Today is one of those gorgeous crisp winter days in London that make me really want to go for a walk in one of the gorgeous parks we have dotted about the city. Being Highgate, I am more familiar with the eastern fringes of Hampstead Heath, but before I trashed my ankle I spent a few weeks working over near Belsize Park, and got to try out some of the cafes and restaurants on Haverstock Hill and Englands Lane, handy not only for The Heath but las a stone’s throw from Primrose Hill, which on a day like today has a stunning view out over London.
One of my favourite picks on Englands Lane was Ginger & White, a buzzy cafe with great coffee and some nice gluten free options. I visited a few times for take-away and to eat in. On my first visit it was a really busy weekend brunch service, and rather than waiting to get a seat, I opted to take away. I chose smashed avocado on toast with herby tomatoes and feta, and made it very clear that it needed to be gluten free. There was a mistake with my order, and it had been made with regular bread… If only gluten free bread could look that good! I have learned my lesson to double check food long ago. Although this was a bit of a bad footing to start off on, the staff were very apologetic, spoke with the kitchen about the problem and my order was remade for me. Mistakes happen, and being gracious when addressing and fixing them helps!
The meal itself? It was a really tasty vegetarian brunch option (it was also possible to go vegan and have it without the feta), and the kind of thing I like to make for myself, with a good, liberal sprinkle of chilli flakes. The avocado was joyfully creamy and plentiful, the tomatoes were sweet from roasting any fully of herby flavour, and the feta was salty and sharp. The gluten free bread was a decent white sourdough style toast, and though I would rarely choose white bread myself, I have no complaints! The coffee I ordered, a black Americano, made with a blend from Square Mile Coffee Roasters was really good.
In spite of the near miss I wanted to give them another go, so I went back on a weekday lunchtime, when I was quieter and I opted to eat in. I had my eye on the bubble and squeak special, topped with a poached egg, but unfortunately the bubble came coated with breadcrumbs so was off limits. I had by now got the wants for poached eggs so I went for gluten free toast, smoked salmon, poached eggs and some more of the tasty smashed avo. It all tasted great, Ginger & White seem to have taken a lot of care in sourcing their ingredients, and these perfectly poached eggs were proof in point! Yes, again I would have preferred a dark or seeded GF toast to the white one but it is far from a deal breaker. Again a really good gluten free brunch, and a really good coffee.
I week or so later I popped in to get some coffee and a cake to go, I chose their gluten free passionfruit cake, which tasted like a delicious cakey solero, with creamy, sweet, fruity and sharp flavours ticking every box. Full points for them also using fresh utensils to grab my cake for me! All washed down with another reliably good black Americano, and when you are a black coffee drinker, a good coffee blend prepared by a skilled barista is a MUST, (I have had too many burned and bitter coffees to mention) which wins these guys another big tick from me.
As I was popping in for a solo lunch or snack during my workday I didn’t get to try any of the wines that have on offer, and would love to visit “off duty” next time! If you are in the area and looking for a good place to get a healthy, fresh, tasty brunch I totally recommend this place, as with dining in a mixed restaurant as opposed to somewhere exclusively gluten free it always pays to double check your order, but the service staff here were really helpful, and the coffee is excellent. They also have another site, their original branch in Hampstead, which is tempting me to pay a visit to the dark side of the Heath once the rubbish ankle is fixed!