The National Gallery cafe

The National Cafe is the Peyton and Byrne venture inside the National Gallery, it has been there for a year or perhaps more but I visited for the first time last week. It is beautifully designed, a little like having a slap up lunch in a library or the dining room in an old country house. We visited the cafe, which is attached to the brasserie, which also looks good and may warrant a visit soon.

The centre piece of the cafe is a large dresser like table covered in cakes and pastries from which you help yourself, using a pleasingly old fashioned cake slice. The cakes are all homemade looking and unimpeded by wrapping of any sort, so the effect is that of visiting an enthusiastic Aunt’s house for tea and being invited to help yourself to whatever you want, which cleverly allows you to forget you will actually have to pay for it when you reach the counter. The sandwiches are fresh and made with good dense bread, I had pitta bread, hummus and tomato and onion salad, all of which was lovely, the hummus tasting pleasingly tahini filled.

Once you have loaded your plates with cake and paid you can either sit at a table or perch on a stool at a bar which gives you a surprisingly entertaining view of the cake stand and allows you to watch other people loading their plates with cake. All in all it was a pleasing experience and I have already chosen three more types of cake to try which means I will need to go back at least three more times (the giant fig rolls look particularly exciting).


Lunch in Borough Market pt 2

So it is true that it is difficult to sit down and eat lunch in Borough Market, a lot of standing up and shovelling down meat filled rolls goes on. Which is all well and good but we were looking for somewhere to sit and chat and recover from the rain. We tried the French Patisserie but were told we couldn’t just have coffee but that we all had to eat, ‘It is a patisserie’ we were told rather snootily. So we decamped to shipp’s tearooms – now closed-and were welcomed with open arms, even told that they only did tea but we were welcome to go and buy a coffee and bring it in! Needless to say we didn’t, we all had tea, served in retro little tea pots with floral china on freshly laundered table linen. It was fantastic and old fashioned but quite clearly styled that way, with china cups suspended from the ceiling and girls with rose bud complexions serving. Service was friendly, tea was delicious and the cakes were moist, buttery and everything that we hoped they would be. This all does not come cheaply, but then you are in Borough market so presumably you have already left your financial sense at the gates. I can’t say exactly how much it cost because my Aunt kindly paid, but I did notice that she had to reach into her purse for an extra note when the bill came. However it is a great place, friendly, tasty, and extrememly well dressed.