Daisy Green, 20 Seymour Street, London W1H 7HX
Value for money: 3/5
Recommend – yes
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’ (soon to open, the website tells me) 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.