Pancake Day: The best in London, from Where The Pancakes Are to Fuwa Fuwa
Pancakes aren't just for Pancake Day— why confine the joy of a bacon-laden stack of carbs or a syrup-drizzled crêpe to just 24 hours a year? — but Shrove Tuesday does make for a perfect excuse to indulge. This year, it falls on February 21.
The dish is one of the world’s oldest: the Ancient Greeks are said to have eaten them — maple syrup not so much — with ‘pancakes’ referenced in poems from the time. The word itself is decidedly more modern, but still fairly long in the tooth, having been used since the 15th century.
History aside, if your pancake-tossing skills fall a little flat — is that one from last year still stuck to the ceiling? — then leave the batter in the hands of a professional. Whether you have a sweet tooth or feel the need for cheese, fancy a brunch fix, or an all-day feast, there are pancakes of all kinds across town.
Where The Pancakes Are
As is perhaps obvious, the menus at this pair of pancake houses consist entirely of battered treats, with stacked portions teamed with anything from Welsh rarebit to banana, from smashed avocado to pulled-beef pastrami. Want to go deep dish? Try their Dutch Babies, an American take on a German pancake that somewhat resembles a Yorkshire pudding.
W1 and SE1, wherethepancakesare.com
For elegant surroundings in which to enjoy a well-stocked pancake menu, there are few places that beat The Delaunay. This European-style grand café from the Wolesley Hospitality Group serves up buttermilk pancakes with three types of toppings: get maple syrup with bacon or without, or go for blueberries and crème fraiche.
55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB, thedelaunay.com
Many pancakes claim to be light and fluffy – but those hopefuls have met their match with Fuwa Fuwa. In the hands of Japanese pastry chefs, the pancake becomes the soufflé pancake: more than an inch tall, these desserts have a seriously aerated, wobbly centre. Fuwa Fuwa — fluffy fluffy — is their first permanent London home, where they are served with toppings including blueberry and yuzu cheesecake, and a heady mix of honeycomb butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup.
Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1AE, fuwafuwapancakes.com
This Breton-style Richmond bistro goes aux francais for its pancake menu, offering an extensive menu of traditional buckwheat galettes. Fill these folded parcels with traditional fillings like egg, cheese, and ham — known as a Complète — and a speciality Roquefort, celery, walnuts, and onion sauce, or go rogue with a king prawn and leek option. Alternatively, keep it simple, with a plain pancake and a glass of buttermilk on the side, or head to ‘Les Desserts’ for the sweet choices. Top value, too.
11 Hill Rise, Richmond, TW10 6UQ, chez-lindsay.co.uk
La Petite Bretagne
If you go crazy for crêpes, then you’re in good company at La Petite Bretagne. At their Hammersmith home, enjoy savoury crêpes inspired by Alpine favourites like Tartiflette (Reblochon cheese with potato, bacon, crème fraiche, and onion) or Savoyarde (raclette cheese with gherkin, ham, potato, and onion). Sweet treats come in myriad forms including a flaming Crêpe Suzette and one filled with Speculoos, a Belgian biscuit spread. There’s also a set menu to follow, with the choice of any savoury followed by any sweet.
5-7 Beadon Road, W6 0EA, lapetitebretagne.co.uk
Hoppers probably isn’t what you’re expecting from a pancake restaurant — but the dish is so important to this South Asian favourite, it’s actually named after one. A hopper is a Sri Lankan coconut (sort of) pancake that is traditionally served as an accompaniment to curry. At these popular hotspots — ready yourself for a bit of a queue to get in — the crisp, bowl-shaped pancakes are served either plain or which a runny fried egg at the centre, ripe for dipping into the likes of fragrant crab ‘kari’ or an indulgent black pork version.
N1, two locations in W1, hopperslondon.comâ
Granger & Co
Granger & Co may only do one pancake, but boy is it a pancake to contend with. The Aussie breakfast connoisseurs love a superfood or two, but that doesn’t mean a little indulgence isn’t appreciated every now and then. Mornings at Granger & Co mean a stack of ricotta hotcakes, topped with slices of banana and a good drenching of honeycomb butter.
SW1, EC1, N1, W11, grangerandco.com
This Brixton Market café takes its French crêpes and galettes on a little tour of São Paulo before they reach the plate. Their Brazilian-influenced menu takes French classics as well as the Brazilian El Egg Ranchero (chorizo, egg, onion, tomato chutney, beans, jalapeños, guacamole, and parsley). To finish off, throw a sweet-toothed fiesta with the Coco Loco – Belgian chocolate with coconut, ice cream, and a splash of rum.
42 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PS, senzalacreperie.co.uk
What is Shrove Tuesday?
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
The 40 days leading up to Easter are called Lent, and are known as a time of fasting.
Shrove Tuesday was the last chance to use up eggs and remaining ingredients beforehand.
On Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confessions and were absolved from their sins, or “shriven”.
A bell would be rung to call people to confession, which was known as the “Pancake Bell” and is still used today.
Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9.