Spring Treats to Look Out for in London Cafes

The sun’s out, the blossoms are blooming, and it seems we finally may have seen the last of winter. But just because the new season is here doesn’t mean you need to miss out on comfort food in London. With change in the air, now is the time to head out to a cosy café — it’s still a bit risky to venture into picnic territory. Luckily, cafés are hard at work creating innovative, tasty, fresh delights in the capital of creative food. Spring into spring with these delightful London café treats. And the best news? None of these need break the budget — the Michelin-starred restaurants can wait!

Chill Out

Now the days are warming up it’s time for your coffee to cool down. Iced coffees have come a long way from the sugary, whipped cream versions of yesteryear — not that there’s anything wrong with those if it’s your bag! Ask for a cold brew coffee and you’ll likely find yourself pleasantly surprised with a full cup of complex flavour notes designed for low-temperature drinking. Or, if you like it sweet, a granita might be more your thing. A happy medley between a sorbet and an espresso, you’ll be cooled off and pepped up all at once. Connoisseurs tell us that the flavour notes of coffee come through best in a cold brew — the best way to find out is to try for yourself!

Granovelty

This Spring granola has come to the fore in London café breakfasts, with many establishments making their own signature granola on-site. Forget dusty old oats gone soggy in milk; granola is now sophisticated and worldly, and a bowl can feature pecans, pistachios, crystallised ginger, dried fruit such as pear and mango, and sprouted oats crisped in pure maple syrup. With the addition of a high-end yoghurt (coconut kefir with Tahitian vanilla! Buffalo milk yoghurt with freeze-dried blackcurrant! Fermented nut yoghurt!), drizzles of honey, and an exotic goat or coconut milk, granola is the fast-rising star of café breakfasts for 2017. If you’re really on a health buzz, look out for unusual grains such as buckwheat that have been sprouted and then dehydrated for maximum nutritional benefit. But remember: taste comes first!

Best Served Cold

Speaking of being cool, chilled café lunches really come into their own in the changing weather of springtime. You can always go for a salad, of course, but other cold dishes offer the calming nature of comfort food without being heated. For guaranteed deliciousness try ceviche — fresh raw fish cured in lime or lemon juice and served with chilli and coriander. Cold-smoked fish, such as salmon, can also be soothing and refreshing on the palate. Even soup can be dished up cold in the form of gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup from Southern Spain, or vichyssoise, a French leek soup traditionally served froid. There are also exciting things happening in the space of raw food, so look out for experimental treats such as chilled cashew nut alfredo sauce, or avocado-based soups.

New Lamb

A true classic, new lamb never tastes better than in spring. Think gentle flavours such as fragrant mint, washed down with a glass of light red wine (Lambrusco anyone?). Many cultural cuisines honour the new spring season with a lamb dish, including the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and France. In the United Kingdom the best lamb is always free range and as locally sourced as possible, but can also hail from Scotland, or perhaps even New Zealand. For a high-end London café Saturday lunch, look out for lamb cutlets. Served on the rare side, rosy and pink, this spring treat dish is best eaten around April or May.

Eye Candy

Feasts for the eyes as well as the tastebuds, visually appealing dishes are popping up everywhere in London. Rainbow-coloured food is a worldwide trend, encompassing bagels, marbled cakes, cocktails, and even vegetables, such as coloured cauliflowers and carrots (did you know, for example, that carrots were originally purple, and that black, white, purple, yellow, and red cultivars are available?). Or brighten your plate with edible flower garnishes such as pansies, nasturtiums and marigolds — especially right in springtime. Fancy something a little more opulent and less botanical? Eye-catching edible gold is now being scattered across brownies and popcorn and gilting biscuits, creating treats that are fanciful, luxurious, and utterly Instagrammable.

Lighten Up

One of best thing about lighter spring lunches is that they leave plenty of room for afters! In springtime, even desserts need not be heavy. Our current fave is a Genoise sponge, which is an airy, low-butter sponge cake made with cream and seasonal fruits such as apricot, rhubarb, and lychee. Treat yourself to a trifle or two.

Sunny Courtyards

Okay, so one this isn’t quite culinary, but after a long winter everyone has an appetite for sunshine. One of the best ways to enjoy London cafés in spring is to ditch the office (or bring the laptop if you must!) and find a cafe with a sunny courtyard or corner to get a dose of vitamin D. Sip on your drink (a matcha green tea, if you’ve got your finger on the beverage pulse) and soak up some rays. Many London cafés have quiet outdoor spaces full of green plants and trailing vines, just waiting to be explored. By the way, rooftops and conservatory-style areas work too.

Splash Out

Just when you think you’ve tried it all in terms of teas, juices, coffees, smoothies, and shakes, the spring season of 2017 brings more cold drinks than ever before. London cafés are now offering drinks as varied as turmeric lattes, kombucha (fermented iced tea), and quinoa milkshakes. But the trendiest (and healthiest) unusual drink prize has to go to: you guessed it, matcha. This special variety of green tea is appearing in every possible form, from matcha ice cream, to green noodles, confectionery, lattes, and mo

Classic British Foods You Must Try When Travelling to UK

A visit to the UK will not be complete without savouring the staples of British cuisine. Some British foods, like Fish and Chips or a Full English Breakfast hardly need any introduction. British gastronomy is as abundant as the country’s cultural heritage. You can find great seafood on the coast, seriously good quality meat and definitely a lot of good British ale to accompany your meal with.
  1. Full English breakfast

    No better way to start the day than a sturdy breakfast. Eggs – check, beans – check, hash brown – check and of course some crunchy bacon too. A good fry-up is all you need to layer your toasted bread with and a grand appetite should not be missing. Try to find a full English breakfast at a local, neighbourhood cafe.
  1. Fish and chips

    Fish and chips is famous across the globe for the light and crunchy coat of butter. A delicious piece of fried cod comes with a handful of freshly cooked chips and optionally with mushy peas. Try it, the British way, with a generous helping of salt and vinegar on your chips.
  2. British beef – Steak and kidney pie

    British beef has a very proud tradition. There are six classic British beef breeds that have been exported across the hemisphere and nowhere can the heifers be better fed than the rolling fields of Britain. If corned beef sandwich is the first thing the springs to mind, wait until you try it in a roast or better still in a pie. Slowly cooked diced beef and diced kidney, a generous helping of brown gravy with fried onions all cased in flaky pastry, this is what steak and kidney pie is about. This pie makes the ultimate comfort food on a cold day.
  3. Scotch eggs

    The Scotch egg was invented by Fortnum and Mason back in the days of horse-drawn carriages. It is one of the quintessential British foods that hardly need an introduction: a hardboiled egg wrapped in minced meat and a crunchy crust. This might be just the thing you are looking for to continue with a busy day out. This is the traditional version; look out for the modern ones with great new twists.
  4. Sunday roast with mint jelly and Yorkshire pudding

    There is nothing that signals better British than the Sunday roast. Pubs nowadays have exquisite menus for Sunday lunches. Look out for roast beef or roast lamb with mint jelly. These both come with Yorkshire pudding. Don’t be fooled, this pudding is no dessert but pastry puffs like no other.
  5. Bangers and mash

    There are many types of sausages to seek out for apart from classic flavours. Pork sausages with bramley apples or with leeks and chives and the long round Cumberland sausages are three special sausages worth trying out. You can have them with mash potatoes – as in bangers and mash or you can enjoy a good British sausage in toad in a hole, with flaky pastry.
  6. Cottage pie or Shepherds pie

    Cottage pie or Shepherd’s pie is one of the most homely of British foods. This pie, it is not encased in pastry like the steak and kidney pie. It simply has a scrumptious mince meat sauce, with peas and carrots and it is layered with lavish mash potatoes on top. There is a difference between cottage and Shepherd’s pie. In the first you will find beef mince whilst in the latter lamb’s mince. They are equally delicious and certainly a good call after a long day.
  7. Ploughman’s lunch

    Beer, bread, and cheese have been combined in the English diet as far as anyone can remember. For a ploughman’s lunch you only need a few ingredients at hand: a nice slice of bread some good cheddar and a fine, sharp onion pickle. This simple dish has been served to travellers at the inns for centuries. Its name however is relatively more recent. This sandwich was baptised as Ploughman’s lunch in the 1950s in an attempt to promote British cheese. It stayed on for good reason; it’s a very satisfying and filling snack to have when on the go.
  8. Afternoon tea

    No visit to the UK would be complete without afternoon tea. What is afternoon tea? Well, it is a mini-meal enjoyed in early afternoon, started back at the mid 19th century with many tea rooms operated across the country. It is however much more than a quick meal, afternoon tea is a ritual of the teapot and strainer, a separate jug of milk and tinkling spoons. Afternoon tea is quality time, a way to stop and relax. Along with your tea you will have soft sandwiches, cut in fingers, scones and clotted cream and dainty pastries. Nowadays it is often accompanied by champagne if you want to make it a little more special and is certainly a winner if you need a snack before heading to the theatre.
  9. The Food markets

    Once you have covered the basics as mentioned above, chances are you might be into something new. Head to the markets to walk among sellers of fresh produce and grab a bite on the go. In neighbourhoods the farmers markets are organised weekly and most likely you will find the array of stalls waiting for you during the weekend. If in London, there is the emblematic Borough Market at London Bridge. Chances are you will be mesmerised by the great quality British foods and you will definitely find something you have not tasted before.