The trials and tribulations of Valentines day. I agree that it is commercialised nonsense, an American tradition that has been exported to the world by greeting card companies. Yes, I am much too cool for Valentines day. What’s more all the decent restaurants have been booked out for months and the remainder will be filled with cooing couples ordering oysters and heart shaped desserts. But what girl doesn’t want a little love and attention and damn it anyway, Valentines day fell on a Saturday this year so I didn’t want to sit at home for the whole day.
Last year MTV boyfriend and I overcame the Valentines day dilemma by heading to Hereford Road in Notting Hill. With all that offal on the menu the sickeningly saccharine Valentines day diners were deterred and the restaurant was filled with a mix of groups and couples with the only overt public display of affection coming from a lesbian couple in one corner. This year we decided that the best way to avoid excessive coupledom would be to go out for brunch instead of dinner.
I have been meaning to try out Lantana in Soho since it opened. As you may have guessed from the name Lantana is an Australian run cafe which opened a few months ago. Reports so far indicated that the brunch was good and the coffee was even better. The cafe itself is fairly unassuming and is located in a quaint little laneway a few blocks from Tottenham Court road. A large communal counter sits across the front window and tables with bench seating line one side of the tiny premises. Pride of place is given to the shiny La Marzocco espresso machine machine on the counter which is fuelled by the holy grail of Monmouth beans.
MTV boyfriend is eager to try this combination out so we grab a table while helping ourselves from the jug of tap water (nice touch) and the freely available assortment of newspapers and magazines (super nice touch). As soon as the coffee is put down in front of us we know we are in for a treat. Everything is perfect from the carefully traced pattern in the foamy top, to the instant wake up of the deep coffee aromas to finally that glorious coffee hit.
Now that we are awake we have time to peruse the brunch menu. It looks to be heavily influenced by Bill’s cafe in Sydney but in my books that is a good thing. I order a classic Bill’s dish: corn fritters (pictured). The fritters are served with rocket, bacon, roasted tomato and a poached egg. It is not the prettiest brunch dish I have ever seen but it is one of the tastiest. The sweet corn is offset with the hearty eggs and bacon to create a dish that really pings with flavour.
MTV boyfriend’s bacon and egg sandwich is made with quality bacon and eggs on tasty sourdough bread but it is not quite in the same league as my fritters. He consoles himself with a second coffee while I test out Lantana’s humming bird cake. I manage to snaffle the last one and I am glad that I did as it is feather light and topped with some sensationally rich icing.
Service throughout is laid back but friendly . I only wish that I was a super cool media or advertising type who worked in Soho so that I could be a regular at Lantana rather than only visiting on my non-Valentine, Valentines day date.
Details: 13 Charlotte Place, Soho W1T1SN (Ph 020 7637 3347)
If you liked this you may also be interested in equal contenders for the best breakfast in London: Providores in Marylebone and Raoul’s in Notting Hill. Or read about last years Valentines day at Hereford Road.