Having had a sudden urge to get out of Fulham for the day, I decided I wanted to see the reindeer at Covent Garden and soak up some early Christmassy atmosphere.
Brunch was our first mission. Rob had been recommended Kopapa and, having looked it up online, I was game. When we called to reserve a table however, we were told they were fully booked till 3pm. Nicht gut. So if you want to try out this all-day cafe, set up by three New Zealanders (the name Kopapa meaning ‘a gathering’ in Maori), then book well in advance. They serve everything from the standard brunch egg dishes to Ricotta fritters with avocado and roast grape salad to (which really tempted me) spiced banana french toast with grilled bacon and orange vanilla syrup. Yum. Their food is also meant to be quite healthy so you don’t have to feel too guilty. The dinner menu looked pretty good too. Definitely going there next time.
Bill’s was next on our list – a cafe/restaurant, known for its weekend brunch. We were informed it would be a 20 minute wait for a table which we didn’t think was too bad, so we headed there. And rightly so, when we walked into the homely and warm cafe the queue was snaking up the stairs. The good thing about waiting on the stairs is that all the waiters go past with the piping hot dishes from the kitchen which helps the food decision making process.
Having finally decided I wanted the scrambled eggs and salmon (the portions looked massive) and Rob wanted the bubble & squeak mustard mash with ham and eggs, we were seated. But upsettingly we were informed that since it was 13:05 we had missed breakfast by 5 minutes. Not great. Still, I’d seen the marinated chicken skewers with couscous and tzatziki come by so knew what I wanted from the lunch menu. Rob went for macaroni cheese with a twist (including mushrooms). I don’t like mushrooms but tasted the cheese sauce and it was delicious. The place itself is lovely with rows of jam jars, old-fashioned lemonades and old school tinned food on shelves hanging on rustic brick walls. It is a good place to come with friends for a catch up or just for a chilled hungover lunch. I’d definitely recommend it but more for the cosy atmosphere than the food, which is good but not extraordinary.
The last place I had been recommended by a big foodie was The Riding House Cafe. This isn’t quite in Covent Garden as it is just north of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road – but it is meant to be exceptional. I checked out the menu and the prices look more than reasonable while the menu had the staples you’d expect as well as a selection of mouth-watering small or large sharing plates. Cocktails here are meant to be delicious too. Time Out described it as a ‘funky brasserie’ and the photos back this up. Perhaps a good option for a boozy Saturday brunch instead of a chilled one?
After brunch we walked along the crowded buzzing streets of Covent Garden, I dragged Rob into a few shops and we said hello to the reindeer. They didn’t look too impressed being patted by the masses and having weird looking moss shoved in their mouths. Still it was cute seeing the kids so excited and hearing parents explain that Rudolf the red nose reindeer was sadly not there today. Despite the crowds, which can always be expected there, Covent Garden is the perfect place to go to get in a festive mood and convenient if you want to do some Christmas shopping.
If you need a break from shopping, have a chai latte or a chilli hot chocolate at Cafe Eterno on Neal Street. It’s run by the London City Mission, which you’d never really know unless you paid special attention to a blackboard in the corner. This means that the service is really good and friendly. And the prices are even better (you can easily have lunch here for a fiver).
The perfect Saturday.
St Martin’s Courtyard
Telephone: 0207 240 8183
The Riding House Cafe
43-51 Great Titchfield Street
Telephone: 020 7927 0840
34 Neal Street