Saturday, 21 February 2009


after a long spell of biting cold weather, the first signs of spring are appearing in london. in hyde park there is a patchy carpet of purple crocuses and on my kitchen table there is a glass bearing snowdrops from my flat mates garden. this saturday the sun made its grand appearance and was accompanied by slight warmth. i woke up to it licking the corners of my blinds demanding that i abandon my bed for a day of coffee and chitchats with my best girl friend. i reached over and called i and said, it gorgeous out, lets meet up for brunch and go exploring. for some time now i have been adding cafes and restaurants to a list in my red moleskin diary and lantana happened to be on that list. lantana is located off charlotte street in a little alley that is home to an italian delicatessen, a health food shop called peppercorns and a place that was advertising walk-in back rubs. a dark wood table and hollowed modern cubes of wood shaped into stools make up the front outdoor seating. the soundtrack for lantana is the sound of conversations bearing the stamp of their space on the map of the world. on the wall facing the entrance is painted a large monochromatic mural of flowers and foliage. 

i and i didn’t have trouble finding a space for ourselves. we sat sandwiched between a group of four friends who appeared to have had an extensive brunch and another couple who were working their brunch over the morning newspaper. a much needed morning coffee arrived shortly at the table. lantana serves monmouth coffee with perfection. i’s pot of tea revealed a lovely smelling english breakfast but was lukewarm. the offerings of the brunch menu were all tempting and it took us a while to settle on something. since i had heard lots about the baked beans i decided to give them a go alongside poached eggs. i settled on ricotta pancakes with poached pears and yoghurt. this is where we hit the second fork in the road as the order took quite a while to arrive and when it did once again i’s pancakes were lukewarm.

 my poached eggs on the other hang were warm and broke into a flood of warm liquid yolk. i forgot to ask for unbuttered bread when i had ordered and when i did place an extra request it was met immediately. however it was the baked beans that truly outdid themselves. they were warm and slightly sweet in their tomato sauce. there was also a hint of cinnamon spice and a crumble of feta on them. the combination of egg, baked beans and toasted sour dough was the perfect start to my saturday. i remember trying i’s ricotta pancakes which had a delicate flavor. the sweetness of the poached fruit was balanced with the yoghurt and the ricotta pancake but i do agree that if it had been warmer it would have done more for the flavors. our order of a brownie that i conscientiously sliced into half turned out to the best brownie i’ve had in london so far. it was the perfect cousin of its american counterparts – that is chocolatey and slightly chewy with an addition of nuts in it. i had a long black with the brownie with no milk or sugar, a testimony to the fact that is was well made since it did not taste bitter.

before leaving we got a chance to speak to the lady who runs the café. lantana has been around for almost five months now. given the time frame i am willing to give lantana a little time to settle down and break into a smoother service, especially when it comes to the time it takes to serve. it is obvious that love and care have been put into the running of the café. the lady who runs it was previously a lawyer and is evidently still working the dynamics of running the place. i’ll be returning to lantana to see how it gets along…