After a nice long lie-in at the weekend, nothing beats a good, leisurely brunch. This week, my dining partner and I ventured to Mel’s, a cool yet casual café/bar in Earlsfield. When we arrived at 11.30am on a Sunday, the place was packed. They don’t take bookings at the weekend, so we settled down on the leather couch in the entrance to wait for a table. After about ten minutes or so, we were shown through to a table. With its mismatched furniture, brightly painted walls hung with vintage record sleeves, and a retro chart soundtrack on the stereo, Mel’s certainly lives up to its “vintage beats and breakfast” tagline.
Mel’s breakfast menu is available all day and offers all the usual suspects – Full English, Eggs Benedict and Florentine, and so on, but both my dining partner and I were intrigued by the sound of baked eggs. While my dining partner enjoyed them with strips of crispy bacon and a generous portion of home-made hash browns, I went for an accompaniment of spinach, mushrooms and applewood smoked cheddar. Perhaps naively (having never had baked eggs before), I had been expecting runny yolks and was initially slightly disappointed when I was greeted with two smiling, solid yellow orbs, but in fact the texture went rather well with the moist, wilted spinach leaves and juicy chunks of mushroom, and the whites had acquired a light fluffiness that I’ve never found before in an egg dish. The cheese was perfectly melted, but the smokiness was at times a little overpowering against the delicate flavours in the rest of the dish, which I found myself having to enhance with a sprinkling of salt. I noticed my dining partner doing the same with her eggs, so I had to wonder whether the kitchen might have forgotten some seasoning. Overall though, we were both pleased with our food.
The baked eggs were filling enough, but my dining partner and I decided to treat ourselves with a second course each. My dining partner couldn’t resist the Strawberry Fields milkshake – fresh strawberries and bananas blended with milk and a fabulously creamy vanilla ice-cream – which she thoroughly enjoyed. I, on the other hand, was tempted by Mel’s granola with Greek yoghurt, honey and fresh berries. The crunchy granola contrasted well with the smooth, creamy yoghurt, while the lavishly drizzled honey added great sweetness. My only quibble was the comparatively stingy serving of berries – just 3 raspberries and 5 blueberries topped the otherwise excellent dish.
Besides the milkshakes, Mel’s offers a range of freshly pressed juices and the usual selection of coffees and teas. My dining sipped on a strong cappuccino topped with a liberal dusting of cocoa powder, while I enjoyed an individual pot of Tea Pigs English Breakfast tea. Service throughout was efficient and friendly, and the comfortable setting makes Mel’s the perfect sort of place to while away a couple of hours. The bill for the two of us came in at just under £15 per head including tip, which is pretty decent for a two course brunch and hot drink in this part of town. So despite some minor flaws with the food, Mel’s still merits a strong four Forks-Up.Mel’s Vintage Beats & Breakfast 573 Garratt Lane Earlsfield London SW18 4ST T: 020 8944 5718