Allergies are rife, right? I am allergic to stupid people, working 9 to 5, One Direction, cleaning up after myself and the way Sunday afternoon rushes by so quickly. Luckily for me, Camberwell boasts an allergy conscious cafe designed for people like me and also people who have actual allergies. I’ve spoken before about how gluten and I are fighting, so I decided to take myself along for a guilt-free breakfast. Well, it was lunch time. And also I felt mildly guilty because I did a lot of eavesdropping.
Red Robyn was very busy for a Monday, but I gather that it’s very busy pretty much all the time. Camberwell is funny like that – a lot of people seem to have time to go out for lunch on weekdays. They weren’t all parents with little kids or oldies either – many were 30-something couples and friends just chillin’. Like me, if I was a 30-something, and I’m still not for two more months. This might sound more judgemental than it is. All I mean is that Camberwell is alive with people doing things during the day that aren’t sitting at a desk and there’s a lot to be said for that as far as I’m concerned.
I had peeked ahead at their menu and was beside myself with excitement about trying out the sweet potato rosti with cured salmon, haloumi and spinach. Haloumi is one of the best things I know of, especially when you chew it and it squeaks like a mouse and you wonder what it would be like to eat a mouse. It’s a cheese designed for people with imaginations. Unfortunately, Red Robyn did not have any sweet potato rosti on the day I was there. That’s bad. But they did have gluten-free bread from my favourite boulangerie, Mattisse! That’s good.
I don’t know how to eat breakfast without poached eggs, so I added some of those and some avocado mash. The watercress was their idea. The lovely young waiter relayed messages to me from the kitchen while I waited, and I fell further and further in love with him. We were going to get married but he had to go to a uni lecture.
I was a little disappointed to see flat poached eggs, because they tend to taste a little like yolk and a lot like overcooked white, but in all other ways the meal reminded me of the men I had loved in my life and how their hands felt against my skin. It was beautiful and considered in its presentation, but rugged and odourful. The salmon slices were thick and meaty; the haloumi was creamy, with a good bounce to it.
The thing about gluten-free and other “allergy friendly” food is that people often say things like “it was pretty good considering it was gluten-free!” instead of “it was really delicious!” We forgive a lot of gluten-free sins just because they’ve made the effort to exclude wheat products. Red Robyn doesn’t fall back on this exit clause. Instead, it puts up plates of brilliant food that is comparable to gluten-full dishes you would get elsewhere.