Thursday, February 6, 2020

A Visit to One of London's Most Instagrammable Cafes

A Visit to One of London's Most Instagrammable Cafes
Dress: ASOS
Imagine a place where almost everything is pink, draped in flowers and decorated with pink pastries and cakes everywhere you look, a place where even the savoury food is pink... This is the magical world created by EL&N Cafe, a London hotspot I've been stalking on Instagram for what feels like forever. Having seen it in photos time after time, I finally made a plan to check it out myself and I can promise you it lives up to the hype. EL&N Cafe is not only beautiful and worth the Instagram photos - it serves the best coffee I think I've ever had and the food is just as delicious!

EL&N Cafe Bicycle with Flowers

There are several locations across London and from what I can tell, each one is slightly different. I won't be surprised if I end up checking out every last one of them before it's all said and done, but to start I looked for the one most local to me, which just so happens to be in South Kensington. Because these types of cafes tend to be overrun with influencers and tourists, I decided to go on Sunday morning first thing and I was lucky I did... It was empty at 8am on a Sunday morning before anything else in the area opened including the museums which didn't open until 10am, so we had the run of the place and could take our time which was so nice. When the cafe is busy, there's a 45 minute limit on tables, but we must've stayed for a leisurely 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Neon Sign that says Adventure Awaits, But First Coffee with flowers overhead

I never expect much when I visit places like EL&N, figuring that all the hype along with the Instagram-worthy decor are all that's needed to draw a crowd, but I was pleasantly surprised by this chic cafe. Though the service was quite slow despite us being the only customers for at least 40 minutes, the staff were extremely friendly and everything we ordered was flawless. The menu is extensive - this is not just a spot for tea & cake and there are lots of healthy choices, vegetarian & vegan options and as far as I can tell, something for everyone despite any dietary restrictions. 

"you can do it" - coffee quote on floor of EL&N Cafe

First up is the drinks order and it seems that at a coffee shop it should be pretty straightforward if you consume as much brew as I do, but there are so many options at EL&N that it can take a minute to decide. I went determined to try one of the colourful lattes I've seen on Instagram... The cafe is famous for it's blue, green and red Instagram-worthy lattes that have pictures in the foam like pandas or hearts, but in the end I opted for my usual skinny latte because I had been up since 5:30am and coffee was definitely needed. It was so delicious that I ended up ordering a second. My husband ordered a V60, which is some sort of triple filtered coffee and it was absolutely lovely, although in my opinion not quite hot enough. Whatever you choose, from juices to teas, regular coffee or one of the bespoke latte options, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's clear from the get-go that EL&N aims to please. 

eggs on pink toast with flowers, seeds and smoked salmon

I only intended to get some sort of pastry for breakfast, but after seeing the menu I was successfully tempted to order a heartier breakfast. We did however get some small pastries to start... It was an early morning and we were starving, having already been up for several hours without eating, so the miniature buttery croissants were a welcome snack. I settled on the Eggs Your Way, which includes two free range eggs cooked to your liking on bespoke toasted pink sourdough bread. I added the smoked salmon and it was perfection. Yes, you read that right... The toast is pink and the dish comes covered in gorgeous flowers, sprinkled with seeds, topped with perfectly pink smoked salmon tucked into a pretty little roll and it's just beautiful. It's almost too pretty to eat, but once I tucked in I devoured it. The salmon was lemony, the toast was the perfect texture, my poached eggs perfectly cooked and the seeds were the perfect, crunchy addition. 

Pink Bircher Muesli at EL&N Cafe

My husband ordered the Pink Bircher Muesli, a dish with granola that's soaked in apple juice, oat milk & coconut yogurt, topped with apples, candied peanuts, mixed nuts, blueberry powder and mixed berries. It's just about the prettiest breakfast cereal I've ever seen and makes healthy eating look fun and chic. 

Breakfast at EL&N Cafe

While we were eating our breakfast I couldn't help but notice the vibe... The music playing included Lady Gaga, JLo and Pittbull. The atmosphere felt young and fun, but yet still quite professional and not at all childish. I could't help thinking that if Gossip Girl took place in London today that it wouldn't be unusual to see Blair and Serena having lattes in such a place. 

Red velvet cake and a skinny latte at EL&N Cafe

Of course no trip to EL&N would be complete without something sweet... The red velvet cake caught my eye as soon as I walked into the cafe. Maybe it was the sheer size of the cake or maybe it was the multicoloured, pastel, mermaid unicorn sprinkles covering the top... Whatever it was, I made a good decision - the red velvet cake at EL&N is dreamy! Super moist, dense, red velvet sponge with sugary sweet icing on the outside, plenty of sprinkles and a buttercream icing between layers on the inside. The slices are huge, so it's worth getting one to share unless you're up to the task of finishing it yourself.

Giant Haribo

Between orders I had some time to wander around the cafe and check out the whimsical decor. It's such a fun space that it feels like a real treat just to be there. Everything is beautifully pink including the plush velvet furniture and shiny, pink lacquer tables. Candy machines line the wall of the back room with Pick a Mix printed on the mirror. There's a giant scoop of oversized stuffed Haribo toys in one corner and life sized candy stick replicas along the walls. It's like a grown up version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory if Mr. Wonka was obsessed with pink.

pink pastries

As far as prices go, EL&N is not the cheapest of the cafes I've been to in London for coffee & breakfast, but it's worth it. I feared the price tag would simply reflect the decor, but as I said above, the food was impeccable so it really felt worth it. We ordered quite a lot and spent around £50, which to be fair isn't the most expensive breakfast I've had in London by far. It's definitely a treat if you're on a budget, but there are so many options on the menu at all price ranges, so don't let that deter you. You could easily grab a coffee and a pastry or cake without breaking the bank, but if you have a bit more to spend, I suggest indulging in a hearty breakfast because it's beautifully presented and the quality is exceptional. 

pink toast with eggs and flowers

EL&N Cafe has 8 locations in and around London, including Bicester Village. The Brompton Road location I visited is perfect for tying in with a trip to the V&A, the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum if any of those are on your list of things to do as it's just across the street. If you love all things pretty-in-pink, it's worth noting that EL&N has a retail line selling things like coffee cups, stationery, coffee beans and water bottles as well as a new unisex clothing line called i.am. Unfortunately, the cafe doesn't take reservations so you have to just try your luck and brave the queue if need be, but the table time limits help to make the waiting time go faster. The Brompton cafe is open 7 days a week from 8am to midnight, so if you're really keen, but hate to wait, it's worth going early to get in when they first open or it might be a good idea to try getting in late at night after the rush dies down. For more information, to plan your visit or to shop the retails lines, visit elnlondon.co.uk
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