Shopping trips to Sainsbury’s in New Barnet have become a lot more attractive now that The Wilds Café has opened just across the road.
I heard about the new café directly from owners brothers Sam and Dan Lassman inviting me to their launch party on Saturday 17th. However, I popped along anonymously to take a look first. Last Wednesday when it was unseasonably hot – too hot and sunny to sit at one of their outdoor tables – a friend and I enjoyed a summery lunch.
Despite opening just a couple of weeks earlier, the café was busy and a number of people already sounded like regulars. As soon as we sat down chilled glasses and a bottle of filtered water were brought to the table so we had refreshing drinks before even ordering. We both chose quesadillas, mine included chorizo (£5), my friend’s just cheese (£4.50)and served with bulgar wheat salad of the day which came in a bowl. The quesadillas were generously topped with guacamole and with crunchy chia seeds sprinkled over. We were also offered chipotle sauce on the side. All very tasty.
Also on the menu are sandwiches and toasties from £3 made from a choice of four types of bread. Salad of the day with sourdough toast (£5) and smashed avocado on sourdough toast (£4.50) can come with smoked salmon, grilled halloumi or buffalo mozzarella for an extra £2.50. Kids dishes start at £2.80 for beans on toast. Pastries are from £1.20 and smoothies are from £3.50.
When I returned on Saturday I got to try some of the excellent bakes and drinks and have a proper chat. Over café mocha pepped up with chilli chocolate it was interesting hearing from Sam about the guys’ backgrounds.
Dan has been running pubs (The Clissold Arms, The Somers Town Coffee House and The Vic, Mile End) for about 10 years. Sam was working in Los Angeles doing product design, running events and eating a lot of brunches. He moved back to London a few years ago when his wife became pregnant to be closer to family. A lot of the café’s inspiration comes from his time in the States – good fresh food, great coffee, sourdough breads and a lot of avocado!
Sam has cooked since his early teens, ran a sandwich round at university, catered a few events and made it through a few interview rounds of an early Masterchef but got thrown out when they asked if he wanted to be a chef. Having read lots of Anthony Bourdain his answer was a resounding “not a chance” – apparently, not the right answer. He’s still not that keen on the chef’s 6am to 2am hours, so a café is perfect. However, they are considering evening pop-ups and other ideas.
The brothers are keeping it simple and tasty, catering for families and the gym goers. The salads are changed every day, bread and pastries come from Celtic Bakers, they serve The Gentlemen Baristas coffee and Chash Tea (the iced Earl Grey was beautifully fragrant). Sam, Dan and colleague Elika are experimenting with their own bakes and trying out gluten and dairy-free options (from £2.50). The carrot cake was a bit too sweet for me, but Elika’s raw vegan raspberry cheesecake was a stunner: fresh and pure tasting, and well textured with coconut and cashew. Other interesting creations (and developments) are obviously in the pipeline so check their Facebook page for details.
I love the way The Wilds is so enthusiastically run and focuses on carefully-sourced, seasonal ingredients – highly recommended.
Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am to 3pm.
27 East Barnet Road, New Barnet EN4 8RN
020 8449 0060