As I walk to work every morning, my pace slows as I pass Granger & Co’s King’s Cross branch in London. The world is a place where all the noise and bustle melts away and where brass, peach tiles and house plants set the tone. A mirror with an angle reflects early light and shines favorably on fluffy flat whites, scrambled eggs, and the faces of those who have ordered them.
The cafe chain has three London locations and sells a concept of Australia. Its website describes it as “sunny,” “easygoing, and generous.” Bill Granger, a Sydney-born chef, is credited with introducing the UK to an Australian-style cafe. He riffed on Australia’s love for minimalist design, healthy living, fresh food, and brunching. Granger’s cafes are not the only ones with this type of restaurant. Other places offer similar food and coffee options, but with laid-back vibes, hipster aesthetics, and similar food (e.g., Farm Girl, Lantana Cafe, Daisy Green in London, Leeds’ Laynes Espresso and South Coast Roast in Bournemouth), which all tell the same story.
Australian breakfasts are a popular choice from Britain to the US and even beyond. New Zealand has also made a significant contribution. Miles Kirby, a Kiwi chef and founder of the Caravan group with five locations, said that the trend’s hallmarks are simply that Oceanians have elevated a meal Britons love. “There’s a rich tradition in the UK of greasy spoons, but I think Antipodeans has refined it. We have improved the service and the quality of the ingredients and created a new approach with a menu that offers something for everyone,” Caravan’s version of the full English is updated with thick-cut bacon, slow-roasted tomatoes and, as Tamper in Sheffield calls it, “the Big Kiwi”. Here, dukkah corn cobs, bubble and squeak are added to the mix.
Flexibility is another hallmark of southern hemisphere-style breakfasts. Many diners are encouraged to customize their order by adding sides such as merguez sausage or roasted field mushrooms, halloumi, kimchi, halloumi, and even making a vegan dish. Kirby says that guests are encouraged to create their dishes and try to provide something for everyone.
There are many old favorites – avocado on toast and baked eggs, granola, and granola – but there are also plenty of healthier, more modern options for all-day meals, like a red Quinoa grain bowl with grilled broccoli and miso Verde or chia and coconut dessert. It works. The proliferation of #aussiebreakfast-related social media posts speaks for itself. A delicious array of rainbow fare, smothered with chili flakes or Instagram’s Amaro filter, is just one example.
This style of dining is known for its delicious breakfasts. Rose Mann, a Melbourne native who opened her Farm Girl Cafe in Notting Hill, London, in 2005, didn’t want to serve unhealthy food. Instead, she wanted delicious, healthy dishes. Nigella Lawson wrote about the vegan version of a BLT sandwich and how it was made with turmeric and bircher muesli. Mann says that ten years ago, people were eating a lot of food supplements and then going to eat out. Mann saw a gap in the market and felt it was urgently needed to close it. Farm Girl wasn’t trying to be included in the now-much-maligned “clean eating” movement. However, Farm Girl’s offering was conveniently integrated with growing interest and support for vegan, gluten- and dairy-free diets. This is the eating that is compatible with an outdoor lifestyle, such as Bondi beach, where yoga before work is a norm. Mann says: “If your not going for brunch at weekend, you are not there.”
These breakfasts are inextricable to the coffee culture, according to everyone. This is a high-end coffee, single-origin, small-batch, with names as natty and their velvety crema tops. Where would millennials or TV satire be without these Oceanic imports? These coffees are as Australasian-inspired as the technicolor breakfasts. Many of the eateries listed here offer both coffee and food. Mann and Kirby agree that this was not common a decade ago.
My conversations with restaurateurs revealed that both Australians and New Zealanders draw from a wide range of ethnic influences. Oceanic breakfasts often include unusual ingredients, such as miso, tahini and XO sauce, pitaya powder or flour. Kirby says, “I’m always searching for new ways to modify ingredients and to challenge them to classic uses.” Kirby attributes this boldness in the kitchen to a curious and itchy-footed culture. “By nature, we travel to expand our minds. Our continent is remote. We can’t simply travel to Spain, France, or Morocco for a weekend. So we take leaps of faith and set ourselves up somewhere else.
It’s funny that these slow, cozy breakfasts, which seem to be a part of being at home in the UK, are from another side of the globe.
Quintessentially Australasian: Our pick of the best breakfasts
This is a popular choice at Lantana and Daisy Green and at Laynes Espresso and Granger. It often appears alongside poached eggs and avocado and some sauce such as pesto or kasundi.
The Daisy Green Group’s award-winning banana sandwich is a mainstay menu item. It’s filled with mascarpone, berries, and Lantana’s banoffee bread is toasted with toffee sauce and grilled banana.
Avocado on toast
Decorated with celery salt and bloody mary pickles at Laynes Espresso, pomegranate and hazelnut dukkah at Lantana and pickled red onions and manouri cheddar at Caravan.
Coconut and tropical fruits at the Daisy Green group or a weekly changing accompaniment from Sheffield’s Tamper.
You can make it sweet or savory. The Farm Girl’s Amazonian berries, almond butter, and chia seeds acai bowl is a hit. Also, Caravan’s red Quinoa number is a big seller, and Lantana’s buddha bowl, which includes cauliflower “rice”, house pickles, and green tahini, is a huge success.