Last weekend, W came to London for a night. Which really can mean only one thing: food.
Because her birthday is coming up, we planned a bit of a surprise for her. I ordered a gorgeous cake from L’Eto Caffe, and popped in to pick it up before dinner. The lady in L’Eto laughed when she saw what I had gotten written on the cake - pictures later! Wait for it! :D :D :D Anyway, as the cake was meant to be a surprise, I specifically brought my Celine out, because its massive square base and structured sides makes it the perfect vessel for carting around an entire boxed cake without arousing any suspicion.
After that, I skipped on down the road to Poland Street, as we had arranged to meet at Bodean’s. I love a good barbecue and Pitt Cue Co. does an amazing one but I don’t always fancy queuing for hours just to get in. Having said that, it’s not as if you can skip the queues at Bodean’s either, because you can’t, especially not on a Saturday night, but I would say that it’s not as bad. Plus, while waiting, you get to bask in the warm, cozy fug of barbecue and breathe in the scent of meat that hangs around the place like a thick, lazy, delicious cloud.
I arrived at about 645PM, put my name down for a table and was told that we had to wait until 730PM. Which was fine, really, because we got to sit outside under the heaters just catching up on one another’s lives. In fact, you can actually grab a drink at the bar while you wait inside, or on the benches outside until your name is yelled.
W said I literally sprung up in eggcitement when my name was yelled.
We sat in the deli section, which was packed, though there is the restaurant section downstairs as well that is reserved mainly for large groups. There were some seats facing the wall and, while I can understand the use of mirrors to make an enclosed space seem larger and more open, would I really want to watch myself while I’m eating barbecue?!?!?! Can’t tell you how awkward it was every time I looked up and saw someone watching me stuff my face – remember how I said I’m not a particularly pretty eater? In particular, there was this baby-faced man with small hands sat at the table opposite and he looked rather terrified as I tore away rather ferociously at my meat.
The ordering system here is very simple. Once you’ve perused the menu and made your choice, approach the bar/counter and place your order. You will have to pay on the spot, and make sure you retain your receipts because they may ask to look at them when they bring the food to your table. Do listen out for your number! We felt so bad for the wait staff, who were constantly yelling out numbers above the incredible noise.
We all loved the sweet potato fries, which were great with the homemade BBQ sauces provided in squeezy bottles on the tables.
And finally, while coleslaw is not a particularly interesting item, I find that it is strictly necessary here as an accompaniment. The cool creaminess and slight crunch of the coleslaw helps all that meat and potato go down a bit more easily.
We saw other people drinking milkshakes but couldn’t find it on the menu so I just asked at the counter and was told that they offer vanilla, chocolate and honeycomb milkshakes, so W got a honeycomb one.
They do have desserts here but we somehow managed to get out of there without having any, without arousing any supsicion on W‘s part, which was quite a feat.
Back home, we made her take a shower so we could get the surprise ready, and when she opened the door prematurely, I screamed at her and kind of fell out of the door to block her view into the room, bruising my knees in the process.
Which brings to mind this old favorite that you simply MUST play now that you’re reading this because it’s such a feel-good little ditty!
I had to resist the strong temptation to get the honey cake. Instead, I chose a chocolate cinnamon cake because the combination of chocolate and cinnamon is one of my favorites and it’s difficult to go wrong with a chocolate cake for a birthday.
The finished product was beautiful. I like simple designs and often eschew the garish in favor of dressed-down, understatedly elegant cakes, so this was perfect.
And now, the million-dollar question: What did I have piped on the cake?
‘You Go, Glen Coco’ – definitely the BEST line from Mean Girls.
As you may have noticed, the last ‘o’ in ‘Coco’ has been replaced by a Milkybar button. The cake had gotten a tiny bit smushed about while we were traipsing around central London, and we couldn’t give W a cake that said ‘You Go, Glen Coc‘, now, could we?? So in a sudden fit of inspiration we replaced it with a Milkybar button, et voila!’
And now, finally, we come to the morning after.
W had a train to catch so we trooped out to the nearby Salvation Jane to have breakfast.
Salvation Jane is the sister cafe of Lantana and while I’ve always known of its existence, I haven’t bothered to check it out because it hadn’t seemed necessary since their menus are more or less the same and I’d become very comfortable with Lantana over the years. Now, however, I think my loyalties may have shifted – not that it matters anyway, since they are part of the same group – and I’ll go out on a limb here and say I actually prefer SJ to Lantana.
There’s really only one reason though. See, what I like about SJ is that, while Lantana is rather stuffy and cramped, particularly when you dine on the basement level, SJ is bright, open and airy.
Now let’s talk about the grub.
Naturally, I had to get the toasted banana bread. You’ll remember it from this post so I shan’t go on about it. I’d thought I was clear enough when I ordered ‘the banana bread’ that I meant the banana bread, i.e. the toasted banana bread on the menu. But the waiter misunderstood me and brought me a slice of plain old banana bread instead. I managed to disguise my alarm though I was about to explode in a panic and told him I! wanted! the! toasted! one! in very measured, muted tones like the adult that I am. He very kindly rectified the situation, and said, as he set it down on the table, “You’re right, this one is so much better.”
This was the ‘hot smoked’ salmon on organic dark rye toast w poached eggs, chive creme fraiche and rocket (£11).
But this. This I was crazy about. I’ve tried the coconut French toast before at Lantana, and it’s so, so good, but this is even better, not least because I love maple anything.
I liked the bacon so much I decided that I would order a side of bacon just to see if would be the same. When I asked the server if it was the same, he just laughed and said yes, but I ordered some maple syrup on the side as well just to be safe.
Turn now to that special someone you love and repeat after me: You are the maple to my bacon.
On a side-note, we were talking about how most men working in cafes have beards. Perhaps there is a positive correlation between the amount of facial hair there is on the baristas and the quality of the coffee. Who knows. Maybe I could make better coffee if I had a beard… Oh wait, that’s sexist. And also borderline racist even, since Chinese people find it harder to grow facial hair, true story.
Mon-Sat: 12PM to 11PM
Sunday: 12PM to 1030PM