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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

London Best Independent Cafés – Pavilion Café

Pavilion Café - Victoria Park, E9

Dr G and I recently had a Saturday morning outing from Islington to Victoria Park, jogging along Regent’s Canal. Tired but exhilarated on one of the few beautiful summer days this year, we staggered to the refurbished lakeside Pavilion Cafe for a reviving breakfast.

The lovely glass rotunda is encircled by a mishmash of tables made from old wooden benches and chairs overlooking a splendid lake and fountain. Apart from the charming location, the real draw is the food which is a real cut above what you might expect in a public park.

Delicious dishes are written up on blackboard walls, with the likes of Eggs Benedict (with ham) @ £6.50 or Royale (with smoked salmon) @ £7, and variations on English breakfast. The ingredients are all well sourced (Ginger Pig meats, Monmouth coffees) and, where possible, organic.

The only downside is the place's popularity - on a sunny day it's invariably over-run. Fortunately, there are more seats next to the lake, so it's worth taking a numbered marker and waiting at one of the tables for your food to arrive.

Normally we go for the Eggs Benedict or Eggs Royale but on this occasion, we opted to try the cafe’s cooked breakfasts. I ordered a “Pavilion Breakfast” @£8 (fried egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom, roast tomatoes, home baked beans and toast).

Dr G had the “Farmhouse Breakfast” @£8.50 (2 eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, homemade beans and toast), with two steaming mugs of orange-brown coloured ‘builder’s tea’.

The breakfast options we chose were of course fairly standard however the quality of the ingredients made all the difference - the black pudding was richly flavoured, with a gamey, spicy quality while the bacon was thick, irregularly cut and with a pleasing texture.

The baked beans were homemade, with the skin of the yielding beans still in place, a delicious, richly concentrated and herby tomato sauce, thankfully lacking the artificial taste of the tinned equivalent. The tea was good and strong as befits this kind of breakfast.

Cost: £8 to £8.50 for the cooked breakfast + £1 per mug of builder’s tea.

Likes: great lakeside location, delicious homemade, organic produce and excellent brunch menu.

Dislikes: On a summer weekend, the place is packed, the kitchen and serving staff struggle to cope and service may vary from charming to plain rude.

Verdict: A wonderful venue for a lazy breakfast or brunch after a night on the tiles. The quality of ingredients is good with prices to match. Recommended.


  1. We also sometimes drag ourselves to the canal for a run, and Victoria Park is about to become our local park, so most pleased to read such a good review - I imagine dodging those 4 wheel drive like buggies/push cars is the only deterrent!

  2. I normally wouldn't bother trying a cafe in a park like this, so good to know this one offers pretty decent food!

  3. Wow, home made beans, now there's something you don;t get with many fry-ups. Those do look superb, and not a bad price either.

  4. @ LexEat - hi sweetheart, I am glad to hear you are not moving too far out! Loved your supper club, and will be posting my review shortly!

    @ Kavey - the food was surprisingly very good, and you couldn't ask for a better location either.

    @ The Grubworm - we were very impressed by the quality of the ingredients, particularly the beans. Dr G HATES baked beans, but he loved these.

  5. @ The Grubworm - I forgot to say - I think there are so many mediocre fry-ups around in £4.50 - £5.50 range, and English Breakfast is not something I treat myself too very often, so I have no problems paying an extra few pounds for better quality. My thinking is that if I am going to treat myself to an English Breakfast with all the trimmings and calories, I might as well choose it well, and the Pavilion Cafe delivers it beautifully.

  6. I quite often ride through Victoria Park on my bike and have been tempted by this place, but am always too hot and sweaty to be socially acceptable! I think next time I'll wander down on foot and take a seat. There's nothing quite like a decent cooked breakfast so I can't possibly ignore a good recommendation.

  7. Wow. This actually looks rather decent. It's the kind of place I would usually avoid - so many cafes in parks are diabolical but that breakfast actually looks pretty damn good.

  8. @ Emma - hi there, I love the look of your blog, and your supper club sounds very intriguing! I got your mail and will get back to you. I recommend Pavilion Cafe, the breakfast is beautifully cooked with some top ingredients.

    @ Helen - indeed it was Helen, I am still to try some of their lunch dishes, but they all looked pretty good by what i have seen.

  9. WOW! little did I know that the cafe actually served food. I bicycle around and to Victoria Park all the time and often sit on the lawn in front of the caf but just thought they sold soft drinks and chips. Next time, I will have to stop for a traditional english fry-up, not sure about the beans though. Good thing, I'm riding my bike!

  10. @ The Wine Sleuth - hi Denise, love going to this place, the eggs benedict are also very good there and I thoroughly recomment them!

  11. Good find London Foodie - I am super impressed if you managed to lug your camera on your run as well!

  12. Bizarrely, although I've lived in East London for six years, it was only a few weeks ago on the same day I tried the nearby Counter Cafe that I first visited Victoria Park. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and as you say, the place was mobbed so we skipped on past to Broadway Market (which was just as busy).

    That does look like a darn fine breakfast and I like to see some bacon and black pudding which I don't recall they had at the Counter. I must confess I am extremely fond of Heinz baked beans that have been cooked until they almost melt into sludge but I'm sure I'd enjoy these homemade ones too!

  13. What a great cafe to enjoy after a good run. I love the idea of serving beans along side the eggs, bacon and sausage. Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  14. @ Gourmet Chick - well spotted Cara! Dr G was cycling there, and he had our two small dogs and the camera in the bike's large bag!

    @ Maison Cupcake - hey Sarah, it is amazing how sometimes we don't go to places or do things around where we live! I used to live in Chalk Farm but never went to the market, but have been going there quite a few times recently. This is a lovely place, and great for kids too.

    @ Velva - thanks for your comment, and you are welcome!


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