Freelance writer and wanderer always on the lookout for quirky activities that take you off the beaten track.
Published November 18th 2011
The UK is filled to the brim with Australian and New Zealand expats, and with the invasion of the Walkabout Pub and the humble woolly ugg, you can't help but feel that they might be starting to take over.
But there's yet another "Down Under" trend popping up in London, and this one is something that you can very much be thankful for; the Australian/New Zealand café. Antipodean know-how and cheeriness is starting to invigorate London's coffee landscape, especially in the midst of the thousands of bombastic Starbucks and Costa's, with their oft-burnt coffee or sickly sweetened lattes. For a real Melbourne or Perth-inspired coffee, with its rich flavours and perfectly warmed milk, venture no further than Lantana, a cozy café in Fitzrovia.
Located right in the heart of London, this trendy little café not only has nice outdoor seating and a cool fit-out but also the best damn breakfast I've ever had in London – and maybe even just ever. Chose from the brioche French toast, Scottish smoked salmon and poached eggs or slow cooked Boston baked beans, among many other exciting menu choices. There's certainly a lot more on offer than just runny eggs and chips! The times I've been there they've always had a fantastic soundtrack (twice now I've had to ask for the name of the band, so I can download it later) and the people that work there are chirpy and chic.
But I digress, it's the coffee that really makes or breaks a place like this. And let me tell you, I'd doubt it would ever break it; their cappuccinos and macchiatos are strong and delicious and always the perfect temperature (a must for any serious coffee connoisseur). The coffees are made with care and taste as vibrant and fresh and the atmosphere of the café itself. You can also tell that the baristas are as mad about coffee as they can get.
Sometime you may be hard pressed to find a seat in the café, but fear not; right next door is the Lantana "out" which is open for longer hours and the perfect cure for those short on time or on the move. The takeaway coffees are just as lovely as the ones served to seated customers; unlike some flavourless, watery paper cup versions in other cafes.
Plonked in the middle of a very busy district, this homely little café is perfect to pop into on your way to work, lounge about in with friends, sit with a laptop or a good book, or pop into on your way to finding a bargain on Oxford Street.
If you suspend your belief for the moment, you could be sitting in a riverside café in Fremantle, Western Australia or a coffee house in one of Melbourne's many windy alleyways. Lantana feels extremely genuine, and the food and coffee is to die for. Jump on the antipodean bandwagon and check it out for yourself!