- Food & Drink
Last week Brunch Club had one of its irregular outings and we took it to Ginger and White in Hampstead, where Leonard, Tor and I subjected darkest North London’s food offerings to our steely South London gaze.
Ginger and White is a British coffee shop. You can tell it’s British because it has a great big Union Jack print on the wall and everyone looks nervously at each other when they take a seat at the communal table in the middle. In spite of the best efforts of Wagamama and other noisy chain restaurants, Britons still aren’t 100% certain about sharing tables with strangers.
We were so uncertain that we sat at the communal table, then moved to the sofa and stools, then back to the communal table and then around the table a bit in order to accommodate a party of 5 women who wanted to sit together. The only sections of the restaurant we didn’t sit in was the bar at the window and the outside tables. Our waitress was phlegmatic about this, possibly because G&W is so tiny she could easily spot us, no matter how much we ran about.
I ordered a flat white, which was rich and creamy and I could barely taste the coffee. Fine for me, I like my coffee to imitate a Quality Street Coffee Cream as much as possible, but grown ups might be disappointed. Perhaps it’s designed as an introduction to coffee for the many precocious 6-year-olds that clutter up the restaurant while their parents speed read The Guardian.
I ordered the boiled eggs and Marmite soldiers. “I’ll bring you the Marmite separately, because it’s a personal thing, isn’t it?” said our waitress. Quite true. How many burgeoning relationships have been nipped in the bud by the over or under-lavishing of Marmite on that first slice of shared morning toast? I respected the kitchen for letting me decide how much Marmite I could handle, but I wish they hadn’t sliced the toast into soldiers first.
These were perfect toasted soldiers. Crisp and buttery and narrow enough to dip in an egg, but have you tried to Marmite a thin, buttery soldier? You can’t do it with elegance. I finished the meal covered in Marmite, butter and crumbs. This would probably have happened anyway but it’s the first time I have mourned the lack of a finger bowl at breakfast.
The other slight let down was that the soft-boiled eggs were mostly hard boiled. I had ideally sized soldiers for dipping and very little to dip them in. That the eggs were yellow-yolked examples of mouthwatering egginess was no consolation for having to spoon the yolk out rather than slosh around in it.
However, I did like Ginger and White. The food was good, if not perfect, and the service friendly, if not fast. The scrubbed wood, enamel plates and chunky glasses are a bit self-consciously pre-1940s British, the menu drops names like I drop wine glasses and the clientele are infuriatingly North London (i.e. good looking, wealthy and wearing better shoes than me, damn their eyes) but I can’t resist a place with a pile of Chelsea Buns by the till. I will cross the river to eat there again.