Lantana was one of those cafe’s that I frequented much last year but never got around to writing about. Nestled along a tiny street tucked away in London’s Fitzrovia it lent a bohemian feeling perfect for a spot of brunch, reminiscent of holidays past in the all too few sunshine months. On each of my visits the little cafe was packed to the rafters, full of happy brunchers, hustling, bustling and bursting with atmophere; that atmosphere evocative of many Australian cafes, brilliant and chaotic and charismatic. The cafe itself, tiny and beguiling in it’s almost unfinished looking state; a beautifully ornate black and white mural dipicting an organic scene adorns the back wall, prime seats are, on clement afternoons, one of the two benches on the space outside, or failing that at the window bar seat with a notebook and a view of the weather. The Service was often a little haphazard, and although the coffee was never my favourite in London, the staff were always friendly and the food incredible. When I heard they were opening a second, it immediately jumped to the top of my ‘must visit’ list.
Salvation Jane is Lantana all grown up; her hotter, older sister, full promise realised. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting, but I’m slightly blown away with this large, polished and finished looking space; it really is gorgeous. Set out in a similar way to their first, the front of the shop is an informal take away cafe, in the same way that Lantana has their In and Out, whilst the room then opens up past an impressive cake bedecked, spirit enhanced, coffee laced bar, past the kitchen and serving pass to a large 60 ish seater restaurant. The room is the embodiment of paired back, unnaffected elegance, it’s a relaxed and comfortable space that retains the charm of the former yet utilises the cafes full potential; the mural is still evident on the far back wall, fresh flowers keep the feel organic, and there are the usual quirky touches in the form of cute sugar bowls, but the overall feeling is more pulled together, slick, and yes, grown up.
My Sunday visit this past weekend finds the cafe still in it’s first week, and at 2.30pm it’s quietly buzzing with a small crowd that barely fills the room, I can’t imagine that’ll be the case in a few weeks time as news gets out. Salvation Jane joins a veritable throng of exciting new ventures around Old Street; just around the corner from New Zealand newcomer Ozone Coffee, opposite Meter Bar and Eatery, and just a few minutes stroll from Dunnefrankowski at Protein gallery, as well as plenty of more established cafes and coffee shops, it’s become quite a hotspot. I start, as you might expect, with a coffee, there doesn’t appear to be any filter on the menu so I have an espresso, the red brick by Square Mile is excellent, and as good as I’ve ever had it.
My food decision I find slightly harder, the brunch menu is a perfect selection of sweet and savoury options in a similar vein to those other favourite brunch haunts of St Ali and Caravan. I’ve had some of the dishes in similar incarnations at Lantana so just go for the what I fancy option rather than feeling the need to try anything in particular. I have, an extremely rare for me, faint hangover, I generally manage to dodge the downsides of extreme alcohol consumpion, it’s still not particularly cumbersome, just one of those lingering headachey, parched mouth, slightly off days that calls for bacon and carbs. The BERT looks just the thing; plenty of crispy bacon, sliced tomato, fried egg, piles of rocket all drenched in aioli and sandwiched between Gails Bakery sourdough; it delivers everything a good bacon sarnie should and more. I add baked mushrooms just ’cause, also the sandwich is a bit of a mouthful as a whole so I eat it as an open top and utilise the lid by serving with the mushrooms for a whole extra dish; clever me. Win.
I spot a tempting display of baked goods as I walk past the bar and despite being pretty stuffed at this point I can’t resist trying the cherry ripe slice, this I secrete in my handbag, for eating later. In fact I’m just munching it now and it’s a great interpretation of the classic Aussie chocolate bar created in-house; salty short biscuit base tempers a sweet, vivid cerise, coconut and cherry filling that’s topped with a dark chocolate ganache. Dessert just as I like them, hearty and stodgy and sweet; it’s ace.
I intend to return pronto for an evening visit; the cafe offers a good looking small plates menu with plenty of wines and cocktails on offer too, I’m intrigued by the intoxicating sounding ‘Patterson’s Curse’, a play on the cafe’s name which is apparantly a very pretty Australian weed.
Cocktails in coffee shops is definitely my current favourite (small) trends. Salvation Jane has a LOT going for her and in my opinion is one of the hottest openings of the year so far. Get down there while you can still get a seat!