At the risk of breaking the fourth wall for a second, I’d like to mention a new type of feature on the blog – Minor Treat. A Minor Treat is a short overview of somewhere I’ve tried first-hand and want to mention beyond the few sentences I’m limited to on the Cheat Sheet, but I haven’t visited enough to justify or be able to write about in a thousand-word review explaining their ethos, or where they source their napkin-holders from.
First on the list is newly-discovered brunch and lunch spot, The Riverside Cafe.
Occupying the riverside-half of the ground floor of No. 1 Whitehall (you won’t know the name, but you might recognise the building, if you have a keen eye for nondescript chambers of commerce), The Riverside’s plot is like a Costa franchisees wet dream – the 8-ish storeys of offices and conference rooms overhead guarantee decent footfall from suits on business lunches and office bods who are too busy to make a packed lunch; you could get away with a Nespresso machine and some posh-sounding sandwiches freshly bagged up each morning.
The fact I’m writing about them hopefully indicates that they haven’t just settled for that approach, though.
In fact, while it’s not a hugely challenging menu, there’s very little on it which suggests they’ve settled for a “safe choice”. There’s sourdough toast, and the breakfast sandwiches are as you’d expect, but little flourishes are added wherever there’s opportunity. The granola that they serve with yogurt is spiced in-house (which they kindly gave me the recipe for) and half of the brunch menu is taken up by variations on eggs benedict. I ate the Huevos Benedicto, where the ham is replaced with chorizo, paprika-hollandaise smothers the perfectly poached eggs, and the whole thing is topped with more chorizo, crisped up like the best streaky bacon. It’s such a no-brainer and works so well that I’m kicking myself for not coming up with it.
There’s a similarly imaginative approach to the brief lunch menu – pie or soup of the day, detox salad, or sourdough flatbreads with a choice of fillings cooked up in the kitchen – sticky pork rib, falafel, lamb and hummus, that kind of thing. I went for brunch so didn’t get chance to try any of them, but if the brunch was anything to go by, I’ve got good faith in them.
Considering breakfast is the most important meal of the afternoon, there aren’t many places in the city centre doing anything creative with it. You’ve got Greedy Pig’s unbeatable full english and nose-to-tail inspired breakfast burgers at one end of town, and at the other there’s artfully-crafted seasonal hashes and homemade crumpets at Grub & Grog Shop. In between those two there’s not much more imaginative or impressive than a McMuffin, so it’s nice to see somewhere trying something different, even if it is as simple and spicing granola and trussing up an eggs benny.
Service: Efficient. Attentive, but not overbearing.
Price: Entirely fair – Sandwiches 2.50, Eggs 6.00, Flatbreads 4.50.
Hours: From Breakfast to 3pm.
Address: Ground Floor, No. 1 Whitehall Riverside, Whitehall Rd, LS1 4BN