WHEN Coffee Cult was little we used to watch Mary Poppins religiously. It almost got to the point where we covered our face with soot from the fireplace and tried to climb up the roof to dance around singing “Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, Chim chim cher-ee” with a broom. Although it was a bleak London — all cold winds, and grey skies — it was still appealing. It had terraced mansions, housekeepers and bowler hats. Roaring fires, pipes and women’s lib movements. Most of all it had a fantastical cartoon world, where you could jump through a painting and find yourself on a soft-edged pastel-shaded sunny countryside jaunt, riding merry-go-rounds horses and dancing with penguins.
Now, having been in London for more than a year, we’ve become very familiar with most of Mary Poppins’ London — the grey, the cold, the harried bankers and the dirty streets. Yet, the park painting London continued to elude us. The idyllic green escape in the middle of a big, cold, hurried city. That was, until Coffee Cult headed to The Pavilion in Victoria Park.
Could there be a more Mary Poppins like-setting than an airy glass-walled rotunda next to a lake, buried in the leafy surrounds of Victoria Park? Not to mention the rows of wooden tables to encourage communal seating. Sitting in the rare sun on a high-top bench on a jetty poking out over the water, and watching baby ducks bob on the water while cygnets trailed after their mums, it felt like Coffee Cult had fallen into that pastel-shaded painting. Well, if the painting’s characters all wore exercise gear and had just done a yoga class under a nearby tree.
In keeping with the family friendly, exercise-encouraging vibe there is a strong emphasis on good-quality organic ingredients. ‘Our milk is from a single herd’ , Ivy House Farm, a sign tells me. I imagine again a cartoon countryside, where the cows sleep in plush beds of green and break into rounds of song before willingly giving over their milk. The coffee at least tastes like this might be the case — creamy and pitch-perfect.
However, for those who haven’t just haven’t come off five laps of the park, there are also some excellent fry-ups available. Besides the offerings of pancakes, eggs benedict and florentine and things on toast, there are also three large plates-full-of-things options. The Vegetarian is a crowded mix of eggs, spinach, beans, roast tomato and bubble & squeak. The scrambled eggs and salmon on crunchy sourdough is light, fluffy and deliciously filling.
The Pavilion opened in 2007 by Australian Brett Redman and his business partner Rob Green. With another venture Elliot’s Bread under their belt, they’ve recently expanded to open Elliot’s cafe in Borough Market. If it’s anything like The Pavilion, it’s now firmly in Coffee Cult’s sights.
Picture perfect. Literally. A painting worthy combination of idyllic setting, good-quality food and great coffee makes it a breakfast spot worth revisiting again and again. If only there were dancing penguin waiters.
Victoria Park, London
Nearest cross street: Crown Gate West
By Alex Ivett