Kentishtowner Awards: Best Breakfast 2012


Best Breakfast is an unusual category for us in that, despite our weekly coverage of eating options in the area, …



Best Breakfast is an unusual category for us in that, despite our weekly coverage of eating options in the area, we have barely touched upon that first, most important meal of the day. Why? For no other reason than resources; however, we’re planning a Top 10 guide in the new year. But in the meantime these results are strictly your thoughts, uninfluenced in any way by our editorial in 2012.

Of course, by breakfast most people are thinking of a leisurely weekend brunch – and it showed in the votes. But for a simple weekday hunger buster, cheap and cheerful places like the Wine Cellar, Pedro’s, the Town Cafe, Tolli, Mamma Mia and the well-sourced and priced Dirty Breakfast had a few fans (we can vouch too for the latter’s refillable 99p coffee).

For weekenders, the Junction Tavern (‘amazing’ eggs benedict), Colonel Fawcett, and Made In Camden were popular. England’s Lane is a preferred destination, and in particular Ginger & White (‘best scrambled I’ve ever had out, with really great soft boiled eggs too’, said one reader) and Chamomile (‘my favourite breakfasts in the whole of London. Great food, perfectly cooked, friendly service with smoothies to make it all seem healthy’). Elsewhere, Swain’s Lane, especially Kalendar, notable for its emphasis on provenance, and the Bread & Bean in Archway, were both praised. Seems you lot enjoy an appetite-heightening wander to a scenic first meal – except, that is, when you’re feasting at the number one choice, below.

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1. Kentish Canteen

There was one absolutely clear winner, soaring far above the second place. Kentish Canteen is your most popular choice for breakfast, or, as we imagine mostly, weekend brunch. ‘It’s taken a while but these guys are starting to get it together,’ said one reader, perhaps a little cautiously, but it’s true they’ve been through a few staff changes – and are now in something of a purple patch. Our regular is always the eggs florentine, but we confess it’s been a while since we swung by. As for you lot? ‘Stupendous roast tomatoes on toast,’ enthused one; ‘they do this very unusual French Toast with bananas. Mmm,’ revealed another. ‘Some of the better coffee in the area, and a consistently tasty breakie’. Some of you were torn: ‘it’s a toss-up between the Canteen and Arancini’. 300 Kentish Town Road.

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2= Arancini and Renoir

Arancini is a natural Top 3 finalist. Ever since it opened it’s been a local hit, and its slightly hidden away Lower Kentish Town Road location (at #115) only adds to the appeal as you step inside. Things you like there? ‘Oh the little English muffins with all sorts of toppings,’ said one reader. ‘Too tasty,’ agreed another. Renoir (244 Kentish Town Road) was a less predictable joint second placing (and one that we have yet to roadtest) yet often very busy in the mornings, especially with students and their visiting parents. If you’re a fan, recommend us a dish below.

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3= Map Cafe and Mario’s

In joint third place came two very deserved local institutions: the bohemian Map Cafe (46 Grafton Road), whose cooked full English breakfast is one of its best eating options (shame the service can be so frustrating), and on weekdays is packed with French mothers and buggies; nearby Mario’s (6 Kelly Street), so easy to forget about in the spate of recent openings like Doppio, was praised by one reader as ‘without a doubt the best cafe in London. Everything from the service to the customers that frequent it makes it truly special’. Well said.

Footnote: we’re aware if there is a ‘second equal’ then strictly speaking the next in line should be ‘fourth equal’. But we thought it showed more seasonal goodwill this way.

Tomorrow: Best Lunch

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  • Gavin at Houpresso

    Excellent, we are truly spoilt for choice. Starving now I’ve read that.

  • Daniel

    Funny you have Map Cafe even as a contendant.
    I know you mention the service can be frustrating, but I actually would call it disgraceful. I went there with some friends about a month ago and had to wait exactly an hour and a half to get our food. And when it arrived my scrambled eggs where fried, my friends bread was missing, and my other friend didnt had tomatoes. When I kindly make a point about it, their answer was: try to run a cafe!
    I obviously I dont know how tu run a cafe, but I dont own one.
    I have highly advised my friends in the area to avoid it. It is not worhty.

  • Alison

    I really like the omelettes at Renoir, and their Turkish breakfasts are very good. Their Croque Monsieur is enough to see off any hangover and the coffee is really good.

  • Christelle Chamouton

    Last time I was at the Canteen we waited over an hour for a club sandwich that finally arrived cold. No excuse no money off offered. At least at the Map when our breakfast arrived 1 hour late with no mushrooms, a slice of bread and half a sausage we were offered free cake. Love Love Love the renoir. Such friendly service

  • dan hubert

    Guys guys guys! I have scoured KT for a couple of years in search for the holy grail of fry ups to soak up a mild bastard from behind my eyes. From the sloppiest greasiest excuses to the most pitiful portions I risked heart failure and a triple bypasses to find a breakfast that will leave your stomach full and my hang over clear. I’m not knocking your choices but you’ve never mentioned Kookoo right opposite Arancini’s. Yes ok the interior isn’t quite nailed but there’s two sofa’s and daily papers to sit back and think of England while you wait for a mighty well cooked English Breakfast with a good sausage to boot. It’s all about the sausage as far as I’m concerned. At £6.95 for freshly squeezed orange juice, very nice coffee and a full spread breakfast with toast it will make you want to get drunk every night in order to reap your rewards. Cheers!

    • Kentishtowner

      With passion like that we can only pray you voted in the awards, mister!

  • Edison C

    Pretty suprised about these Map Cafe reviews, as I’ve never ever had a bad experience there, and to be honest, I’m probably one of their biggest customers lol. I live nearby, so I pop in at least once a week for their meat lasagna, which is very, VERY good, and I’m a fan of the gigantic portion! I’ve mentioned it to friends in the past, and they all already know it, and love it (damn, I thought it was my discovery lol). A few weeks ago I ordered the salmon breakfast, which came with spinach, organic toast, scrambled eggs and mushrooms. I wanted my eggs poached, and slightly soft inside, and they prepared them perfectly & with no fuss… which was nice.
    They also serve an awesome roast beef dinner, with all the trimmings. I don’t think they serve it every day, so I’m guessing it’s a Sunday thing? but it is very hearty, and seriously good value for money.
    A few weeks ago, I took a friend there, and we shared a wedge of carrot cake, which was perfectly moist, and reminded me of the one my mother used to make back home in Devon. I wanted to ask the girl at the counter what the topping was, but it was trying to look cool :p
    The coffee is good too… I usually go for a caramel latte, or a macchiato if i’m in a rush, but recently tried the small hot chocolate, which they sprinkled with chocolate and served in a really rustic mini mug lol… I think small things like that are what set such places apart from the faceless starbucks-type establishments, and map is a winner in that respect. Even when it’s packed, they will make your drink with soy milk, with syrup, cinnamon, whatever… with no problem… I love that.
    The place has a nice atmosphere, it’s not on the main road, so I go there to relax, and read, or just waste time, and they play good music. It has that NYC jazz cafe / Parisian book club feel, because it’s cosy, and is full of ecclectic pottery and books AND uber-interesting artist types. The Free WiFi is a bonus too :p

  • Priscilla

    re. The Renoir omelette comment: Yes, agreed. It is absolutely delicious. I have found that here in London (I am from Belgium) omelettes are somewhat unpleasant, by virtue of the overcooked, limp and sporadic scattering of sweet pepper cubes and OTT cheddar cheese, but Renoir avoids this completely and theirs are full of flavour and texture. It is quite apparent that this eating place uses many fresh Ingredients and the resturant itself is very attractive.

    re. Map Cafe and portion size: I agree. I’m not familiar with their fish or meat based breakfasts – I’m a vegetarian, but I do know they make a few vegetarian breakfasts. I’m a porridge fan (soy porridge), and they make theirs with milk, soy milk and (I would imagine) with water on request. It also contains cubed apple, brown sugar and cinnamon. I cannot remember the exact price, but it certainly isn’t expensive, and the serving is considerably large, and never fails to fill me up. I’ve also tried the vegetarian fry-up (they serve it with tasty vegetarian sausages), the muesli with natural yogurt (again, the portion is generous), the toast with baked beans, the toast with eggs or jam. The menu features a ‘French breakfast’ that I have not tried, but I think it is a freshly baked croissant with jam, and coffee (pretty easy to get right, so I am sure it is good). They definitely have a plethora of options, but as noted, I only know the vegetarian breakfasts. They serve breakfast until 1 or 2 on weekends – making it a perfect place to head to on a slow, lazy day. It does get very busy at times, but not annoyingly so.