Walking in the front door of Abuelo in London, you won’t be the first to stop and ask where you’ll find the main dining room. You’re looking at it. The small space, that seats no more than about 15, is intimate to say the least, but designed to reflect the concept of eating in an actual home. One family sized table occupies the window, with two smaller tables off to the right taking up the remaining space. So, as you can imagine, timing is everything when eating here. Although it should be noted that many visitors are popping in simply to pick up a delicious coffee and a slice of cake that looks as if it belongs in a museum for the world’s most decadent dishes.
The restaurant’s food is described as Argentinian coffee house meets Australian cuisine. So you have that light bites culture happening here, or so we thought. Looking at the menu, there is a richness of ingredients found with every dish, from truffle cheese toasties to pulled pork croque monsieurs. But, there’s nothing light about the taste or the serving size. Large plates arrive at the table, with food decorated in a manner that is above and beyond your average lunch serving. There is a pride in presentation at Abuelo and it’s charming.
The coffee, however, was perhaps the most surprising – creamy, the perfect temperature and the first time in a while I didn’t need to add a drop of sugar to my caffeinated beverage of choice. This is an Aussie coffee. Apparently that doesn’t have anything to do with the beans, that are in fact from Honduras. Aussie coffee is all about perfection in preparation and the founders of Abuelo have come to London with quite the reputation in knowing their way around a coffee machine. They were dubbed the Coffee Kings of Sydney back home. That would explain the dozen or so people that popped in, while we were seated and indulging, to order coffees and cakes.
My only regret is leaving without a slice of cake to go. Next time! For now, I can say, with hand on heart, Abuelo can do no wrong. Sit here and watch the world of Covent Garden pass by outside, coffee in hand and cake on the way.
Visit Abuelo, Covent Garden, London.
26 Southampton Street
London WC2E 7RS