I don’t remember how I came to discover Lantana, the small and understated café down a little alley just off Goodge Street – but I remember the consumption of the Lantana lunch box quite clearly. Maybe because I went back to Lantana the next day, and the next, to get my hands on the same unforgettable brown cardboard box filled with a fillet of lemon-baked salmon and a plethora of brightly coloured, über healthy and stupendously flavoursome salads.
Oh and a different cake each day – normally Australian in origin, always delicious. The homemade take on the much-loved chocolatey Cherry Ripe bar is a particular highlight that comes to mind, and I am informed that the ‘Crack Cake’ must be tasted to be believed.
After numerous excellent experiences – and positive testimonials from all the friends and colleagues I’ve dragged to Fitzrovia too – Lantana sits at the #1 spot of my Top Working Lunch List. In fact it would be a constant feature of my lunch hour if only the salmon + salad boxes cost under a fiver (they’re actually £6.80), and if the cakes didn’t look so damn good that they render me powerless to resist (a moment on the lips…)!
But back to the history of the place. The name Lantana comes from a South American plant that was taken to Australia by immigrants, and thrived. The team behind the brand like this analogy, as Lantana Café is much like that hardy weed that thrives in unlikely environments – it’s a little slice of Australia transported to London and thriving.
There’s a second Lantana café in Shoreditch. Previously known as Salvation Jane, the casual café/restaurant has recently changed its name to match its Fitzrovian counterpart. Whereas I’ve only ever visited Fitzrovia for lunch, I’ve only visited its sister, just off the Old Street roundabout, for hearty brunches.
Quirky and homely in its vibe and decor (like maybe you’re sitting in someone’s living room being served great comfort food), Lantana Shoreditch is the kind of place you’d want to come the morning after the night before, to slurp enough coffee to soften the edges of the hangover and refuel with some Antipodean cuisine. Expect friendly but casual service from a Shoreditch hipster, and well-executed, reasonably-priced and unusual plates (the corn fritters with avocado and a poached egg was a winning dish for me).
Both cafés are open for breakfast and lunch during the week, and all day brunch at the weekend. Fitzrovia also has Lantana Out, a takeaway canteen adjacent to the café for if you’re short on time. They’ve also recently launched a dinner service, which would certainly be worth checking out.
Lantana is there for you for every occasion – like a momentary transportation to Australia, with its Antipodean coffee, simple but excellent food, and a relaxed vibe that only the Aussies succeed in exuding all year round.
Fitzrovia: 13 Charlotte Place, W1T 1SN
Shoreditch: Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, EC1Y 1HQ