24th September 2018
Perhaps a little style over substance, but that may be the appeal of Scarlett Green in London
I’ve been responsible for organising two hen dos in my time, and it’s been implied that there will be a couple more to sort out on the horizon. The words ‘I’m looking forward to [insert name of friend here]’s hen do’ are often declared, but I usually find, much like New Year’s Eve, that the pressure to have fun can be detrimental to the having of the fun. When everyone is run ragged and broke, hen dos are exhausting and expensive.
But you organise, you spend, you participate, and you smile, because you love the bride more than you love your bank balance, and you sincerely want to celebrate just how vomit-inducingly happy she is.
There’s been chocolate-making, perfume-producing and shot-drinking, but I had yet to tackle the ever-increasingly popular beast that is the bottomless brunch. Well, courtesy of one of my oldest friends, my curiosity was satisfied...and it nearly killed the cat.
They describe their inspiration as being taken from Australian café culture. This is problematic, as one of the great things about Melbourne café culture is that there is no template. Their character comes from the neighbourhood – that’s where it’s drawn from – and it’s difficult to capture a ‘neighbourly’ vibe when you’re a five-minute walk from Oxford Circus underground.
But it’s also about the brunch (particularly the smashed avocado and eggs) and, especially, the coffee, as Melbourne is at the cutting edge of sourcing, roasting and brewing specialities – let the Italians keep their roast!
When I enter Scarlett Green, I don’t immediately think to myself that I’m back in Australia. It’s what you’d expect from a trendy spot in the heart of Soho – clashes-but-it-works interiors, kind-of-hip-hop-kind-of-Latino music, and cool, young staff sporting top-knots and Vans. It may not be unique or a game-changer, but it’s fun, and that’s all we’re asking for.
Our group is around 15, and we’re seated down in the basement where there’s no natural light; it could be 11pm for all we know, but that’s how they get you. The bottomless brunch is a good deal for London: £39.50 per head, inclusive of two courses (one sweet, one savoury), and two hours – yes, two hours – of unlimited Prosecco.
Brunch is always a struggle for me, as I don’t eat eggs, but I opt for;
Savoury: Smashed avocado, charcoal bread, labneh and Aleppo chilli
Sweet: Award-winning banana bread sandwich, mascarpone, berries, almonds and honey
The full menu can be viewed here.
First comes the savoury – a good palm-plus-the-fingers-sized slab of charcoal sourdough, with a generous helping of avocado and get-in-my-belly labneh. Oh, the labneh! Often referred to as the Middle East’s best-kept secret, it’s a type of soft cheese that’s been a staple in Lebanese cuisine for what feels like forever. It packs a flavoursome punch in a way that avocado does not, and it’s divine.
Sadly, for the award-winning banana bread, I enjoy the first course so much that it doesn’t really stand a chance, and it comes second place for me. That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable; you can’t go much wrong with banana bread – that starchy, sweet fruit lends itself perfectly to baking, after all – but Scarlett Green certainly takes it seriously. The texture is consistent, the sweetness isn’t overpowering, and the garnishes are complementary. Maybe it would have stood a better chance with me if it hadn’t been served 1.5 hours after the Prosecco had started pouring.
But herein lies the issue with a bottomless brunch – the first dish is served around 45 minutes to an hour after the waiter announces, ‘Your two hours begin now!’, and it means that the ‘brunch’ plays second fiddle to the ‘bottomless’.
It does what it’s supposed to do, though, especially at a hen do. We all stumble out into the late-afternoon sun, squinting, dazed and confused, but full and – *ahem* – cheerful. I’d certainly recommend a visit to the Instagram generation – this place is a goldmine.