Monday, 12 July 2010
Note: Lumen cafe is no more. Well, it's not run by Charlotte Jarman any longer - she and the cafe parted ways two weeks ago, because the charity that managed the cafe were a bunch of awkward buggers who made her life hell. It's their loss - Charlotte can now be found cooking part time at the superb Clerkenwell Kitchen. Hurrah for her!
My friend Charlotte Jarman (the best cook I know) and her friend Kate de Syllas have opened a wondrous cafe just a stone's throw from King's Cross. In what seems to be a desert of good places to eat, they are serving exciting food that is a mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and British flavours, all impeccably and ethically sourced. Charlotte has worked as the Greener Food project manager at London Food Link (part of Sustain), and knows a thing or two about how to run a restaurant that sources its food locally, using meat, dairy and fish that has been responsibly farmed and fished, and above all, selecting ingredients that taste gorgeous.
Everything you will eat at Lumen Cafe tastes as though sunshine is bursting out of it - fresh, interesting ingredients that are all from great British farms. Fear not, though, you don't get its ethics rammed down your throat - the cafe's sourcing policies are discreetly written up on chalk boards, should you so wish to get a bit more info.
I popped in for lunch recently and blissed out on the following...
Sweetcorn bhaji with mixed leaves and raita: very sexy flavours. I even liked the raw onions, because Kate had done something magical to them by steeping them in lime juice and adding mustard seeds, annihilating the oniony aftertaste:
Tortilla with garlic aioli: I had an OMG moment with the aioli, and requested an extra bowl with bread to dip in it. The tortilla was very satisfying too, and did its best to soak up my hangover.
Vanilla sponge cake topped with whipped cream and Chegworth Valley strawberries: worth walking barefoot across crushed glass for...just dreamy!
I would have liked to have lingered there all afternoon, eating dish after dish. I know that the brownies served here are exemplary - I use Charlotte's recipe again and again, it's the best one I know. Lumen Cafe's prices are extremely reasonable, especially when you consider the high calibre of the ingredients. You'll average about £6 for a good sit-down meal. Even the sandwiches are something to be celebrated: Charlotte and Kate insist on good bread from Born & Bread, stuffing it with delectable fillings such as roast chicken and herb yoghurt, or homemade egg mayonnaise. Yum!
Get over there and prepare to undo at least one button on your jeans in honour of the feast. Oh, and hurrah for their glowing review in Time Out...they well deserve it!
88 Tavistock Place
London WC1H 9RT