Brunch is a big deal in Australia, or at least in Melbourne, so my husband tells me. Whilst I’m not an aussie, I think I can now lay claim to a little bit of aussieness by marriage and after four years together, I like to think I’ve developed a sense for sniffing out a good brunch in London. When my husband first arrived here, he expressed disappointment in London’s brunch scene and in a fit of patriotism (and also some defensiveness of a good old bacon sarnie) I made it my mission to change his mind and to show him that London too can make a good breakfast. Somewhat ironically then, whilst we have devoted a significant number of weekend mornings to hunting down the perfect brunch (as to which, stay tuned for updates from my archives of experience!), our most favoured spots all seem to be Australian (or occasionally Kiwi). And so this saturday morning, we found ourselves heading out to taste-test Salvation Jane, which has recently opened in our neck of the woods, on City Road, just by Old Street Roundabout.
Salvation Jane is the (bigger) sister cafe of Lantana in Fitzrovia. This is useful to know (1) since we love Lantana and Salvation Jane is closer to home for us and (2) Lantana is tiny and always involves a wait, whereas Salvation Jane is about 3 times the size. Billing itself as “A little piece of Australia in Shoreditch“, Salvation Jane serves up a modern twist on your standard fry-up. Think baked eggs with hummus, dukkah and turkish bread; or maybe poached fruit , or perhaps the corn fritters with an avocado salsa and streaky bacon, rounded off with a strong and smooth long black or flat white. If you like what you hear, you’ve found yourself a new weekend home.
As seasoned brunchers, we have developed a slick approach to ordering – always try to spread yourself and the rest of your party across the whole menu. This will mean convincing your companions of the virtues of sharing each chosen dish. This way though, you get to taste as much as possible and both savoury and sweet (crucial in my mind, to a satisfying brunch experience).
The menu at Salvation Jane shares similarities with a couple of my other favoured London Brunch destinations ( such as Workshop Coffee (formerly St Ali) and Caravan), which given the Antipodean influence at each of them, is not surprising. The menu includes lighter breakfast options such as Salvation Jane toasted museli with yoghurt prunes and blossom honey or poached fruit with greek yoghurt and crushed pistachios, before moving on to more heartier fare. We bypassed these lighter options and cut to the chase. I was torn between ordering sauteed mixed mushrooms on grain toast with poached eggs, lemon herb feta and a side of bacon (those of you as indecisive as me should note there are lots of sides that can be ordered to supplement your breakfast!), or going for the corn fritters “stacked with crispy bacon, spinach, slow roast tomatoes, avocado and lime chilli salsa and creme fraiche”. I went for the latter and it was a good choice. The corn fritters were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and were offset wonderfully by the zesty yet rich avocado salsa, with just a hint of a kick of chilli, which when combined with the saltiness of the bacon was just delicious!
The husband (after ooohing and aaahhing in indecision over the BERT (a mammoth toasted sandwich of bacon, egg, rocket and tomato), decided to be a bit more adventurous and went for field mushrooms stuffed with goats cheese, bacon, poached egg and crisp polenta. I obviously tucked into his too and can report that it was another good choice, particularly since there were the two breakfast stalwarts of bacon AND egg (I think, if I had a criticism of the corn fritters, it would be that a poached egg would have set them off perfectly). The polenta was yummy, two golden triangles of crispy fried polenta, that was yummy with the egg yolk running over it, heaped onto a fork with a bite of bacon and goats cheese mushroom!
Feeling a little sad that I hadn’t yet tried anything sweet and forming a pact that we wouldn’t eat for the rest of the day, we then tossed up between ordering toasted banana bread with honey ricotta or cinnamon french toast, with almonds, blueberries and mascapone. The french toast won out (though I will be back to try the banana bread!!). Another yummy dish, the bread satisfyingly crispy (none of that yucky soggy french toast), and coated in cinnamon sugar. It also looked very pretty with the purply-blue berries and dusting of icing sugar and almonds. My only criticism would be that I think I would serve it with slightly more fruit if I were to make it myself.
That aside, this satisfied my sweet tooth, which meant that there was no room left to squeeze in one of the alluring cakes on display in the window, but, tomorrow is another day and it’s earmarked for a cherry ripe slice (a tribute to the Aussie chocolate bar of the same name).
What we had – 3 brunch dishes + coffee & service : £35
Value Barometer: 7/10 – (dishes range from £5 – £10) Ours was a little pricey if you consider this is breakfast, but then it’s on a par with similar places in London, and on the bright side, you won’t be hungry till dinner time!
Go if: Breakfast is a big deal and you like to make an event out of it
Don’t go if: you’re just in need of a good honest fry up – you may be disappointed (try The Breakfast Club instead)
How to get there: Old Street Station (Northern Line). The address is Unit 2 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road EC1Y 1HQ