At this time of year London is awash with batter, but pancakes are, or should be, for life, not just for Shrove Tuesday. Here are the best cafés and restaurants that serve them all year round — between them they offer everything from New York-style stacks to Korean seafood squares, for delivery and takeaway, if making one’s own batter isn’t on the agenda. Flipping good times are guaranteed with these crêpe crusaders.Read More
Where to Eat the Best Pancakes in London
From New York stacks to Korean seafood squares and hypebeasting soufflé pancakes
1. Le Merlin
Hotplate wizardry awaits at this dinky Clapton crêperie. The selection of savoury buckwheat galettes and sweet crêpes runs the gamut from no-frills (lemon-and-sugar, Nutella) to frilly in the extreme (Andouille sausage, sautéed potato and mustard; duck confit with blue cheese, truffle honey and caramelised onions). The servings are sizeable, with serious plate overhang, and everything’s under £10. Magic.
2. Kipferl Cafe & Kitchen
Austria’s Emperor Franz Joseph was partial to pancakes, which he liked chopped up, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with fruity bits. It’s tricky to find his Kaiserschmarren creation outside his homeland, but it’s on the menu at cosy Kipferl alongside raisins and apple compote. The menu and décor are Austrian themed, but stylishly so: less Sound of Music, more mid-century ski lodge.
3. Fuwa Fuwa Café
London WC1N 1AE, UK
Food trends, huh. Japanese soufflé pancakes have been adorning New York and Los Angeles Instagrams for a while now, but Fuwa Fuwa actually opened in London in 2018, stacking scoops of batter made with a whipped egg white meringue and cooking them slowly for 20 minutes both for an ideal texture and additional delayed gratification clout. A recent visit suggests that honeycomb butter is the best topping, for a dish which is as absolutely maximalist-absurd as it looks but worth a visit, if not a queue.
Corbin and King’s refined Marylebone homage to Viennese waltzes past and present is always a fine, low-key luxurious breakfast venue, and in the spirit of fried batter its Franz Joseph Kaiserschmarrn, a dessert of chopped up pancakes and cherry compote, is unmissable.
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5. Dumpling Shack
London E1 6BG, UK
John Li’s Spitalfields Market stall is one of London’s best restaurants, thanks to its superlative sheng jian bao dumplings. A new, permanent addition to the menu is what shines on the pancake front: cong you bing spring onion pancakes, made from dough instead of batter and folded with the greens and whites into a crisp-edged, flaking disc.
Bibimbap gets all the attention, but Korean pancakes never fail to please. Golden and lacy-edged, Koba’s seafood versions are an elegant delight, as well as being an excellent delivery system for kimchi. They’re on the lunch menu alongside rice and noodle dishes, and come the evening there’s a kind of pancake mix-tape on offer in its own right: a selection of tofu, prawn, kimchi and vegetable squares.
7. Granger & Co. Notting Hill
Much imitated but never bettered, Bill Granger’s ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter heralded a paradigm shift when they landed in Westbourne Grove seven years ago. All at once, pancakes were aspirational, and at £12.75 this is still an investment plateful. It’s the butter pats that make it: perfect little rounds flecked with golden shards like something from a Wes Anderson hotel dining room.
8. Pleasant Lady Jian Bing Trading Stall
London W1D 4DZ, UK
For Soho’s best-value lunch, head to the hatch on the corner of Greek Street and Old Compton Street. Owner and Bun House co-founder Z He’s team dish up freshly made jianbing: a thin crispy pancake covered in a mixture of egg, fermented bean paste, chilli oil, herbs, assorted meats — Iberico char siu pork, cumin-spiced lamb or grilled miso chicken — and an all important, shatteringly crisp cracker for texture. It’s folded up and eaten immediately, all for just £6. There’s also a Spitalfields site, which attracts one of the market’s longest queues.
The ne plus ultra of New York-style pancakes, served in surroundings only marginally less majestic than Grand Central Station. Balthazar’s fluffy pucks, made the traditional way with plenty of bubbles in the batter, come drizzled with maple butter and dotted with sliced banana. Not groundbreaking, but when the wheel’s this delicious, why reinvent it? Pair with bacon and litres of filter coffee.
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10. La Petite Bretagne
La Petite Bretagne makes few concessions to its London locale: this is a traditional outfit, serving a solid selection of French crêpes and galettes filled with the likes of duck confit and Raclette cheese. For a belt-busting finale, order the Belle Hélène: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, pear, chocolate and almonds. Holy crêpe.
Instagram’s favourite pancakes can be found halfway down Bedford Hill, Balham’s most culinary thoroughfare. Milk’s weekend pancake selection changes, well, weekly, but recent iterations include rum-and-raisin with boozy medjool date cream, and a buckwheat stack that appeared to have had a lemon meringue pie dropped on top of it. The food occasionally comes with a side of hauteur, but it’s worth sucking it up for the truly inventive cooking. And the likes.