London’s Best Avocado Toast
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
With reports that we’re entering a national avocado crisis, you’d think London’s days of nursing a hangover with a plate of avo on sourdough would be numbered.
However, the brunch stalwart, rumoured to have started its journey in Australia and later to be popularised by NYC’s Café Gitane, shows no sign of being banished from menus across the capital.
Whether it’s the healthy vibes of those good fats, the gosh-darn-gram-ability of that pale green, or the childish glee procured from eating a food that’s been smashed, we can’t get enough of it; from smearing it on plain old sourdough to tarting it up with chilli flakes and fancy olive oil, like a pageant queen primed for performance.
So, brunch with abandon London; just don’t blame us if your favourite fruit soon becomes forbidden.
Best for… The Cool Dad
The grand dame of industrial chic, which started out life as an indie in Clerkenwell, has now birthed two offspring: one in King’s Cross and one in Bankside. Known for excellent coffee, a nonchalant, Middle Eastern inflected menu and long waits for tables, Caravan couldn’t deign to call itself an Aussie brunch spot if it didn’t have a good avocado toast.
Here, they stick to the most tried and tested method: sourdough or grain toast is topped with big chunks of avocado, and spruced up with flecks of chilli, lemon and a glug of olive oil. Topped with a poached egg, and accompanied with one of their small batch, freshly roasted flat whites, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a fuss-free brunch. We also can’t resist a slice of their coconut bread with lemon and strawberries. For the table. Don’t judge.
Caravan, 11-13 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD
Best for… your #fitspo friend
Healthy Stuff Dalston
Your Sunday morning run in Victoria Park has finished, and you’re feeling suitably virtuous after passing friends in a near-crawl towards Towpath Cafe. Where do you head for a smug refuel? The aptly named Healthy Stuff in Dalston. This cutesy cafe-cum-healthfood-shop can be found nestled on Dalston Lane, pretty much equidistant between London Fields and Hackney Downs. Don’t let the name fool you – there may be juices and smoothies, but this isn’t your grandma’s health food shop.
Healthy Stuff’s avo is well-mushed, served with a salty kick from Maldon sea salt, chilli flakes and feta, or, for something slightly more unusual, top with smoked salmon, furikake seasoning and toasted sesame oil to add a little omega 3 to your morning. We give them extra snaps for using the much-beloved E5 Bakehouse sourdough.
Healthy Stuff, 168 Dalston Lane, E8 1NG
Best for… third-wave brunchers
They know their Monmouth coffee from their Climpson and Sons, and think nothing of waiting an hour for The Good Egg, so how do you impress a bruncher-in-the-know?
We’ve spent many a late night wedged near the piano of Tony Conigliaro’s jewel-box cocktail spot, 69 Colebrooke Row, so were more than delighted when he opened the equally elusively named Untitled, based on Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory.
Conigliaro’s now branching out into food, featuring Japanese small plates from an ex-El Bulli chef, and their brunch menu is particularly forward. Avo here is served grilled (yeah, we know, but trust us), with tamari soy, sesame and miso buttered toast. For less than a fiver it totally wins on both price and originality, plus the décor will make you feel like you’re in 1970’s New York. Take that, brunch snobs!
Untitled, 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH
Best for: The Homesick Aussie
If we ever find ourselves on the hook for Aussie mates dreaming of Bondi Beach, we take them to Lantana Cafe. Started in 2008 by a trio of actual, homesick Aussies, the laid-back cafe has now grown to three sites: Old Street, Shoreditch and Camden. The avocado toast here gets points for originality, leaning towards the middle eastern, with creamy labneh and an earthy crunch from hazelnut and dukkah.
In true millennial style you can customise it with the addition of bacon, halloumi or beetroot cured salmon. Or go for all three! Who are we to comment? The extra addition of chilli jam may be a little OTT on a weak stomach but adds a sweetness which works particularly well with the halloumi. For £35 you can also go bottomless, with unlimited Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, Prosecco and coffee, but set your timers lads, a strict one and a half hour time limit applies.
Lantana Cafe, see website for locations
Best for… hanging out with the girls
Granger & Co.
Another Aussie contender to make the list, Granger & Co. is the genesis of grinning Sydney-sider Bill Granger, whose chirpy form has often graced our guilty Food Network binges. The all-day brasseries are much prettier than they need to be; light and airy spaces in a cool palate of marble, brushed gold and millennial pink – perfect for lengthy brunches over Prosecco.
In typical Aussie style, the menu is pan-global, but with the avocado toast we’re on safe ground. Toasted rye (look guys, there IS a bread that’s not sourdough!) is simply topped with thick slices of avocado and the zingy additions of lime, chilli flakes and plenty of fresh coriander. Eat with a green goddess smoothie on the side (green pear, avocado, greens and chlorophyll), and suddenly all is right with the world.
Granger & Co., see website for locations
Best for: Mums who brunch
Highgate Mums rejoice; you can get your gossip and your avocado toast, all in one place! Greenberry Café has been keeping the gentle folk of Primrose Hill in post-TriYoga poached eggs for years now, making them a stable a destination for north London brunch seekers. The pretty all-day cafe occupies prime real estate on Regents Park Road and is always bustling, with their speckle of outside tables first to fill up with owners and their trophy dogs (we admit it; we come for the dogs as much as the food).
Weekend brunch is firmly no-reservations, but the avocado toast is worth the wait. The avocado here is rough chopped, and served on a thick spread of sweet potato hummus and a coarse dukkah blend, which lends a welcome crunch. Bread comes as sourdough or Wild Thexton’s gluten free for an extra 50p. At £9.50 it’s not the cheapest in the mix, but it’s worth it, just to hear the truth about what little Finbar’s mum did at the charity tennis match.
Greenberry Cafe, 101 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 8UR
Best for… ageing hipsters
You spend your Saturday nights shooting tequila and tacos in Clapton but retreat, your passions spent, to the comforting environs of Islington. Where do you carbo-load your hangover? Maison d’Etre.
This cutesy café on Highbury Roundabout has been a local favourite of ours in recent years, particularly favoured for the coveted, airy conservatory space at the back. Maison d’Etre’s avo toast is definitely the most verdant of the brunch bunch: lightly smashed avocado served with lots of leaves, a wedge of lime and a sprinkling of seeds: ideal for whacking the saint vs sinner barometer back into gear.
Although worth noting (not strictly toast, but we’re pushing our limits) are their homemade crumpets, topped with smoked salmon, avocado and dukkah: a refreshing change to the sourdough set.
Maison d’Etre, 154 Canonbury Road, N1 2UP
Black Axe Mangal
No talk of Maison d’Etre (or indeed brunch) could be complete without mentioning their rockstar neighbours, Black Axe Mangal. The flatbread superstars pull a mean brunch, and have been known to feature a particularly excellent avocado-topped sesame flatbread. These boys are elusive though, and their menu constantly evolving, so we urge you to peek a nose in and see what they’ve got in store.
Black Axe Mangal, 156 Canonbury Road, N1 2UP