I would put this down as one of my most disappointing brunches in London to date in London. My morning at No. 32 The Old Town left me well and truly disgruntled. Thank goodness every cloud has a silver lining and just a hop, skip and a jump further down the road I found Tart, a beautiful bakery for another day.
Open kitchens are all very well and good until hearing the person across from you is a struggle and you leave smelling like a charred piece of toast. I could completely forgive this if the food had been worth it but this is a new one for me… I didn’t even want to take photos of the dishes we were served. They didn’t seem to justify remembrance. Quite frankly they were pretty ugly.
I do try not to judge a book by it’s cover but sadly it’s hard for a dish to redeem itself when, after a considerable wait, it arrives looking the state it did. I had ordered the ricotta pancakes with poached rhubarb and maple crème fraîche. When you’re anticipating a pretty pink summer’s dish, the arrival of an insipid, greenish slop of soggy pancakes swimming in syrup and on a smeared plate doesn’t quite cut the mustard. The syrup was fairly tasty but overly sweet and, as I say, reduced the pancakes to mush.
Across from me the eggs benedict was no better. For nine pounds a pop a measly, matchbox-sized wafer of salmon, I mean truly tiny, with barely a quarter of an avocado and an underwhelming egg atop one thin slice of bread is pretty shameful.
Any other day (and certainly if it were me served the shockingly stingy portion of salmon) I would probably have complained. It’s not normally in me but that’s how taken aback I was.
However… I did say there was an upside. Pretty peeved but not wanting to go too far in the pouring rain, we made a quick pit stop at Tart. The dishes here and the poor excuse for brunch we had just consumed were chalk and cheese. Unpretentious, vibrant and wholesome, everything we spied around us was infinitely more tasty looking and cheaper to boot. The eponymous tarts were pretty as a picture and the flavour of one as tempting a combination as the next.
They offer a picnic hamper service so that you could enjoy your treats on the common in the sunshine. It’s a shame we didn’t have tummy space to spare having literally just finished but this is definitely a destination I plan on returning to very, very soon.