I think I’ve found the answer to my Melbournian brunch craving in London.
Lantana, also known as a beautiful looking weed which thrives in foreign environments has developed into a metaphor for this place since it was opened by Australians on foreign soil in 2008. But this establishment is far from an annoying weed.
Lantana is tucked away in a little lane in Fitzrovia. Queues quickly form at this busy establishment so get there early. Two main entrances marked ‘In’ (eat in) and ‘Out’ (takeaway) are signposted outside so if you are in a rush avoid the lines and opt for ‘Out’, the coffee is just as good.
The cafe is small and cramped but makes up for it with its buzzing atmosphere. Decor is simple and minimalist with long wooden bench tables and chairs. The baristas are unflappable as they churn out coffee after coffee in a slightly claustrophobic space.
The menu is typically Melbournian in style. It has all the usual favourites and some of the more experimental items like baked Boston baked beans with pork belly and toasted banana bread with spiced marscapone and fresh passionfruit pulp. After much deliberation, I ordered the dill pancakes with Scottish smoked salmon and horseradish creme fraiche (£8.50). The breakfast was elegantly presented with a side of rocket salad, spring onion and capers. I was a little skeptical at first about the horseradish creme fraiche but it was airy and light and not overpowered by the horseradish. My only criticism of the pancakes, was their slightly heavy consistency.
My partner ordered the bircher muesli with poached fruit (£5.50), a regular summer favourite on the Australian brunch menu. It was the best bircher I’ve had since being in London. Light, fresh with a touch of sweetness from the poached fruit.
Coffee is an art here. The Square Mile coffee is exceptional - smooth, strong and delicious. Perfect presentation and temperature – full marks. The only downside is the wait.
One thing I distinctly noticed about the venue was that it was dominated by fellow Aussie accents. Although this reminded me of home it left me feeling disappointed that the British haven’t embraced Antipodean cafes in London.
Lantana has opened its first sister cafe called Salvation Jane in Shoreditch. For me, the Lantana weed can spread wherever it likes. It has reaffirmed my belief that brunch is of course the most important meal of the day.