We love pancakes. Not only are they the most socially acceptable way of starting your day off with what is essentially a fat-off dessert, but they're also the only breakfast item in existence that gets an entire day dedicated solely to its consumption. The fantastic news for our fellow fan-cakes of pancakes out there is that Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day) is just around the corner, and London is a great place to be when that date rolls around.
Taking place on the day before Ash Wednesday, and the commencement of Lent, the tradition of consuming endless stacks of pancakes on this day originated because the decadent discs were seen as the most efficient way to use up rich foods like eggs, milk, and sugar before the beginning of one's forty day fast.
It's the sort of pantry-raiding, carb-heavy panic binge that should be familiar to anyone who's ever moved flats before. Nowadays, even those not partaking in Lent are keen to get involved in a bit of pancake over-consumption. Why? Because it's the one day a year where no-one can judge you for eating a dozen of those flapjacks in about as many minutes.
It doesn't matter whether you prefer your pancakes served straight from the pan, doused in lemon and sugar, or delivered in a thick stack of fluffy pucks – there's a pancake out there for everyone. To make the most of Pancake Day, we'd recommend making to a trip to any of the following places in London where you can get your fix of the very best savoury and sweet pancakes that the city has to offer.
18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
The pancakes at Christopher's are the stuff of legend: a picture perfect stack of doughy discs that look as if they've been transposed straight out of an American sitcom. Made using fresh buttermilk, the pancakes are fluffy – not spongy – and come topped with a pleasant plop of blueberry compote. Christopher's is additionally introducing four decadent specials for Pancake Day. Those with a sweet tooth will have trouble choosing between the heaving white chocolate and Oreo or the cinnamon doughnut pancake stacks whereas proponents of the savoury can opt for a butter poached lobster or Yukon Gold potato and truffle pancake. The ability to 'build your own pancake' is a pretty unique draw, too. Want a buckwheat pancake topped with maple-cured bacon, a scoop of matcha green tea ice cream, and drizzled with lemon and honey? I mean, that sounds weird as hell, to be honest. But you can order that exact monstrosity at Christopher's if it so takes your fancy. So, y'know, you do you.
The Breakfast Club
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The Breakfast Club are good at breakfast. The clue is in the name. The various locations that dot across London's landscape from Angel to Spitalfields can usually be spotted by the queue of hungry punters waiting outside. Creations like the 'All American' (pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes and maple syrup) are the traditional, belly-bursting breakfast you'd expect from a joint that pays open homage to John Hughes. That being said, more diverse pancake-adjacent dishes like the 'Argy-bhaji' (a spiced onion waffle served with chilli fried egg, spinach, mango chutney & minted yoghurt) deliver some diversified London edge. The Breakfast Club are celebrating pancake day via the return of its 12-pancakes-in-12-minutes pancake challenge. Do you dare to take on a stack so thick?
4 Sutton Lane, EC1M 5PU
Irish home food might not be something you typically associate with pancakes but a trip to J+A Café will quickly change your views on that. The Clerkenwell café has earned a worthy reputation for its hot Irish boxty – a potato pancake served with fried eggs and ballymaloe relish. The saying: "if you can't make boxty, you'll never meet a man" might be more than a little outdated now. But we'll be the first to admit that we'd find it damn hard to resist anyone who could whip these up for breakfast every morning. If you do prefer something a little less savoury in the morning, J+A's sweet pancakes come with seasonal fruit, whipped cream, and maple syrup. They're also really, really good.
Jackson + Rye
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Jackson + Rye is a New York-inspired brasserie that serves up a modern fusion of French fare and burly American dishes near the bank of England. You might think that means a few of the fineries of each cuisine end up lost in translation, but if that cultural polygamy also gives us Jackson + Rye's beautiful caramelised banana pancakes, then who are we to complain? Wash it down with a bloody mary and fully embrace the benefits of globalisation, buddy.
41 N Audley Street, W1K 6ZP
We love a French bistro. We love brunch. So, a French bistro that does brunch is pretty much a match made in heaven for us. The sophisticated, banquette seated brunch is available at NAC's swanky Mayfair premises on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 – 4:30 pm. If you're feeling all that "wellness" you can go for the açai bowl, or if, like us, you're usually attending brunch to deal with a particularly nasty hangover, you can go H.A.M. on the ricotta pancakes with dulce de leche and banana. They are dulce de-licious.
Where The Pancakes Are
Arch 35a, 85a Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 0NQ
Where The Pancakes Are is – surprise, surprise – a restaurant where there are lots of pancakes. As well as the brilliant buttermilk pancakes that are served all the livelong day, a couple of special P.M. pancakes are also on the menu. One of the particularly stand-out savoury constructions is a pulled beef pastrami effort that consists of two pancakes, slow cooked brisket, cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, gherkins, 1000 island sauce, and kale slaw with toasted fennel seeds. It's what you'd get if a Brick Lane bagel and a pancake had a pleasantly griddled love child that you were then encouraged to eat a la Cronus. During Pancake Day, WTPA will be serving pancakes from 7am till midnight, both in the restaurant and at its pop-up residency at Flat Iron Square's Après chalet. Frankly, anyone who gives the option of having halloumi with your pancake does right by us.
19 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS
Don't call it a pancake, crêpe's been here for years. Mamie's is a crêperie and cidrothèque in Covent Garden that doesn't sell pancakes. No, Mamie's sells crêpes. What's the difference, you ask? Well, crêpes are French pancakes – the wafer-thin kind you'd usually get fresh from a pan and slathered with lemon and sugar. Mamie's are an excellent example of why that distinction matters. The crêpes here are thin, crispy, dangerously addictive, and a far cry from the thick bad boys you'll find in the US of A. An equally slim and satisfying savoury variety, known as galettes, are also available at Mamie's. The latter incorporate the regular omelette stablemates of egg and cheese and make for a great light, lunch-time meal. If you do want a heavier Hergé-inspired snack; however, we'd recommend opting for the 'Capitaine Haddock' – a buckwheat galette with homecooked apples, honey and crumbled Brittany biscuits. C'est magnifique.
Riding House Café
43-51 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PQ
Fitzrovia is a very nice area with no shortage of very nice places to eat. So, rest assured that it takes somewhere really rather extra very nice in Fitzrovia to make us take notice. The Riding House Café is just that place. Nice ambience. Nice juices. Nice food. There's simply not much to dislike at this popular Great Titchfield Street breakfast spot. There's even less to dislike about the pancakes. A stack of buttermilk pancakes with triple-smoked streaky bacon and maple syrup absolutely nails that sweet and savoury amalgam everyone is always banging on about. The next time someone tells you to dip your fries in your milkshake, send them to Fitzrovia instead. They'll thank you later.
Granger and Co.
Bill Granger has successfully brought his brand of vibrant antipodean eating to London in the form Granger and Co. With outposts now in Clerkenwell, Chelsea, King's Cross, and Notting Hill, the Aussie restaurants are great for enjoying a laidback feed that won't have you feeling too bloated down-under. Breakfast is served until 12pm, and it's before that midday cut-off when you'll be able to get a hold of Granger and Co.'s hallowed ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter. The addition of ricotta gives the pancakes with an almost cloud-like texture, taking the starchy circles to gorgeously uncharted territory. There's no denying that these are certainly worth waking up for in the morning.
My Old Dutch
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Getting a pancake from My Old Dutch is an overwhelming experience. Seriously. There are over 40 different types of savoury and sweet pancakes to choose from. That's simply too many types of pancake, if you ask us. Especially when rogue choices like seafood, chicken salsa, and... asparagus are all present and according. As if the menu wasn't bloated enough, My Old Dutch also allow you to go off-piste to bring your own bespoke Frankensteinian pancake creature to life. Despite there being far too much choice, the pancakes themselves are actually pretty good. Just go in with a game plan and try not to get distracted by the never-ending array of options. After all, you can't say they haven't tried to cater to everyone. Even the sick asparagus pancake lovers out there.
58 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR
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The brunch at Pedler is awfully Peckham and awfully good, for that matter. Grab a table next to some aesthetic-as-fuck exposed brick and find that out for yourself. Pedler's ricotta pancakes are lovingly adorned with winter berries, sour cream, maple syrup and mint. What might sound like a mishmash of flavours actually combine to make for an excellent tart treat to the start of the day. The only downside is that the rest of your subsequent meals will feel very much like an afterthought in comparison. Then again, everything pales when compared to pancakes.
1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA
This isn't your "eating pancakes in your pants on a Sunday" kind of place. Going to the Chiltern Firehouse is an experience in of itself and tucking into a stack of esteemed pancakes in a very hush-hush interior is part of that culinary cavalcade. The buttermilk pancakes have the ideal amount of bite, scattered with a generous handful of plump blueberries before being dressed in crème fraîche and maple syrup. The setting might be haughty, but the effect is nothing but humbling – simple ingredients turned into something simply fantastic.