The Table is an all day restaurant open seven days a week from breakfast until late. Their menu is full of simple classics and I’d seen many amazing pictures of their food on social media so I couldn’t wait to go down and try it. Of course I chose to go for brunch and their menu included all of my favourites, plus a huge selection of waffles and pancakes for round two!
Despite having a slightly dodgy stomach, I went down the morning after getting back from my trip to South Africa/Zimbabwe – I’d landed at 5.30am, gone home to shower and freshen up and headed into London for brunch straight away – I’d seriously missed London’s incredible variety of food!
They don’t take bookings on weekends (and be warned they get very busy) but they’d reserved a table for us which meant we got to queue jump which was pretty cool. The decor is simple and lovely. It’s modern and feels airy, open and spacious thanks to the floor to ceiling glass windows letting in natural light – a food blogger’s dream 😉 They have a large space inside with long communal wooden benches and tables as well as an area with some individual tables – we got a little table for two complete with a pretty glass vase full of vibrant yellow daffodils. There’s an open kitchen area and a lovely outdoor seating area which I imagine would be beautiful when the weather is warmer. I was surprised how long the queue was but I watched it from our table (slightly guiltily!) and it moved fast. Ok.. I did a pretty terrible job of trying to photograph the inside but I didn’t want to be that creepy person taking pictures of other people and you get the gist.. it was packed!
Unlike a lot of “typical” brunch spots, they’ve gone down the half brunch/half lunch route (okay more like 80/20 – yay brunch!), with breakfast items on the left side of the menu and various burgers on the right side of the menu. When it came to ordering something sweet the waitress apologised that they didn’t have “traditional” sweet stuff like brownies and puddings – but personally I’d always choose waffles or pancakes as my sweet brunch course over a pudding given the choice! Doesn’t everyone!?
We started with flat whites. They serve All Press coffee and it was amazing. Beautifully smooth with a thin layer of velvety foam on top and it was lovely and strong too (Marcus agreed – I wasn’t just falsely influenced by the far too frequent weak/murky pondwater coffee from my trip to Africa!). I’m definitely becoming more and more of a coffee snob but this was the best coffee I’ve had for a long time.
For round one I went for the veggie breakfast. It was a seriously tough decision between that and the vegan breakfast but I can’t live without my eggs (and thought it would be pretty weird to add eggs as a side to a vegan breakfast!). I added avocado as a side to my breakfast anyway which was one of the very few subtle differences between the two 🙂
Marcus had the towering inferno – pretty much his dream combination! Homemade ham hock beans and chorizo on a bagel with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. We got a side of sweet potato wedges to share too. Considering how packed the place was, the food came surprisingly quickly. Contrary to other places where I hopefully watch endless plates pass my table it seemed we’d barely been waiting five minutes before our food arrived.
We absolutely loved our mains – mine had everything I want from a breakfast! The homemade beans were lovely, I was brought soft butter for my sourdough without having to ask (hallelujah!), the eggs were poached perfectly and the avocado was ripe and creamy, complete with a simple green dressing. The halloumi was beautifully charred from the grill and served in huge slabs – heaven!! The sweet potato wedges were crispy too but still lovely and soft on the inside. Even the spinach was tasty as it had a slight saltiness from the butter it was cooked in.
Marcus was equally delighted with his meal – my photos (as usual!) haven’t done it justice but it was a masterpiece! I don’t like chorizo but I tried the ham hock beans which were every bit delicious as they sound. I was surprisingly stuffed after my savoury course.. at least I felt it. In fairness I hadn’t been to bed so I hadn’t stopped eating for the last 30 hours (including an incredible airport lounge visit!) but even so I was surprised by how full I was and I felt pretty bloated too. Never one to miss out on a sweet option though we ordered pancakes to share for dessert. I was so excited – I love pancakes and I’ve had some pretty amazing ones in and around London 🙂
We had high hopes after such lovely coffee and savoury food. The sweet course was a completely different story though. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was quite possibly the worst pancake I have ever, ever had. Even though a lot of the places I blog about have been kind enough to offer me complimentary meals, I don’t like dishonesty and I just don’t feel like it’s fair or necessary to lie or twist the truth – writing a blog and telling you everything is amazing all of the time would be pointless! So here’s the truth – it was bloody awful. It was undercooked and soggy – so undercooked in fact that I’d go as far as to say it was raw. It was flat too – completely and utterly flat. Ironically I know pancakes are often described as flat but to me they should either be a paper thin crepe or a thick and fluffy buttermilk pancake; this was neither – a miserable attempt at somewhere in between that failed on all accounts. With some half warmed berries scattered on top (again, neither fresh nor a compote – a sorry somewhere in between) it was even more of a disaster. The already raw pancake was made even soggier by the berry juice – it almost disintegrated as soon as it was cut. The top of the pancake (the parts that weren’t covered in berry juice) was golden brown, but the millimetres of golden crispness were immediately overwhelmed by the soggy, raw middle. I’m trying to think of a texture to compare it to but I can’t – perhaps a mushy watery flan, but even that holds its shape. There was nothing to chew at all, it was like baby food.
The toppings too were poor. To ruin a classic like berries, maple syrup and caramelised nuts is a truly remarkable feat, yet they managed it. The berries included blackcurrants and redcurrants which were unbearably sour – they couldn’t even be rescued by the maple syrup – and whilst I don’t have a problem with them not being made into a compote (even though I personally would’ve preferred them that way), they were served cold yet still somehow oozing some horribly sour juice.
The caramelised pecans were the most surprising. I absolutely love caramelised nuts. How can anyone not love their fatty, sugary goodness!? I stock up enough at Christmas to eat them all year round for goodness’ sake! Yet these were quite literally inedible. They were so unbearably bitter that I was close to spitting them out. I honestly don’t think I could make nuts taste that bad if I tried. To roast nuts, coat them in sugar and arrive at an end product so unpalatable is an achievement beyond comprehension.
They do also serve waffles and French toast which could be better – I can’t say, but given that pancakes are usually my absolute favourite (and French toast is usually a little soggy at the best of times; one of the reasons its a firm last choice for me when it comes to sweet brunch options!) I didn’t feel inclined to order another to try.
Instead we headed out to find sweet stuff elsewhere 🙂 Thankfully my tummy had stopped cramping, I felt a lot better and so we wandered round to the local markets to satisfy our (rather large!) sugary cravings. It’s in a lovely location which is only a short walk to Borough market and Maltby street market where there are so many incredible cakes and baked items. For such a small market, Maltby Street has an incredible number of stalls – there are waffles, an Asian donut/waffle/cake hybrid, St John’s bakery donuts and the Dragon’s Den famous Bad Brownie. Borough Market is probably one of my favourite markets in London, with a ridiculous number of stalls selling type of cake, brownie and cookie you could dream of, as well as the well known Kontidor and Cook cake shop, artisan chocolate stalls and a Hotel Chocolat cafe. Despite our bad experience with the sweet options, I’d still recommend going there as their savoury food was lovely, their coffee was amazing and it was a lovely space with a great atmosphere. Much as I love street food I find markets can be chaotic and I love to sit down and relax with a good cup of coffee so for me an ideal combination would be a savoury brunch course and coffee at The Table followed by all the desserts at the markets nearby! 🙂
Link to their website: http://www.thetablecafe.com/menu