20 Seymour Street, London W1H 7HX
Value for money: 6/10
Sunday morning in wintery London, and I’m looking out of my window at grey skies, rain, and treetops shaking in the wind. Yep, time to check out that bright-looking brunch place I saw a few months ago while walking down the quiet roads behind Oxford Street. I’d love to say I went for a run in the wind and rain to earn my carb-fuelled brunch, but I just jumped in the car and drove to Daisy Green on Seymour Street, W1 (www.daisygreen.co.uk).
It’s about 11.15am when I walk through the door, and the couple ahead of me nab the last available walk-in table for a while. I note to myself that I can make reservations at the weekend and take a seat at the bar area on the ground level instead.
All I know about Daisy Green is that it’s an Aussie-style cafe/eatery, looks bright and sunny, and has coconut French toast on the menu, which is exactly what I’ve come for. It’s one of a small chain which includes the ‘Beany Green’ and ‘Timmy Green’ branches, all in central London.
I’ve been trying to eat clean and get lean, but my effort has been half-hearted at best: I’ve been easing myself into going sugar and carb-free, although I’ve cut out processed foods fairly easily, and that already feels better. This place claims to serve up good coffee, and I’m a growing fan of the Aussie approach to coffee, being a big fan of Caravan coffee. However, I’m going caffeine-free for two weeks so I ordered a ‘house’ chai. It arrived in a small 8oz glass – the hipster coffee glass – and although it tasted delicious, for £3.40 I would have hoped for a bigger glass; a hipster super-size serving. I wonder what they would serve that in – maybe a small plant pot, sunday glass, or a bowl like they do at Sunday, which I find quite soothing and reassuring to grab in my palms.
Anyway, to the food. The big draw of this dish for me – while I’m trying to go clean and have been instructed by James Duigan (in his book) to go wheat-free – is that this dish is gluten-free. Gluten-free French toast: sufficiently clean for me (although it fails miserably at the sugar-free requirement).
The place is busy, and cheery ‘50s songs are playing in the background at an acceptable volume (I could barely hear myself at Caravan when I went to meet a date a few Sundays ago, and we had to decamp to the nearby Yumchaa). My dish arrives, and it looks like sunshine on a plate: two hunks of coconut bread slathered in fluffy mascarpone cheese, liberally covered with shaved coconut and lined with a couple of raspberries and small slices of fresh mango and a light fruit coulis. Maple syrup is served on the side in a little pot.
One thing I will state clearly: come hungry, and come ready to be knocked out. This is a hefty, dense serving, largely because the coconut bread is more like cake, and there are two fat slabs on your plate. If your idea of French toast is custard-dipped, fluffy, crispy-soft slices (or hunks) of golden decadence, think again: the French toast here is lightly fried, but it didn’t look or taste like it had been dipped in a batter, and the texture is crumbly rather than soft and crispy.
So what I didn’t like was how dense and heavy it was, and the crumbly texture. What I did like was the lovely combination of bread and mascarpone cheese, which was generous enough to get in every mouthful – just what you need. I ended up not using all of the maple syrup, but it’s a nice addition to the overall flavour which sometimes needs the sweetness boost in a mouthful. The variety of textures and colours on the plate pleased my tongue and convinced me that I was doing some sort of good to my body, even though I was actually eating two large slices of cake.
The menu includes other sweet and savoury dishes, including the ubiquitous smashed avocado on sourdough and shakshuka (both looking a little tired on menus now). They have home-made granola and home-made Aussie treats like Lamintons, plus the popular healthier eating energy balls.
Did I enjoy my brunch? On the whole, yes – I loved the coconut flavours with the mascarpone cheese and fruits. But it’s a heavy dish and I would go again either if I’m really hungry or have been to the gym and need a carb explosion.
For my favourite pancakes so far, check out my review of Sunday.