Everywhere else in the world they mark the beginning of Lent with a full-on carnival, consisting of music, dancing and a full-on parade in which everyone dresses up to the nines and has a fabulous time. In Britain we, er, scoff pancakes; Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Day and – let's face it – it's a great excuse
to dust the house in flour and peel batter
from the kitchen ceiling after that over-zealous pancake flip. However, just in case you fancy making it easy on yourself and sampling some of the best pancakes in town, we’ve put together a list of top places to find mouth-watering crêpes, perfect pancakes or fresh Parisian gallettes around London. So put away
your pan and treat yourself to the best of Britain’s capital.
Breakfast Clubs are gradually spreading across London, and for good reason! The clue’s in the name… these guys serve breakfast all day long and high on most customer’s lists are their tasty savoury and sweet American-style pancakes. With a range of options, you can top your pancakes with The All American: eggs, sausage, home-style fried potatoes, streaky bacon and maple syrup, or treat your sweet tooth with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream. Amazing pancakes – not cheap, but, hey, it's only one day a year – splash out!
This little stall, set just back from Hampstead High Street beside the William IV pub, is a Hampstead institution dating back to the mid-1980s. Its secret to success? It gets it right, every time. The crêpes (it doesn’t do anything else) are all made fresh, from a perfect mix, crisped up to perfection with a splash of butter. They do both sweet crepes and savoury gallettes (gruyere cheese, ham, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, is our favourite), and the mainly French staff carry them off perfectly time after time. It’s rare to have a crêpe as good as this in France, let alone London.
The Delaunay, just off The Strand, know how to do pancakes in style. A classy establishment, with dark furnishings and old-school glamour, the pancakes here are served with a good selection of toppings and and come with a jug of maple syrup so you can pour on as much of the sweet stuff as you like.
If it’s the real American feel you’re looking for to accompany your stack of thick pancakes, then The Diner is the place for you. These funky restaurants are decked out pretty authentically, and serve stacks of either three of five pancakes. Not the widest selection, but if you want to branch out there is always their massive breakfast menu to wade through, served all day everyday.
Established in 1958, My Old Dutch is the original London pancake house, and has a good selection of both sweet and savoury pancakes, done Dutch style. On Pancake Day they are famous for their events, ranging from pancake-eating competitions, to frying pan races and pancake flipping contests. If you’d prefer to just enjoy the food, then you can go for simple sugar and lemon; or, for something a little more interesting, you can do pancakes the Dutch way… with ice-cream and a shot of Vermeer, the only liqueur made with real Dutch chocolate! Branches in Kensington, Holborn and Chelsea.
Handily located close to some of London’s best-known attractions, this place is perfect for a tasty break amid running around the sights. Converted from what was once a dairy, it's a stylish place that complements its crêpe selection with no fewer than 24 different flavours of home made ice-cream. It also serves an almost endless selection of savoury options, along with daily specials that make the most of fresh seasonal vegetables.
While these guys by no means specialize in pancakes, this all-day brasserie in Fitzrovia serves breakfast until midday and buttermilk pancakes are a firm favourite on their menu. Made in the thick, American style, they are accompanied by toppings of vanilla clotted cream, blueberries and your very own jug of maple syrup. Don’t pour on too much, you’ll want to leave room for some of the other sumptuous delights on their menu!
We feature the Brum branch of the excellent Botanist group on Cool Places but it's worth knowing that their two London branches – and in particular their original and flagship branch on Sloane Square – do fabulous stacks of delicious American-style pancakes. But they are perhaps best known for a spectacular lobster and mushroom affair that will blow your socks off – not least because it will set you back 30 quid!