Made in Camden, Chalk Farm
Chalk Farm Road
Chalk Farm NW1 8EH
020 7424 8495
by Poppy Tartt
It’s four years since I wrote a breakfast review. But it’s not four years since I ate breakfast, thankfully, and I have continued to form opinions of my breakfasts, albeit privately. Welcome to the site of my first public breakfast opinion in four years. The venue is Made in Camden, the Roundhouse’s mysteriously underperforming eaterie. The location is promising. The food is good. In fact, this is my fifth visit. But perhaps there’s something wrong with me, because nobody else seems convinced. The restaurant is often barely a quarter full, great big airport lounge of a space that it is. This may be because working out how to gain access is unusually challenging, especially the morning after the etc. (Look for the strangely inconspicuous three-metre-wide door to the right of the frontage.) It’s almost as if the architect were briefed to design a room large enough to accommodate everybody who’s ever been to the Roundhouse (and a door that could admit ten of these people abreast). I’m only exaggerating slightly.
But let me tell you about the food. I always order the fritters – previously sweetcorn, now a chickpea/courgette composition – served with bacon, avocado, sour cream, chilli jam and salad leaves. Once a diehard opponent of salad-at-breakfast, I have made a frenemy of my foe. I cannot speak more highly of this dish, hence why I have never ventured to order anything else. In my old age I hanker after the avocado and the chickpea like a vegan Antipodean. My companions’ plates bear testimony to the sparkling menu: pomegranate seeds in the shakshuka, beetroot leaves in the salad. It’s colourful, more so than the venue, despite the hip retro event posters papering the scene. Something is missing, restaurant-makers. It’s atmosphere.
There is another, more troubling element: the tea. The brand is Tea Pigs, faux-artisanal tea de rigueur, which comes in gossamer pouches known by the company as, yes, tea temples. Okay, it’s a flavoursome tea. But tea should be hot and in Made in Camden it is merely tepid, urged quickly towards cold by the heat-conducting cast-iron teapots in which it is served. The lack of hot tea hurts me, especially in this bus depot of a room. But I do enjoy those fritters.