Inventive brunch at Lantana Café
The trendy Lantana Café in central London was quite lively when we arrived for Sunday brunch. The earthy, unfinished wood furniture provided a nice balance to the modern white walls and decor. The chatter of patrons and range of sounds coming from the fabulous coffee machines were enough to wake up even the most bedraggled breakfast-goer.
We were seated at a large table downstairs away from the buzz upstairs. Despite our proximity to the kitchen, it was much quieter where we dined. Surprisingly, though, our spot by the kitchen did not facilitate attentive service. It took a while to have our drink and meal orders taken and to receive our much-needed caffeine fixes, but the servers we encountered were friendly and very knowledgeable of the menu.
Lantana prides itself on bringing the tastes of Australia to the U.K. You’ll find a range of coffees, including iced coffees, cappuccinos, mochas, macchiatos, piccolos and espressos. And if you’re not a coffee drinker, opt for a chai latte, fresh squeezed orange juice or Bloody Mary.
The food also provides a distinctive fusion of flavors. If you typically eat little at breakfast, try the homemade banana bread with raspberry yogurt spread or muesli with yogurt and pears.
I ordered the coconut French toast topped with pistachios, creamy ricotta, toasted coconut flakes and lime syrup. The French toast was very thick and had not soaked long enough in the custard before cooking, which made it a bit dry. I asked for more of the slightly tart lime syrup, which improved the toast’s texture and complemented the savory ricotta and sweet coconut notes.
In the end, I had food envy – the savory dishes ordered by my travel buddies were incredible. The corn fritters, a cross between crab cakes and potato pancakes, were stacked high with fresh spinach leaves, American-style bacon, roasted tomatoes and guacamole. And the traditional beef hash was topped with poached eggs, arugula and tomato relish. The beef’s saltiness was accented with the sweet tomato relish, peppery arugula and creamy egg. Each bite of these two dishes provided a unique experience, depending on how much of each element graced the fork.
We left very full, caffeinated and ready for a walk around the city on a sunny Sunday. I wish I could say that I left satisfied - sadly, I didn't savor nearly enough of the inventive food leaving Lantana's kitchen.
Tips: Lantana does not take reservations; if you’re planning to go for weekend brunch, you’re better off going early. If Lantana is too crowded or out of the way, try Salvation Jane. This sister café is located four miles east and serves a nearly identical menu. Lantana Café also offers take-out services if you need to eat on the run.
Open Mon - Fri: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Breakfast: Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 12 p.m.-3 p.m.
Weekend Brunch: Sat-Sun, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Breakfast/Weekend Brunch: 3.70-11.50 pounds
Lunch: 6.50-12 pounds
Photo by Genevieve Northup