially the avocado on toast which was presented like an indulgent butter, check out my recipe for this energy boosting breakfast.

House cured salmon on organic dark rye

Mashed avocado and bacon

On my second visit a week later, my dedicated colleague and I returned at opening at 8am on a Thursday as a pay-day treat and there was already a queue forming with desperate Fitzrovia media-types waiting to be let in.

This time I choose the toasted courgette bread with grilled halloumi, slow roast tomatoes, a poached egg and chilli jam (£11.50), while my colleague chose the maple French toast with streaky bacon, grilled banana and toast pecans (£10.00).

Round two at Lantana

It was the courgette bread which caught my eye in the breakfast, and it didn’t disappoint – the substantial portion was cakey, yet firm and was a different take on my much-loved cornbread. Again, the egg was perfected poached, and the sweet chilli went brilliantly with the bread. But it was the halloumi that was a slight let-down as I felt it just didn’t bring anything to the dish.

I’ve had this before with meals where halloumi is added to the dish at quite a significant mark up in price and so many people (myself included) think of the last amazing halloumi burger they ate and order it in a hurry. But halloumi is only as good as the sauces and seasonings it absorbs, and while the rest of this breakfast was amazing, the halloumi was just average.

Was the halloumi necessary in this Lantana breakfast?

But I’ve saved the best until last. The French toast here was incredible. I couldn’t believe the architectural genuis as the plate was placed in front of my colleague. The double thick doorsteps of bread were standing beautifully like a castle, with a ravine of buttery maple syrup acting as a moat surrounding it. Throw in the saltiness of the bacon and you have a breakfast of heart attack inducing strength, but at least you will die happy. Very very happy.

Lantana's French Toast is a heart attack on a plate, but a welcomed one

It’s only been a couple of months on this breakfast journey of mine, but so far this place has to be my favourite little café – a foodie haven right in craziness of central London. I urge you to give it a go.

13 Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1SN