Regular readers will be aware that I have an brunch addiction. I don’t know if it’s a Kiwi thing, a generation thing, or just an ‘Emma’-thing, but the odds are if me and my mates are out for a celebration/catchup/or-any-excuse-I-can-think of meal it’ll be brunch. Or afternoon tea, equally acceptable.
So, when TNT Magazine (a bible for Kiwis and Aussies in the UK for more than 30 years) approached me about becoming a ‘pro-blogger’ checking out restaurants for them, I though ‘hey’ another excuse!
The Kiwi-run Hummingbird Café (now known as Proud Mary’s) had been on my horizon for quite awhile (thanks for the brilliant shout-out Kiwis in London) so I emailed my usual suspects and we got a date in. Luck of all luck, we found ourselves in the best position – a sunny Saturday morning, Flat Whites in hand, ready to catch up and snack on the best meal of the day.
My game plan is simple, but effective. Eggs Benedict, flat white and maybe something naughty to share – in this case a delicious Lemon and Rosemary Drizzle cake from the teasing display at the counter. I simply wasn’t able to resist a slice. Our table ordered a few variations; Poached Eggs with Avocado & Bacon, Eggs Royale, Blueberry Pancakes with bacon, and ‘Spiced Moorish Eggs & Chorizo’.
In order of favourite dishes; Blueberry pancakes were a surprise outright win. Well-sized, beautifully cooked and absolutely melted in your mouth, with a sly hit of maple syrup – these alone caused us to immediately plan another visit. My Eggs Benedict was pretty darn good, the Avocado breakfast & bacon combo was a good standard and the Eggs Royale with slightly overcooked yolks made it more miss than hit. For us, the dish we didn’t get on with was the ‘Spiced Moorish Eggs & Chorizo’. My friend who is lactose intolerant ordered it sans-yoghurt and it wasn’t great, but at this point, the biggest plus kicked in.
It was proper fantastic old-fashioned Kiwi service (something I definitely get homesick for). They took the feedback on board, removed the dish and replaced it with a requested Hummingbird Breakfast with no trouble at all. They were extremely apologetic, obliging and quick to resolve problems. I’ve worked in hospitality, and problems happen, that’s life, but the mark of a great front-of-house team is what can make or break a brunch spot, and they were fab.
Oh, and that Lemon Rosemary Drizzle cake? Sooooooooo good. Rich, piquant and very moreish. We couldn’t stop ourselves nibbling at it and seriously contemplated another one, that is before the more behaved little voices in our heads scuppered the gluttony.
The fantastic coffee is bang on from Square Mile and service from the staff was great. I hate to be hurried on a brunchy morning, and found that they were friendly, more than happy to make substitutions (also fixing a wobbly table) and didn’t push us along, meaning that we could enjoy our chat and brekkie at leisure.
I really enjoyed their fiery Virgin Marys (and not just my own) . I tell you what, go in there with a hangover, try one of these babies, and watch the dusty corners be blown out. Whew, they were fantastic.
Will I be back? Definitely, those pancakes are calling my name…
The Hummingbird café (now known as Proud Mary’s) is tucked away on leafy Oaklands Grove in West London – the closest tube Stations is Shepherds Bush Market. I’d love to say it’s a gem that no-one has discovered, but it seems like a nicely humming local haunt – perfect for brunch and has a great local vibe.
It’s run by a Kiwi, Lorraine and her Morroccan partner, is a self-styled antipodean eatery (yes, I just said ‘eatery’) and I really recommend it. It’s nice to have somewhere that’s not in trendy Shoreditch or on the Old Street
Bermuda triangle roundabout that’s quietly tucked away. I also thought the décor was very very cute – very soft, feminine and pretty. The pricing was fair as well (and I wasn’t comped in any way for this, just sharing the love and good brunch spots).