Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lantana Cafe

How we relish finding good independent establishments. Hospitality seems so much better when it’s delivered up by an owner on a mission. So when we received this email from our well connected Australian friend, Trish:

“For the best coffee in London, you must visit my cousin’s café, Lantana, at 13 Charlotte Place – you can read her excellent blog too at

we thought it was entirely possible that she was related to the maker of the best coffee in London.

First, we checked out the blog, Scrambling Eggs, which was, indeed, wonderful. Anyone who writes this well with this much heart (see her post on English pubs for example) deserves our support. We need to get to Fitrovia and check this place out.

Ah Fitrovia. It’s not our usual beat, but we love going there, as much for the idea of its louche, bohemian past as its current status as media and advertising stomping ground. Walking around the area north east of Oxford Circus, you can almost imagine the streets and taverns populated with the likes of George Orwell, Dylan Thomas and Augustus John, who was rumored to pat the head of every child he met in passing, just in case it was his. Sadly, current residents are less colorful.

We arrived at Lantana on Charlotte Place in the middle of the lunch time rush, found a table and contemplated the menu. There were some good looking salads but I went for the corn fritters with rocket, oven roasted tomatoes, roast garlic, lime aioli and bacon pictured above. From the great list of ingredients, it was the bacon that finally did it for me - the last and best indulgent embellishment.

The Editor chose the steak sandwich which arrived on good bread with rocket, tomato, caramelized onion and horseradish crème fraiche. However, it was the Bundaberg ginger beer that we ordered which sent the Australian at the table next to us into paroxysms of homesickness. “Oh my God, that is soooo Australian.” Which makes sense since the owner of Latana, Shelagh Ryan, is an Australian on a mission to serve quality food (she has a real thing about properly scrambled eggs) and drink to deprived Londoners.

And what about that coffee? Well, we didn’t have any. It’s a boring story about the impact of caffeine on aging “who-whats” (and if you don’t know what that is I not going to tell you) but the authoritative Time Out says they make some of the best coffee in London so we reckon they do.

Even without coffee, we really enjoyed our lunch at Lantana. The café manages to be hip and cosy all at the same time which ain’t an easy thing to do. The music was a wonderful compilation of updated old favorites. The atmosphere was just right as were the prices (£7 to £8 for those fantastic mains described above.)

The next time we’re in Fitzrovia, we’re heading straight for Lantana, and this time, we’re going to have some of that great coffee.

Lantana Café
13 Charlotte Place
London W1T1SN

Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Tea, Monday – Friday 8-6 and Saturday 9-5

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