Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Riding House Café

Sunday mornings.

Usually made for lingering a little late in bed, in recovery from the night before, with only an aim to meet friends for a leisurely brunch for physical restoration and psychological repentance with a Bloody Mary and a post-game analysis of Saturday's shenanigans.

So when I flung open the curtains, letting the sunshine stream into my room and gulping a breath of still-damp air, I felt decidedly smug about the first quiet night I had managed to save for Saturday in far too long. It was a somewhat unsettling feeling ("I feel good. I feel GOOD. Weird."), but a smugness that gave me strength to feel like I could conquer the world, and, more importantly, strength to lug home enough vegetables to feed a Californian commune for a month. I got a coffee! Did my market shop! I was finally one of those productive people! Sunday mornings are the best!

And with a requisite brunch in the diary, things could only get better.

I had been meaning to trot over to The Riding House Café for ages, especially as it is unforgiveably close to work, so when a few of us put a Sunday brunch in the diary I directed the date in that direction. As the owners also run brunch favorites perfect-pub The Garrison and slightly-more-upscale Village East, both in Bermondsey, I knew it would be a good morning egg.

I cycled over (smuggity smug smug) a little early so I could grab a quiet coffee before the deluge of in-depth analyses and general catching up (it had been a few days, after all). And I don't know if it was because I was still riding on a caffeine and productivity high, but the second I sunk into the sun-drenched leather banquette, I decided that I was The Happiest Person on Earth.

The owners clearly know a thing or about interiors from experience at their other establishments, but this more urban offering was exceptional. The long central bar and parallel communal table, packed with people reading papers over flat whites, give the place a pleasant buzz, while smaller tables are set along the windows running the length of the space. We were in the more sleek side room, which was flooded with light, setting off the polished but casual décor. The NY-standard rustic-chic setting, with dark wood lightened with orange leather and playful touches like taxidermy wall sconces, would be equally optimal for an evening drink or dinner. I guess that needs confirming, huh.

(In case you were wondering, the rogue squirrel above is not in search of stolen granola but in fact part of the light fixtures as mentioned.)

As if by magic, my friends appeared in the same state - blissed out from early evenings. So, all feeling virtuous, we kicked off with a round of fresh juices and went for some light choices, although my eye almost started twitching from concentration not to order the choritzo hash browns ("They have a poached egg! That's healthy right?") and don't even get me started on a chocolate, espresso, and banana milkshake charmingly served in a milk bottle. Between us, we got bircher muesli, "Titchfield" granola, and avocado on toast with a side of baked beans.

The bircher muesli was inexplicably made with milk and a bit soupy, but my granola was everything a granola should be, and this coming from a granny-head (if I may) - it was crunchy, with decent sized clusters, scattered with seeds and dried fruit, and just sweet enough when mixed with grated apple and a drizzle of honey. Avocado smashed on toast is one of life's simple pleasures, and this iteration had my own addition of chilli flakes. Always a good sign.

So we sipped and chatted and drizzled and chatted and crunched and chatted our way though a surprisingly sunny Sunday (pathetic fallacy, eh?), putting the world to right.

All I know is I'll be back - whether to test my theory that the place is perfect for drinks and dinner, or on another smug Sunday.

And I'll be getting the choritzo and chocolate.

The Riding House Café
51 Great Titchfield St, FitzroviaW1W 7PQ

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