Weekend brunch dishes from £4-8, weekday lunch dishes from £2.85-7.70
Thank u v much twitter 4 ur gr8 recm’dation!
A few months ago, when I first began my journey into the world of twitter, I saw that one of my twitter foodie ‘friends’ was following a place called The Table Cafe (TTC) near Southwark Bridge on the South side of the Thames. I read some of their tweets and was impressed with their daily changing menu. I vaguely remember looking at their website too and noting their seemingly meticulous selection of suppliers, which ticked a lot of boxes (local, organic, etc.). Plus, they listed Monmouth as their coffee supplier, which is a good thing in my book. I kept telling myself the next time I was in that neighborhood (which is very rare), I must drop by and see what it was all about.
Mrs. LF and I were headed to Borough Market last Saturday to buy some pork from Peter Gott’s Sillfield Farm. This is so far the best pork in London I’ve had in the UK, which I first had at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen a few months back – see here, and especially comments from Peter at bottom of the post. Given that we would be in the general vicinity of TTC, I thought we could stop by there for brunch en route – and we did.
Welcome to Sweden, can I take your order
Walking into TTC, I felt as if I was entering someplace very familiar, but not exactly British. As far as I understand, TTC functions as the canteen for the firm of architects whose ground floor it inhabits (as well as the nearby office buildings). The exterior of the building is mostly glass, accented with angular flashes of bright yellow. Once inside, the clean modern lines and the use of simple and warm wood tables and benches immediately made both of us think of Scandinavia, and Sweden in particular for me. In fact, quite disturbingly, it reminds me of a particular haunt of mine in Stockholm.
The fairly modest square room is replete with red rectangular sheets of metal on the ceiling, a long and narrow kitchen, a stock room that is half on display, a stainless steel espresso machine, and a wooden table on top of which some assorted juices, cereals, milks and fruits lay ready and waiting. As you can see from the photos below, cutlery and napkins are provided on the tables and the place settings are the paper menus. You order at the counter.
The credit crunch brunch
I would hazard to guess that TTC’s main business is the weekday lunch crowd, and for that they have a daily changing menu which sounds pretty good and is amazing value with dishes from £2.85 (for a Spanish Tortilla made with free range eggs, heritage potatoes and sautéed white onion) upward. I say ‘amazing’ value because even the most expensive dishes (just under £8) are made from very high quality ingredients and seem very hearty.
One of the staff members said they’ve only started opening on the weekends in the last few months and are still not set on exactly what times they should open for and what menu they should use (i.e. should it just be brunch all day, or brunch then lunch, etc.?). On our visit, the weekend brunch menu was available. It sounded very appetizing and, if any good, would be much better value than most places offering similar brunch menus in the West End.
We made our decisions and sat back and waited for the food to arrive over a cup of tea. It was a Twinning’s tea bag of Earl Grey by the way, which was surprising as all of their other suppliers seem to be so carefully chosen. But I like their Earl Grey the best of the major brands, so no complaints.
After a good ten minutes, one of the chefs brought out the still hot plates to our table. We were a bit giddy as it looked like American sized portions, and visually both plates held a lot of promise.
Mrs LF said the following about her breakfast stack: “The toasted bagel was an original alternative to muffins, which are usually associated with poached eggs with hollandaise sauce. In this dish, the eggs were perfectly poached with a beautiful orangey yellow yolk as it was split open. The homemade baked beans were yummy, perfectly done and very special; how many places bother making their own baked beans these days? When it comes to baked beans, I tend to like Heinz, actually! But these were as much more delicious and satisfying. The hollandaise sauce was excellent in terms of taste (creamy and with the right amount of tang) and consistency. The chorizo sausage, however, didn’t stand out (maybe they forgot to put it in?) as I don’t actually remember eating it. Overall, it was very different compared to the breakfast we usually have at our favorite brunch places, which all tend to have the same items on the menu: English Breakfast, Eggs Benedict and so on.” 8/10.
My pancake looked and smelled beautiful. And I certainly wasn’t let down by the taste either. The large and very thin pancake had been cooked through exactly right: the edges were slightly crispy and the middle was soft and fluffy but not at all doughy. The sweetness of the maple syrup and caramelized bananas contrasted well with the saltiness of the extremely crisp and thin streaky bacon. I know this is a very American flavor combination, and I personally love it, although I can understand how some people are not the greatest fans of the extreme sweet and salty combination for breakfast food. For me it all worked together perfectly, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. 8/10.
Well worth the detour
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at TTC. It had a nice, laid back vibe and the food was well sourced, honest, wholesome and satisfying – with nice little twists to many of the dishes on the menu. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who lives in the area or anyone who might be passing by the neighborhood on the weekend and fancies a good brunch. In fact, we are thinking of taking our nephew there when he next visits from France. If I worked in the area, I would certainly be down there most days if the weekday food is anywhere near as good as the brunch and seems to represent great value for money.
By the way, in case you are curious, we slow-cooked the pork we got from Borough Market for about 5 hours and it was to die for. So full of flavor, perfectly crispy crackling, and served with cooked and slightly sweetened red cabbage and cooked apples.
Service: n/a (self-service, order at the counter)
For more about my rating scale, click here.
*Note: I have only dined at The Table Cafe once for weekend brunch. Hey, that sort of rhymed!*