- Food & Drink
A couple of weeks ago Leonard and I startled the staff of Mrs Marengo’s on Lexington Street by walking through the door at 8am. We were the only two women wandering the streets (unusual for Soho) and at that time of day it feels clean and optimistic. It’s that moment when you wake up and say to yourself: ‘I will not drink today’ and briefly believe it turned into sparkling streets and lampposts and kerbstones.
When you’re skipping along the streets, celebrating your sobriety and wondering if you could add ‘not eating biscuits’ to your list of things to achieve, Mrs Marengo’s vegetarian delights will catch your pious eye. It’s done up in a knowing vintage style. Tiled walls, high counters and stools so you can dangle your legs (or, at least, Leonard and I could dangle our legs). In the windows are tiers of lusciously iced cakes, even at 8am, which tell you that, although this is a vegetarian cafe, it is a Fun Vegetarian Cafe and they know all about Sensual Pleasure, just in a Nice, Non-Murdery Way.
My breakfast tea is organic. Coo
The staff are, I expect, bright and chipper. At 8am they are smiley and attentive in a way that suggests they have a lot of oranges to juice and coffee machines to heat and really, no one normally comes in till 8.30am. I think they were a touch thrown by our super early arrival.
Luckily for them, we did not want poached eggs, omelettes or vegetarian sausages. I ordered Bircher muesli (£3.25) and a pot of breakfast tea (£1.60), Leonard wanted a slice of toasted banana bread (£1.70) and a cappuccino (£2.35). The tea was, naturally, organic and came in a metal pot that looks cute and old-fashioned but can burn several layers of skin off your hand if you’re not adept at using them.
The first thing to say about the muesli is that it was enormous. Absolutely huge. If I am making Bircher muesli at home, I use about 30g of oats. I think I had half a bagful in my bowl and probably consumed most of my day’s calories in under 15 minutes, because the second thing to say about the muesli is that it was delicious.
I love the creaminess of soaked Bircher and this was as rich and indulgent as any I’ve tried. The addition of orange juice gave it a bit of citrussy zip and there was also plenty of dried fruit, pecans and grated apple to add fibrous interest. The enormous mint bush that decorated the top, however, was a completely unnecessary garnish.
Leonard’s banana bread was a doorstop thick wedge of the lightest, fluffiest banana bread I have ever had a bite of. The shame of uneaten, overripe bananas tends to drag banana bread down and it often sits like a stone in your stomach, mocking you for not managing to eat the fruit in its natural state. But this was an airy, fragrant celebration of the banana, crusted in the toaster and topped off with a generous spreading of butter.
Mrs Marengo’s offers takeaway as well as eat in and if I was one of the media bots working unsociable hours in Soho, I’d often dash in to Mrs Marengo’s to pick up breakfast and enjoy a little moment of pleasure before sitting at my desk and getting lost in my screen.