Pamban Chai & Coffee House 9.5/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 8.5/10
NOTE: Chicken and lamb/mutton is halal but alcohol and pork is served on-site
I love a good brunch. I would even argue brunch is my favourite meal of the day, and with all the days off I have had lately, brunch has become a rather regular affair. When Pamban Cafe invited me to invite what they had to offer in the way of brunch I jumped at the opportunity, as this was somewhere I had wanted to visit for ages, but never made the effort as Camden Market seemed too far to travel for brunch! I’m not sure what swayed me on this occasion, but was Easter Bank holiday, the weather was amazing, and so off we went to the faraway land of the North: Two-tone, the adopted one, and myself.
Pamban Chai & Coffee House is co-owned by Aruna (Sri Lankan origin) and Mayhul (Indian origin), and as such, their menu represents a fusion of both their backgrounds. I haven’t actually seen a menu like this before and was pretty excited about what they had to offer. The special thing about Pamban besides their food, is that the spices which go into the chai they serve, such as cardamom, ginger and cinnamon are ground daily, and brewed by hand.
When we arrived we were greeted warmly by Mayhul, who was kind enough to talk us through the menu and thoughts behind some of the items on it. Based on some of his and Aruna’s recommendations we ordered: Faluda, jaggery milkshakes, a selection of chai (house chai, rose chai and saffron chai), peanut butter smoothie bowl, 4 cheese spiced toastie, and Sri Lankan Lamprais.
The drinks arrived first and everything looked so enticing so we jumped right in! The faluda was cool, sweet and refreshing. I love faluda and am usually really fussy about how it’s made but this was spot on! The Jaggery milkshake was creamy and not overly sweet. I was actually thinking of ShakerFries when I sipped this as I am positive he would have loved this. The chai was equally spicy and satisfying. I was particularly drawn to the taste of the rose chai, which was a bit sweeter than the other two but was incurably fragrant which I loved. The great thing about Pamban is that they now sell their chais, and so I’m looking forward to purchasing some rose chai on my next visit!
Now on to the food. The presentation of all three dishes was beyond incredible. In fact, if I had one pedantic comment, it would be that the relaxed interior of the cafe didn’t match the high quality, taste and luxurious presentation of the food. The peanut butter smoothie bowl which Two-tone ordered wasn’t too sweet and encompassed peanut butter, banana, oat milk, and house granola, which was garnished with cacao nibs, a coconut almond nut dust and fresh fruit. It was presented beautifully, and was creamy, filling, and refreshing.
The Sri Lankan Lamprais is one of the most authentic dishes on the menu and is served as part of the ‘signature dishes’ section on the menu. We went for the mutton option which was served as rice and cashew nut curry with beetroot, aubergine, and onion relish in a banana leaf. The flavours came together beautifully and even as a brunch option, it just worked! The mutton was melt in your mouth tender, and the portion size was incredibly generous.
We all agreed that our favourite dish was the 4 cheese toastie. This was no ordinary cheese toastie. Stuffed full of masala and cheese, this toastie was topped with crunchy chevdo (Indian crispy snack), avocado, sweet and tangy tamarind sauce and pomegranate. Granted, this is one of the more indulgent dishes on the menu, but boy it is worth it. I was blown away by the explosion of flavours I experienced with every bite, and it was hard to tear myself away from the plate to let The adopted one get a look in! I highly recommend this dish.
The service was incredibly fast, the presentation was outstanding and the portion sizes were generous. I only wish I could have tried more, as the kithul waffle looked enticing, but we had no room left at all in the end! I guess this means we have to return 🙂 Although we were invited to sample this menu, what I will say is that the entire menu is very modestly priced. No dish on the menu was over £10.50 (and actually most items actually fall way under this price), which I personally think is incredible value for money given the high quality of the ingredients used and the novelty of the dishes. What’s great is that Pamban have a huge range of vegan/vegetarian options too, and so are able to accommodate everybody. I genuinely think this is one of the best meals I have eaten this year, and I will be back without a shadow of a doubt. London is absolutely saturated with ‘Instagrammable’ brunch places, which serve great looking food that tastes mediocre. Pamban cafe completely OBLITERATES all these places, by serving British brunch with a twist, that looks great and tastes even better. Whether you live North, South, East or West… make the journey to Pamban cafe. Trust me..it’ll be well worth it!