I know I usually like to start these things by setting the scene a little, talking about the ambience or the hot waitstaff, but I just have to tell you guys, these were the best pancakes I have ever had.
They’re not technically called pancakes. They’re called ricotta hotcakes. I’m not sure if this is to throw you off or to entice you, but I’d seen them arriving on a rival table and I knew they were what I wanted. They’re also served with “honeycomb butter” so you can see I had very little choice in the matter.
These are the thickest, fluffiest pancakes you’ve ever seen. But they aren’t too sweet, as american style pancakes can sometimes be. In fact, the ricotta gives them an intense flavour, slightly savoury (though not too much), and that wonderful warm sort of taste that signals home baking. Though I expect they’re fried, but whatever, you get my drift.
These are totally balanced by the accompaniments – a light fluffy pancake served with rich butter, the savoury ricotta balanced with sweet honeycomb, everything both a bit too salty, a bit too sweet. They also come with fresh banana – not mashed to a pulp a la Jackson & Rye, but perfectly ripe in a way that makes you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot if you were to peel this fruit yourself.
Guys. You have to try these pancakes. That’s all I’m saying.
I also ordered a bellini – perfect, classic – and a flat white – the most sophisticated drink. The restaurant is closer to Kings Cross station than granary square, and calmer, quieter. The staff are attentive. The chairs are comfortable. I’ve eaten lunch there too – linguini with prawns and chilli and spring onion, fresh and perfectly judged, with the most wonderful courgette fries to start and a square of perfect pistachio chocolate while we had coffee. I have a colleague who I think practically lives in this restaurant and it’s not hard to see why.
Am I raving? I think that several brunches have disappointed me this year. I feel like I’m seeing the same things over and over again. Possibly it’s my fault – how many different ways CAN you serve poached egg and avocado? But to take a classic like pancakes and make it so perfect takes real skill. I would say my favourite brunch of the year (possibly second to Dishoom, but that’s a different sort of a brunch, and you’ll know which one you want).
I would love to go again and see if the other options on their menu are of the same quality, but then again, will I be able to resist the pancakes’ siren call? Only time will tell.
“We’re ordering bellinis, right?” asked Hattie as we sat down at Granger & Co one Friday morning in November.
“Of course,” I replied. “And we should tell Matt to buy a bottle of prosecco for the Eurostar before we meet him.”
Everyone, we assumed, would be drinking prosecco on a Friday morning Eurostar to Lille in November. (“I’m so poor,” sighed Hattie later, as the train left St Pancras and I popped the cork. No one let her forget it.)
Hattie and I love to plan exciting end-of-year treats for ourselves in the weeks before Christmas. It’s a great way to get into the festive spirit, celebrate the hard work of the past year, and fight off any winter blues. And this year we outdid ourselves with three days in Lille and one in Bruges. Both cities were bursting with great food, charming Christmas markets, and glittery lights. I would highly recommend it if you need a festive minibreak next year.
But first, of course, we had to get in the mood with a pre-Eurostar brunch, and Granger & Co is just a stone’s throw from St Pancras – perfect for anxious travellers who like to make the journey as stress-free as possible.
It was magical from the start. There was an angelic newborn baby at the next table, right in our eyeline. The bellinis were crisp and delicate. The coffee was strong and comforting. And I ordered the best – THE BEST – poached eggs on toasted sourdough with spinach and bacon. The eggs were absolutely perfect. The spinach was fresh. The bacon was just charred enough to give it a little kick of flavour.
It’s such a simple meal, really – easy to recreate at home, available in some form on most good brunch menus. But something about this one just came together beautifully in a way I could never achieve in our little kitchen – everything was perfectly balanced, there wasn’t too much or too little of anything on the plate. By the end I felt happy and healthy and ready for an afternoon of dragging suitcases through scary security checks.
It’s a risk to make a simple dish on shows like Masterchef, because they have to be absolutely perfect. Hattie and I haven’t quite swung our own MasterBrunchChef show on BBC2 yet for some reason – but if we had, Granger & Co would be straight through to the final.