You’re such a lovely cup, why don’t you fill me up…with hot chocolate. With this thought, on a cold November morn I stumbled to Leila’s café in Shoreditch for Sunday brunch.
Leila’s café and neighbouring store, is located on Calvert Avenue close to Shoreditch High Street Station, and its hot chocolate has the same warming effect of the Grouplove song. Our group wait outside for the busy café to empty out to avail of a table for four. Fortunately, we only have a five minute wait before being seated at one of the tables with its distressed feel to it. The distressed feel at times extends to the staff, a smile from whom wouldn’t go astray every once in a while.
As the bones defrost, I take a look at the menu, though there’s no need to, as I already know I’m opting for the eggs and serrano ham – same as almost every other time I visit, with the exception of the time I selected the eggs and sage. Now I’m a big fan of sage. The only thing about sage though, is that while it might make me wise, it definitely is not ham. So back to the ham, and now I’m sage enough never to opt for the wise option again.
A member in the group starts with a bowl of porridge having it suggested by the wily waiter who spots a soft touch. It’s served in a large breakfast bowl with some stewed apple. It’s ok, too tepid, and is not special enough to waste words on.
The eggs and ham are served with bread, and they are tasty. Usually I have brunch at Leila’s with one other and the eggs can be quite greasy for just two, but on this occasion, there are three of us having the eggs and ham and the extra eggs ensure the optimum amount of grease to egg and ham. The egg yolks have that orange hue to them indicating that possibly the chicken may have even seen the sun at some stage during its life, unlike those horrible pale yellow yolks that you find where chickens are farmed in terrifyingly small spaces. Granted, they may not have been running around at home on the farm every day evading the teeth of mister fox, but the egg quality seems to indicate that they’ve had a decent quality of life and decent feeding.
People come and go as we indulge in brunch many of whom don’t seem to comprehend that doors have a latch upon which the door should be attached to as they enter or leave the café. Seriously, folks, in the words of a great 21st century philosopher, JT I believe to be his name; cry me a feckin river and close the fucking door, you weren’t born in a field. It’s not a difficult task and makes life a lot easier for those enjoying brunch, and makes life more comfortable for the good lady seated beside the door who repeatedly closed the door on their behalf.
Having finished the eggs and ham, our waiter suggests an in season pear for the table. Excellent suggestion, it’s juicy and perfectly ripe. We follow it with a Portuguese custard tart seasoned with cinnamon. Cinnamon can be over-powering at the best of times and the custard is slightly over-powered by the cinnamon.
We depart to make way for the next set of guests to take their seat and head back out to a wintry London mid Sunday afternoon. Though, surrounded by the red brick buildings of Calvert Avenue, we could be in New York’s Greenwich Village, but it's even better, we're in London.