Travelling Foodie Review: Caffe Forum (South Kensington, London)

As I’ve mentioned before, I like nothing better than a leisurely stroll on a Sunday morning in London. I rarely get the opportunity to be in London, so I like to make the most of it.

Exactly 7 days after my imperfect visit to Cafe Phillies, I found myself in London again, this time with my OH. I don’t go for months on end, and then two weeks in a row. The world works in funny ways. We were in a similar area again too, but this time I decided to try somewhere different. My general rule on holiday is to eat as much as possible in as many places as possible, so since it had only been seven days I figured that rule kinda applied to this situation too. That and we were about a 25 minute walk away and and my stomach was much louder than my wandering feet. I used my trusted set of apps to find a hopefully reputable place for breakfast and forced my OH to remove himself from the comfy hotel bed and pack. I’m mean like that! When I’m up, I’m up. And I usually want breakfast. Even before the Whole 30 challenge I could only forego breakfast shortly after waking if I was exercising.  Milling around on an early empty stomach is not my thing!

I found that there was a cafe literally a minute from our hotel, and with several others within a 10 minute walk I was happy that, if it was empty (as per my empty/staff outside rule mentioned previously) we could walk on and find another.

So, doing Whole 30 I was nervous already. My OH is trying to be supportive but he’s very much a “well what will it hurt if you have bacon/sausage/toast/beans” etc. He’s just not really onboard.

Arriving at Caffe Forum I was, as with the week before at Phillies, pleasantly surprised to find it already quite busy. Not full, but there were several tables already there. The place is quite small and the tables extremely close together – a bit too close, really. I’m slim and had to soft of shimmy between two tables to sit down.

Now, due to my current Whole 30 challenge, I wanted a little cafe where I could be a bit picky but still have a good meal – I was hoping Caffe Forum, just steps from the hotel, would fit the bill. It had a good reputation when I did my usual ‘background checks’ so I was hopeful.

I was also slightly disappointed.

The customers that were there? I think many were tourists/visitors, like us, whereas Phillies was full of primarily locals. Eat where locals eat and you’ll usually get a good meal.

Now, firstly – ordering and the menu. I couldn’t find a printed one, just the giant one above the cash desk on a black board. This wasn’t a problem for us, but I imagine those who’ve forgotten their glasses might have trouble.

It’s also not made clear anywhere, but you have to order at the cash desk – again not a problem, but a sign would be handy. Perhaps on the giant black board? What they also don’t tell you – or at least we weren’t – is to keep hold of your receipt because it has an order number on it, and the staff just call out the number as they bring out your meal! Cue faffing in purse – not the stress-free start to my Sunday I wanted!

Right, backwards a bit. I got a fresh mint tea, and my OH got a regular tea. No fancy pot this time, but I already knew this wasn’t as fancy as Phillies so I hadn’t been expecting one. However, having to fetch and fill tiny plastic cups for my morning water intake? That wasn’t cool. A jug of water would of been nice, or even actual glasses to drink out of. I counted – we had to shimmy round the little tables three times for more water.

Fresh mint tea from Caffe Forum
A lovely fresh mint tea

Order wise – English wasn’t our server’s first language, so enquiring about what oils they used wasn’t easy. All I could get out of her was ‘oil’. I gave up. I went for 2 eggs, fried (I wanted poached because ‘oil’ could mean anything, but apparently they don’t offer than as an option) and tomato from the ‘Build your Own’ menu, plus a fruit salad; my OH went for a Full English, which comes with 1 fried egg, 2 bacon rashers, 2 sausages, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, toast and orange juice (supposedly – read on!).

My fruit salad came out first, and was heavy with what I hope was just juice. The large amount of liquid meant it didn’t look that appetising, which is a shame because it was full of some lovely fruits, although very carb-sugar based ones -mango, pineapple, grapes and also melon. I think I got the last of the batch, because another came out a few minutes later that looked much less juicy and also more varied – they had bananas! And apples!

Liquid and Fruit Salad
Copious amounts of liquid in my fruit salad… no wonder they serve it with a spoon! Yummy fresh fruit though.

A few moments later, my two eggs came, with their tomato. What they meant by tomato was ‘a slice of’. It looked kid of pitiful. I thought ‘tomato’ meant, well, a whole tomato, or at least half one. Perhaps there was a tomato shortage in Kensington that day? My OH’s Full English looked much more up to par (also with a slice of tomato rather than half or a full one) and he dug in with gusto. We realised at the end he never did get a lovely glass of orange juice to wash it down with but by that point the place was too crammed to bother trying to shimmy around to enquire about it. We kept having to shift our table so others could get in to their tiny table. At one point I took the table used plates from our neighbours and stacked them with my own, since I had finished and they’d run out of room! A few more actual staff to clear tables would of been nice – as I’ve said before I don’t like being sat in front of dirty plates for a long time.

Not so keen on their presentation...
Not so keen on their presentation… and they prematurely broke my yolk! Sacralidge!

Summary:

Although cheaper than Phillies, you do get what you pay for. I didn’t enjoy this breakfast anywhere near as much – the crammed space and constant shifting to make room meant we never really felt ‘relaxed’, just rushed. The forgotten orange juice, lacklustre tomato and lack of staff in general just meant that what could of been an ok, pretty cheap sit-down breakfast turned into a stressful “are-we-done-yet” breakfast instead.

I feel bad, because the place has some great reviews and maybe I just ordered wrong (although with my current diet, it was pretty much my only choice!) but I just didn’t get the vibe here. The food is alright, and for a quick breakfast in South Kensington, Caffe Forum is certainly not a bad choice, however, if you’re after something a bit more upscale, or welcoming, or leisurely, perhaps try somewhere else.

Rating: 5.5/10

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