Growing up in Australia, brunch was an institution which is why my heart sank a little when I had my first few brunches in London. Often relying on a caffeine injection in the morning, my first sip of milky nothingness, much like the salad garnish which accompanied my scrambled eggs, was definitely a disappointing start.
Fortunately, when I first stumbled on Ginger & White all hope was not lost. It appears that Antipodean inspired cafes have made quite an impression on the London brunch scene.
Ginger & White’s first cafe opened in Hampstead in 2009. The owners – Emma, Nick and Tonia – saw there was a need for a good cup of coffee in North London. And we are glad they did!
The Hampstead branch is located in Perrins Court, a quaint little pedestrianised laneway tucked away from the traffic in Hampstead Vilage. It’s a small but delightful establishment.
Effortlessly stylish, the small space is occupied by rustic tables, crates and a touch of leather furniture. The centrepoint is a large wooden communal table which singles, couples and families huddle around as they sip their Sqaure Mile Coffee. If communal is not your style, there are also bar seats by the window, outside and a cute little alcove towards the back if you want some privacy. The service is laid back and friendly and staff appear to know some of the local Hampstodians on a first name basis.
Ginger & White proudly boast, “we don’t do Grande” so if that’s what you’re looking for head to your local Starbucks or Costa. The coffee is one of the best in North London and has a thick nutty aroma and flavour. It’s no surprise the coffee is sourced from East London’s boutique coffee roasters Square Mile. Currently serving Red Brick Blend, the coffee is sourced seasonally throughout the globe and is delicately handroasted.
The food is sourced from the finest British produce, even the creamy salted butter is local – from the Coombe Valley in Somerset. The menu is simple yet caters for all appetites and sizes.
I ordered the soft boiled Treflach Farm eggs and buttered soldiers served with either Marmite or Gentleman’s Relish, a perfect breakfast for children or the young adult. I opted for Marmite since I discovered the latter is a type of anchovy paste, commonly known as “Patum Peperium”. The perfectly cooked eggs were served with knitted chicken blankets over them which was a cute touch.
The menus vary according to the location but all focus on British flavours. On my visit to England’s Lane Belsize Park, I ordered the full English breakfast with Scrambled Treflach Farm free range eggs, Blythburg bacon, Gloucester old spot sausage and slow roasted tomatoes with sourdough. The breakfast was perfectly balanced and seemed to get the elements just right. The eggs were cooked to perfection and had a rich buttermilk flavour.
Fellow sweet tooths, you will have a tough choice choosing between the handmade cakes and pastries ranging from the classic Eccles Cake and Victoria Sponge to sinful chocolate brownies. All of the cakes have been made in-house, without a preservative in sight.
As a London based Aussie, Ginger & White has made quite an impression and leaves me feeling at home with its cosy touches (especially the red and blue blankets for customers sitting outside). If only they could switch the Marmite to Vegemite, but I guess the latter isn’t quintessentially British.
Soho branch now open.