Best brunch in northern North London
French toast is a misnomer. It conjures up the idea of something posh, probably topped with foie gras or something else ethically questionable.
I grew up thinking French toast was the kind of thing Sarkozy put in his rider when he went on diplomatic visits. In my house we called it eggy bread. We ate it with ketchup. We said it while doing a Peter Kay impression. In our minds, there is nothing less french than white bread dipped in milk and egg, then fried.
We were right. It was invented in Rome in the fourth or fifth century, and most famously cooked in Germany. Neither of those revelations explain why the best way to have it is with British bacon and Canadian maple syrup – with a side of presumably Asian cinnamon bananas. But someone, somewhere, did it, which meant that years later one exceptionally hungover man in yuppy yuppy Crouch End had himself a lovely brunch in an even lovelier place, then went away and scoured Wikipedia to impress some strangers on the internet. He also took a picture of said brunch, now mostly to piss of the self-righteous pricks self-involved enough to think that someone taking a picture of their food could possibly affect their evening.
And I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if the toast was a little cold by the time it arrived, and it came with a pointless, slightly infuriating garnish of curly parsley. Frustrating to eat at the best of times, curly parsley should never arrive on the same plate as a banana. Especially when the said man feels really rather nauseous already. Still, that was the only pretension in the Haberdashery, which is a wonderful bit of faux-country café culture in the centre of London, complete with rustic wooden tables too small for the purpose, mismatched wooden chairs and even some bunting on the outside. For the hungover like us, the coffee was served in hearty mugs, the cappuccinos in enormous bowls and the smoothies long and full of supposed super-foods. Our pleasingly deadpan waiter, who I sincerely hope is on suicide watch by the owners, also soothed my aching head and alcohol shakes.
There is no finer place to spend an hour or two in existential crisis, sure that the sky might fall on your head at any moment, and that if it doesn't there is NO EFFING WAY you are EVER drinking again. In fact, we felt so unhurried that when the free tap water finally arrived with the bill we waited around for 30 minutes until we had finished it, soaking up the atmosphere and gathering the strength to leave such a lovely place. Then we went back to the pub.