Sunday, 9 September 2012

Accidental Eats: The perfect muso brunch, Made in Camden

Camden was buzzing as I picked my way between the tourists and teenagers, with their accompanying parents standing awkwardly in front of the stands of cannabis leaf t-shirts and platform boots covered in studs.  Shop-keepers lurked among their wares, ducking under awnings to keep out of the surprisingly strong September sunshine.  Higher than the awnings, a huge green dragon with LED-filled nostrils stuck onto the facade of one shop glared down at the crowds.  Up and over the bridge by the lock, I wriggled in and out between tiny shorts and sundresses, spying surely the hottest woman in London, dressed head to toe in black satin and lace, with copious petticoats and even a bustle; an ornate black lace parasol keeping the harmful rays off her carefully cultivated translucent complexion.

Once past the cluster of markets, I whisked along Camden High Street, heading up towards Chalk Farm and Camden's famous Roundhouse.  A former engine shed, this odd-shaped building is one of the finest music venues in the city.  For this month of September, the Roundhouse is hosting the iTunes festival, putting on free gigs by artists such as Emeli Sande, Noel Gallagher, Alicia Keyes and Muse.  As I reached the Roundhouse, a gaggle of slightly scruffy-looking music fans were already camped outside the building, coraled by metal fences awaiting the day's gig.

But my destination was no concert hall or intimate studio, instead I was headed for Made In Camden, the eatery on the ground floor of the Roundhouse.  I had been invited to an impromptu brunch with blogging chum, Cool on Demand, who confessed that since her review of the place, she'd been back 4 or 5 times.  Clearly this place had made an impression on her - this was somewhere I had to check out.  I will confess however, that once I arrived, there was not a lot of time for soaking up the atmosphere, as we merrily gabbled away about anything and everything, pausing only to draw breath to order our breakfasts.
As a first time diner, the menu provides quite the dilemma - what to have?  Made in Camden's brunch offerings provide a good balance of tempting sweet and savoury options, to cater to the pickiest of breakfasters.  I eventually plumped for the almond pancakes with apricot compote (compote that was actually three tastily preserved apricots, rather than compote per se), with a side of grill-fresh streaky bacon.  My companion, far more familiar with the menu than I, made a much swifter decision, opting for brioche french toast with berry compote and dollops of mascarpone, which she declared excellent.  However she did mournfully declare that the portion was only about 60% the size of her first taste of this favourite dish.  Alas, service was not with a dazzling smile or remarkably swift (with the exception of a woman at a table next to us who arrived very late for breakfast but received her balsamic mushrooms on toast within mere minutes of ordering), but this is London.  We're not a city known for our friendly service.  And yesterday morning, after a brutally hot early morning run for me and an equally sweaty Bikram yoga session for my fellow bruncher, it was simply enough that there were pancakes and french toast.

When my companion nipped to the loo I took a look around me.  The space itself feels not unpleasantly like a very upmarket canteen. A bar hugs one wall, and slightly 'educational establishment'-esque chairs and tables are ranked in neat lines, each topped with a tiny vase of fresh flowers.  Cutting through the centre of the space is a long wall, covered in a multi-coloured collage of gig posters.  There's no forgetting where you are here, or what's going on just next door.  Reappearing, my brunching companion reported that you could hear whoever was playing the Roundhouse later that day tuning up through the wall. But don't for one second think you could lurk by the toilets to hear a gig...a bouncer was apparently stationed down there to keep diners moving along. You've had your brunch now bugger off!    And so, feeling rather full, we did.  But I imagine we'll both be back...
Made in Camden on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

  1. I like going to Camden. It is one of my guilty pleasures. I love the market, and once you know it, you know where to buy cheap stuff from young designers and it is addictive. As for Made In Camden, it sounds fun but is it kids-friendly? I think that I will stick to Le Pain Quotidien (they know me well now...)

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    1. Depends on the kids, Muriel! I'm sure it could cater to a pair of well brought-up girls; but maybe it's a place to save for civilised quiet brunches with girlfriends instead...

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  2. I love the sound of this place but not the service. I honestly believe you can find both good food and good service under the same roof in this city!! But I'd definitely consider going here, that's for sure.

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    1. Definitely don't let the service put you off, Mandy - the food is certainly worth a visit. Maybe we should start a list of the rare places that manage to combine decent service with good food?!

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