In celebration of the start of a New Year, my companions and I organised a Sunday brunch to mark the occasion. And where better than what is one of London’s finest brunch spot: The Providores and Tapa Room, the sister restaurant to Kopapa. The restaurant is known for its weekend brunches, which means people are queing outside even in the cold winter months. Located on Marylebone High Street, close to some of my other favourite foodies jaunts including the Natural Kitchen and Roots and Bulbs, this eatery is a New Zealand café/restaurant. And my visit seemed like a homage to the Peter Gordon cookbook I’d picked up a couple of years ago at Marylebone High Street’s Summer Fete.
The venue is a cool mix of a contemporary dining room and all-day wine bar, with a café-like twist. As the double-barrell name suggests, the restaurant is two separate eateries. Whilst the upstairs is the “posh” dining space, downstairs is the no-booking tapa room, which is a breakfast-cum-wine-café-bar and chill out zone for those looking for a lazy spot to settle down. Unfortunately, our reservation for the upstairs Providores wasn’t registered by the restaurant. As they unsurprisingly didn’t have a table available upstairs, we had to wait for a table in the downstairs packed Tapa Room, named after the tapa hanging tapestry adorning the wall. Although very intimate and cosy, it was a tad too noisy for me and difficult to have a proper catch-up in the packed setting.
The creative menu features lots of dishes which seem to mix together sweet ingredients with sour ones and foods you wouldn’t think to put together. To truly enjoy this place, you have to be quite experimental and love interesting food combinations as the food does challenge your taste buds. Surprisingly, the menu is also highly vegan friendly, featuring an array of “Nut-Mylks”. One was composed of Coconut milk, almond butter and strawberry puree (£6) and another of Almond milk, almond butter, Medjool dates, cacao nibs and raw organic cacao (£6). They even had a competing soy milk alternative smoothie of Baobab, blueberry and soy milk (£6). For once, I wasn’t in the smoothie mood. My companion, however, opted for a Tamarillo and kiwifruit smoothie (£5.50) after we learnt from a quick googling that tamarillo is our much loved tree tomato, which we normally enjoy when in Kenya. I had a taster sip and it was a deliciously fresh and exotic.
Foodwise, the list of ingredients that make up each dish can fill a page. I was torn between the Brown rice, apple, maple syrup and miso porridge with tamarillo compote (£6.80) and the Mexican sounding Sweetcorn and blueberry (!) fritters, served with avocado and a pomegranate and rocket salad (£10.50). This reflects the eclectic and fusion-style of cuisine that the Providores and known for and Peter Gordon has pioneered. As I’d been craving fritters for a long while, I opted for the latter. It was definitely a surprisingly dish which I couldn’t work out was more savoury or sweet. With pomegranates, peeled clemintines, blueberry and sweet sweetcorn, it was sweet, but the avocado and my sprinkling of salt and black pepper added something of a savoury twist.
The Providores and Kopapa are probably best known for their take on eggs on yogurt. My companion therefore ordered the Turkish eggs of two poached eggs on whipped yoghurt with hot chilli butter and sourdough toast (£11). The dish looked as exotic as it sounded for the recipe originates from the Changa restaurant in Istanbul. It was incredibly eye-catching, even for a non-egg eater: two beautifully poached eggs with whipped yogurt swirling in a hot chilli layer. Although she found it had a little too much oil, the sourdough provided good dippage usage. My other companion, meanwhile, enjoyed his French toast stuffed with banana and pecans, grilled smoked streaky bacon and vanilla verjus syrup (£10.50), although for him, it was a touch too sweet.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little different for brunch, definitely head to the Providores, but I’d recommend booking a table upstairs.
The Providores and Tapa Room, 109 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4RX