The restaurant: Florentine, 6 Hercules Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7DU
‘Florentine’ first makes me think of spinach and second of those chocolate biscuits. So, we arrived via Lambeth North in search of Hollandaise-drizzled eggs and spinach. The brasserie-styled restaurant offers a bit of everything — salads, flat breads, burgers, fish — but the big deal is brunch. There’s a full stretch of self-assured egg dishes: Florentine, Benedict, and Royale, nestled beside the trendier truffle scrambled eggs and baked shakshuka breakfasts. The ostrich egg is the showpiece, so we thought we’d have one of those — I thought I’d crack one of those. Did you know an ostrich egg is equivalent to 25 hens’ eggs? Neither did we until the server bought the huge egg over to us and we gawped at it then agreed to stick to hens’ eggs.
It was a sunny Saturday when we sought refuge by propping up the cool Florentine bar. We plonked ourselves down for nuts, olives and margaritas, exactly what a lazy afternoon required. The charming bar staff make divine margaritas and my pal felt heaps better after that Bloody Mary. The interiors ooze hotel bar, but with the place leading through to a hotel, you can forgive it. We drank in the air con and admired the musical ambience that the quiet DJ was laying on beside the reception desk.
We traded off the believable brunch for a three-course dinner with eggs making the main. I’ll spare you my portmanteaus I came up with for this meal. We started with Iberico Bellota, a deliciously generous plate of dry-cured ruby-red ham. It was brilliantly flavoursome and I wondered if I should have asked for a side of it with my eggs. It was the only cured meat on the menu; someone decided it was the best, so why bother with the rest? We tee’d this up with some buffalo ricotta ravioli, which from my experience is always served up smaller than I’d hoped, but that’s all the more reason to savour this super rich dish.
The eggs Royale arrived next and it was good. My standard of eggs and hollandaise is as follows: eggs shouldn’t be overcooked; Hollandaise shouldn’t be vinegary; muffin should be toasted. Florentine did the lot, very well. My pal chose Shakshuka. It wasn’t the saucy tomato classic I usually cook up, but a baked melange of aubergine, tomatoes and courgettes topped with parsley and poached eggs. Don’t forget to order the rustic rosemary bread on the side. We rounded the whole thing off with cheesecakes and coffees, hours later than when we sat down. Life’s all about the long, drawn out brunch.
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To book call 020 3146 5800 or click here to visit the Florentine website.