Pancakes may be avaliable all year round, but Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday February 28 2017) is 'Fat Tuesday' in Christian tradition, when rich ingredients are purposely used up before the fast of Lent. Whether you're preparing for a fast or simply after some mouthwatering stodge, brace yourself for a battering at these London pancake venues.
The best pancakes in London
If you head to Christopher's on any old morning, you can explore their buckwheat pancake menu. But for Shrove Tuesday the Covent Garden eatery is laying on a spread of three pancake bases - buckwheat, buttermilk and blueberry-buttermilk. Fill out a tick box menu to select your base and put in your order of topping with the kitchen to ensure you do pancakes your own way.
A good range of sweet and savoury fillings is offered at this fast food café chain, along with a small selection of pastries including waffles. The crepes are filled then reheated to order, and the service is quick and friendly. There are also branches in Islington, Chiswick, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford and Wimbledon.
Venue says: “Join us for our new flambée menu that includes a mixed leaf salad, classic tarte flambée, a glass of wine or beer, plus tea or coffee.”
This ‘grand café’ (brasserie) in the Continental mould has some of the most sought-after tables in London right now. The weekend brunch menu includes a pancake section, with fillings such as maple syrup, bacon, blueberries and crème fraîche, and cranberry and pear compote.
If you’re craving a crêpe (and can’t afford a Eurostar ticket), Le Merlin in Clapton is the place to be. They’ve taken the idea of a crêperie very seriously, offering a simple pancake-only menu. Crêpes are divided into savoury and sweet options, with classic flavour combos alongside more experimental numbers. This Gallic joint is best on the classics - stick with the ham, gruyère and egg or the lemon cream and grilled almond crêpe, which tastes like a heavenly tarte au citron.
Venue says: “We're a unique and colourful Breton crêperie located in Covent Garden. Crêpe and cider lovers, you are in for a fantastic treat!”
A French twist on pancake tradition comes to Covent Garden at Mamie's, serving crêpes, galettes and cider. The galettes – a French savoury pancake made with buckwheat flour – had the chewiness of a dosa with the buttery crispiness of a crêpe, which you can order laden with emmental, garlic mushrooms, thin-cut ham and a runny egg. Things are almost as good on the sweet side of the menu. The La Gauguin crêpe is a wonderfully boozy mess of flambéed banana and chantilly cream, which arrives at the table literally on fire.
Unsurprisingly for a restaurant dedicated entirely to pancakes, My Old Dutch has very, very long queues of hungry crepe fans every Shrove Tuesday without fail. Either get in there a day early or be prepared to wait. The restaurant also has branches in Kensington and Chelsea.
This crêperie in Hammersmith is the real deal, offering made-to-order buckwheat galettes with savoury fillings such as classic ham and cheese, as well as sweet crêpes containing nutella and banana, or crème de marrons (chestnut). Stylish surroundings and Breton cider add to the appeal.
Pancake Day specials in London restaurants
You know what’s better than pancakes and syrup? Pancakes and booze. Balans’ Pancake Day menu (available across all branches) reads more like a cocktail list, with black cherry and kirsch or orange and Grand Marnier to choose from. There’s even a Slap On The Rum pancake, finished with roasted pineapple, ginger and pirate measures of rum syrup.
International culinary mash-ups abound at Burdock, so you should hardly be surprised to hear they’re making a pancake freakshake for Shrove Tuesday. The ‘Freak-Pan-Shake’ combines New York-style cheesecake, cookie dough, pancake dough and berries and is topped with three mini pancakes. Get literally everything out of your system before Lent.
If you like piña coladas, The Book Club’s the place to be. They’ll be flambéing up a storm in the kitchen to make piña colada pancakes topped with pineapple, coconut cream and a caramel and rum sauce (cocktail umbrella compulsory). Or check out the mac ‘n’ cheese pancake sandwich if savoury is more your bag.
Just like Jesus rose from the dead, the Elvis makes its return to Foxlow. First seen in ice-cream sandwich form, the filthy mix of ricotta, peanut butter, maple bacon and roasted banana is given a Pancake Day revamp not to be missed, available at Chiswick, Balham and Clerkenwell branches. If you’re not a fan of the King, order classic lemon and sugar or mushroom, egg and bacon pancakes instead.
Buttermilk pancakes make a timely return to the Ivy Market Grill’s menu this Shrove Tuesday. Here, you’ll find a slightly more saintly twist on the tradition of getting battered before Lent, with buttermilk pancakes made classy by Greek yoghurt, fresh berries and warm strawberry sauce.
It’s a week-long pancake party at French restaurant L’Escargot, where it’ll be all about the crêpes, of course. Classic French flavours will top lighter-than-air pancakes, taking in savoury and sweet. But what’s even sweeter is that half of proceeds will go to youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.
Lionel Richie’s favourite place to celebrate Shrove Tuesday is VQ Bloomsbury, where he can eat them all night long (okay, don’t quote us on that). What is an actual fact though is a menu that starts at 8am, serving classic lemon, Nutella and banana or apple crumble pancakes. They’ll be tossing into the early hours, with pancakes for £3.95 for two available all day and night.
More on Pancake Day in London
Where the Pancakes Are
Who doesn’t love a pancake? That’s the simple premise behind this bright new addition to Southwark’s Flat Iron Square, and it seems to be working – I had to wait 20 minutes to get a table on my visit. It’s easy to see why: the buttermilk beauties served here have just a hint of sourness, managing to be substantial and moist without stodginess. In other words, flipping perfect. The intriguing menu is split into sweet and savoury. Take the Hummingbird, for example, with cinnamon poached pineapple, crushed meringue and a scattering of delicate flowers. Fancy, eh? Or the Instagram-ready Dutch Babies, which are baked in an oven and served in a heavy black frying pan, from which they billow like enormous Yorkshire puddings blotched with goat’s cheese, cheddar and parmesan. Sure, it’s a bit more fiddly than a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sugar, or frazzled strips of bacon with a glug of maple syrup, but those are on the menu too if you’re in the mood for something more straightforward. The dining space is covered in soft woods, with a white powdered ceiling and a wall of felt discs that dampen the hubbub around you. The light fittings resemble upturned stacks of pancakes with leafy vines spilling over the sides and large bulbs with spiraling filaments; when viewed from the roomy mezzanine, they become fetching hanging planters. In short, Where the Pancakes Are makes a great brunch or lunch option as well as a nice place to go on your own if you’re looking for somewhere to cos