ANZAC Day. A day for reflection and solemn commemoration of the significant sacrifices past and current soldiers have made for our nation. It’s also a day for oats, sugar, and golden syrup all handily packaged together in one bite sized morsel — the Anzac biscuit.
It was Anzac Day 2013 in London and Coffee Cult was jonesing for a biscuit. And, since I had been awake since 3.45am in the morning and had only three cappuccinos from indescribably bad coffee providers, I was also in desperate need of a decent cup. It was a powerful combination that had me frantically googling random configurations of the words ‘Anzac biscuit’, ‘London’, ‘Australian coffee shop’ and ‘desperate’.
By sheer force of will Coffee Cult scrolled across two references. One pointed temptingly to free biscuits being distributed at The Providores. We pictured an Australian Father Christmas type, gleefully frisbeeing warm, oaty circles of goodness at random passersby. Unfortunately, we already recently visited The Providores and decided to investigate instead an obscure mention of an alleged sighting at a place called Borough Barista near Marble Arch.
See: Bringing home the biscuit for more coffee shops in London selling Anzac biscuits.
Whereas with The Providores we may have been overwhelmed by the number of scavenging Aussies rushing the door in need of their biscuity fix, Borough Barista was in (imagined) comparison, surprisingly quiet. To be fair, it was the middle of the afternoon, it is in the back streets just up from Hyde Park, and it looks like the kind of cafe that caters more to the besuited and bespoked morning crowd of briefcase warriors that would pound the pavement outside its corner location on their way to the office.
A slight lack of atmosphere is compounded by a lack of music, made more obvious by the lack of crowds. There are at least nice bench seats outside on which to enjoy that rare warm spring day. Music optional out here, although construction noise seems mandatory. At least inside the counter is piled high with cupcakes, cakes and fresh sandwiches. And there they are: a stack of glowing golden orbs — the Anzac biscuits.
Never has Coffee Cult needed a good cup of coffee more. Luckily at least Borough Barista can produce quality in that respect. We also throw down a poached egg, bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich on very grainy bread — because, well, as a breakfast column it would be unfair to you, dear readers, not to comment on at least a breakfast related item. Ok fine, it’s because we’re also craving bacon. And barbeque sauce. And it’s delicious.
And now for the main event, the Anzac biscuit. Bigger than the palm of my hand, soft and chewy in the centre with a crisp crunchy circumference, it is oaty, sugary and delicious. Craving satisfied.
Ahhhhh… ummmmm…. well, it has Anzac biscuits doesn’t it? Isn’t that enough? To be honest, the sign outside says English coffee, and the barista is decidedly not Antipodean. Plus when I ask if it’s ok to take photos, he asks: ‘for Instagram?’ Ok Coffee Cult has Instagram, but we normally try to restrain ourselves from posting photos of half-eaten food in enhanced Valencia tint unless, well, it’s a photo of the long-awaited and anticipated Anzac biscuit. And, just when I think I’m going to have to write the whole thing off — he declares the manager is Australian. Done.
Ok it has none of the frills and fanfare as might otherwise accompany a visit to an Australian cafe. It is not a place to linger in the warm conviviality of it all. However, it is fast, efficient and serves up a mean Anzac biscuit. What more do you want?
60 Seymour St
London W1H 7JN
By Alex Ivett