I hadn’t planned to write about The Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park, east London, but by the time I’d tasted some of their food and drunk a great coffee, I thought it was an opportunity not to be missed for the blog. My friend Elsa has just moved and her new home overlooks the park. It’s an area vaguely familiar to me from the days I lived in Islington, but that’s almost 30 years ago, so things have changed quite a bit since then. This part of east London has undergone a noticeable gentrification, which is evident not only in this cafe, but the small ‘village’ nearby – known as either Hackney village or Lauriston village – with its smart restaurants, shops and cafes. The park itself underwent a smartening up with the Olympics in 2012, not to mention the improved public transport services making it a good deal more accessible than when I lived that side of London.
I arrived in torrential rain last night, slightly flustered from getting lost in the one-way system and having to be saved (yet again!) by my iPhone. I really must take to using its sat nav option, as my family do, but I thought I was returning to a kind of home ground and would just instinctively find my way. Big mistake! However, it was lovely to arrive and see Elsa’s new home. She’d invited some other friends too for supper and had cooked us a Tunisian meal – she’s Italian but was brought up in Tunisia – starting with some delicious brik (stuffed pastry parcels), followed by a fabulous fish couscous. It was all so wonderful I would have photographed it for you if not wary of frightening friends from inviting me to supper if they had to worry that I was going to blog their cooking! So you’ll just have to take my word for it – you would have loved it!
Yesterday’s awful weather turned into sun today, though early it was still a little dull, as you can see in the photo above. We walked in the park for a while then stopped at The Pavilion Cafe for brunch. I didn’t want a huge amount as we’d had some cereal earlier but then my thought that I only wanted coffee and a croissant faltered when I saw the food on offer.
Elsa suggested we share, so we ordered Eggs Royale (a kind of Eggs Benedict but with smoked salmon rather than ham), which came in two halves (one each!) and a croissant. We placed our order and then found a table to sit at outside. It was very busy but we managed to get seats right by the edge of the lake, which was lovely.
Our egg dish arrived and when we asked for an extra knife and fork as we were sharing it, the waiter kindly offered to bring an extra plate too.
This was fabulous: perfectly poached eggs covered in a gorgeous hollandaise sauce, on thick slices of delicious smoked salmon and English muffins. We followed these with coffee and croissant.
The coffee was excellent; the croissant was fantastic. It has the taste and buttery, flaky texture of a croissant from a good bakery, not a baked-from-frozen croissant, as you get in some cafes. This was the real thing. Next time I’m going back hungrier! It a wonderful cafe selling top-notch food and just how lucky is Elsa to have it almost literally on her doorstep.
It was such a lovely place to sit on a Sunday morning. When we’d finished we headed through the park to the canal and walked on quite a bit further before looping back to Elsa’s home. There was a lot of activity as we went: cyclists rushing along the towpath, football matches in the park, joggers racing past us, families heading to the playground with kids. And our coffee and snack at the cafe had made it just a perfect kind of Sunday morning.