Misty dreary days with spluttering skies seem the idyllic setting for train journeys, a perfect time to simply rest your head against the rattling train window, let your mind wander and watch the countryside roll by. These days I grow ever fonder of what should be a long and bleak journey on a slow train, which is remarkably lighter on my budget yet heavier on my time.
Spring’s rainy yet warming embrace has painted the fields of England golden yellow and vibrant green, speckled with grazing lambs, calfs and ponies. Today the sky seeps down towards the earth in an enveloping fog and unannounced sporadic drizzle, but alas, it’s not such a sullen scene, perhaps refreshing, alternate, melancholic (in the best of ways). Looking downwards the carriage I glance towards fellow train goers, heads bobbing in sync with the sways and bumps of the train rattling over the tracks. A serenity fills the air.
An unexpected bout of design interviews brings me back to London, and I have to peel myself away from the comfort of my home town, Coventry. Undeniably, London hosts the best selection of food havens, and for this London is my secret pleasure, a reason to always bring me back – air pollution, the housing crisis and general high expense of living aside…
Post-interview come down my stomach gurgled for attention, and I made my way from the hustle and bustle of Old Street to the (seemingly constantly regenerating) area of Tottenham Court road. From memory I had spotted a Fernandez & Wells, a fantastic rustic, yet modern, restaurant/cafe I had once visited a branch of in South Kensington, not far from the V&A and Natural History Museum. Memories of a delightfully simple and more-ish chorizo omelette served on sourdough perforated my memory and I skipped in search for another culinary adventure.
A choice of handcrafted gourmet sandwiches and cakes welcomes you upon arrival, alongside a sympathetic staff member understanding of your food dilemma. The scent of sizzling meats, eggs and fresh toasted bread lingers, and you undoubtedly will find yourself in a seat without second thought. Spoiled for choice, the menu offers a selection of meals in assigned ingredient and plate sections; egg, toast/buns, tin plates, small plates, meats and cheeses. The dishes boast Mediterranean, Eastern European and North African influence, yet offer simplicity served with quality ingredients.
The Chorizo Omelette, a clear favourite among fellow F&W goers, beckoned, but what’s life without a little variety? After expressing severe indecisiveness to several members of staff I finally had in front of me a gem sent from the food gods: Taktouka.
Reminiscent of Shakshouka, a tomato based sauce with poached eggs, Taktouka is North African inspired; a silky yet chunky cooked tomato and sweet roasted pepper base, with a poached egg in the centre and surrounded by slices of toasted sourdough. Drizzled generously with olive oil, herbs and some spices that I could not quite discern (a smoky, yet fragrant cumin style spice comes to mind), this dish warmed where the weather couldn’t. Dunking my sourdough into the gooey golden egg yolk, sipping a silky almost liquor fragranced latte, and watching the Londoners flee from the rain outdoors, I sunk into my chair and let the Spring weather wash over the city.