Even in my darkest times while living in Australia (it’s true, I used to complain more than I should have, it’s really not that bad), there was always one thing about it that gave me hope in a better life, in the existence of a higher purpose: Spud Bar. Something as simple as a baked potato with all the filing one could wish is the perfect evolution of “fast food” that also doesn’t make me feel like I’ve just drank antifreeze.
So think of the joy when I realized the Spud Bar has a London equivalent: the Potato Project.
The calavera, also know as a “sugar skull”, is a now a mainstream identifier of Mexico. The calavera actually comes from Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is a celebration of, well, you’ve got it, the dead. It involves food, another central staple of Mexican culture, and Mole Taco Bar is a perfect ode to that celebration of death and life.
Freud has been a great influence in both psychology and culture (besides the fact that the man had a fantastic beard), and it’s quite the mental exercise to try and think what kind of bars he would have frequented. In truth, Freud (the bar) has been something that was quite well seen on the London circuit and for very good reasons.
There was a soft autumn light which poured itself inside the pub – which is strange given that it is only the beginning of spring. The Calf was eerily quiet, as many places tend to be at this time of the day, but I’ve always found that to be a perk, and it meant we could easily pick whichever part of the pub to accommodate us.
Brixton market is always a somewhat surreal experience, by virtue of how un-London the whole place is – more similar to a marketplace in Marrakech than our urban jungle. It’s also one of the few places where virtually all restaurants (bar one) are cash only. As I found out tho, it’s also the home of one of London’s must visit breakfast places.
As we sat towards the back of Osteria dell’Arte, the skylight at the center of the roof gave way to warm sunshine. The waiters would chatter away in Italian, soft whispers among the wooden tables and chairs. Closing my eyes, I could easily have been transported back to a little restaurant in Rome, a little cafe on an alleyway in Venice. There was authenticity here that pulled you in gently.
The music seeps through the door inside the bathroom, mirrors covered in black trash bags, men, women and everything in-between or outside the traditional binary understanding of gender mixing together, several of them folding at each time within the stalls like a well oiled Tetris machine. Even your phone has had a neat little sticker attached to it, to prevent you from taking pictures. It’s not just for show – what the club tries is to create a certain culture, also achieved by brutally denying entrance to anyone who wouldn’t fit it. It’s no wonder this futuristic, techno libertarian environment created inside.
Deciding a good place to brunch is never as easy as TV series would depict, where characters seemingly wake up with divine providence of where to go. Instead, there’s more of a barrage of queries such as “will we even get a table there”, “how far is it”, and, my favorite, “will it have a nice enough bathroom if the detox juice gives me the looseys (I wanted to find a cuter word for diarrhea)?”. Alright, you got me, that last one is actually my sisters favorite question but I like to be inspired.
Getting back to the topic, it’s harder to find a brunch place when one of the questions is “will they let me take pictures of topless men in their restaurant?”
The cakes are scattered around the room, kept safely under their little glass dome, much alike the rose in Beauty & the Beast (I can’t help it that is what those things make me think about all the time). Much akin to the random spread of cakes, the furniture itself is an ode to the Brownian motion – which is really what the theatre is behind the curtains.