Truly credited with being the place that created the environment for neighbourly eateries, and being a food chain that encourages local suburbanites to supply baked goods and make preserves, meet for coffees and eat out. The Whippet leads by example, sourcing as much as possible, even the eggs, almost on the doorstep and being as green an example to the neighbours as possible.
You can eat breakfast from 7am to midday and The Whippet excels at these. An oats dish is cooked in coconut milk, drenched with fine cinnamon sugar and has a homemade compote of berries for swirling in. On the other side of the taste scale is a breakfast of two beautifully poached eggs on a crisp potato rosti under just-made hollandaise, plus some homemade tomato relish and a bunch of watercress. The Whippet’s breakfast platter is a fine idea for anyone because it includes something of almost everything. You can eat your way around it, starting with a little muesli with yoghurt and strawberry compote, some of the salmon and pickle rosti and then an egg benedict with ham. Lunches start at midday and, though the menu is divided into sections for burgers, salads, bowls, sandwiches, hot pressed melts and flatbreads, try not to miss the ‘tagine’ of chicken, chorizo sausage, peppers and coriander, with pieces of pita and homemade tomato sauce and a side of yoghurt. There are four kinds of burger, including a veggie one, but there is also a fondue burger. Unlikely as it may sound, that is really a crumbed chicken breast that comes with a three-cheese fondue sauce, some not-too-hot chillies, and pickled onion, with fine French fries.
The salads are substantial. For example, there is a steak salad that includes crumbed goats cheese, blistered tomatoes, pesto and fried onion rings. The bread is all homemade and that makes for great sandwiches. Try the avo one on fresh sourdough with some delicious hummus, sweet chilli and salads. Locals love the melts – toasted cheeses with big differences. An exciting one includes a smashed meat patty, melted cheddar, onion and rocket, in a toasted panini. The homemade flatbreads are another nice addition, though the simplest one with garlic, parmesan and herbs is the nicest of the lot.
There are always rather amazing bakes and patisserie, like tartlets of raspberries in crème anglaise, amazing gateaux or what seem like alarmingly local inventions that really taste good, like a meringue-crusted carrot cake. Yum.
The Whippet makes and sells its own blend of very good coffee that come in three sizes. There are lattes galore too, some flavoured: gingerbread, crème brulee, vanilla. The chai is ever popular and they have amazing hot chocolates, some with coffee. Boutique teas make up an important part of the drinks menu too, some almost seeming like hot cocktails. There are also the iced teas and coffees in addition to interesting shakes and smoothies. Mainstream and craft beers and ciders are popular here and there is a surprisingly large but low-key cocktail menu, including a cool and very lovely cucumber and ginger G&T. The winelist is restricted to five reds, five whites, five sparklings and a couple of rosés, many offered by the glass and nothing particularly scary about the estates or prices.
As ever, the coffee is fairly quick but that doesn't go for the rest of the service. It takes some time to be seated and billed. However the staff are pleasant and there is always a manager or owner nearby.
The décor is in keeping with the neighbourly upper-end crafty look. The people are ladies of the area, workers on laptops or film workers. The room and outside area are busy at most times. On Saturdays it can look terribly trendy. Ever-conscious of community values, management commissioned groovy new outfits for the staff, locally designed and manufactured.
There’s a stylish new range of ceramics for sale, featuring the lean dog.
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Stylish breakfasts are the big thing there, featuring the now-renowned tempura poached eggs, many plump filled omelettes and quirky French toasts, like a fig and camembert favourite. Vegetarians are very well catered for; in fact, the yummy mushroom breakfast would appeal to many non-vegetarians too.
The lunch offering may be fairly simple but they always feature something special or different. The Club Caprese salad is a revved-up version of the old favourite and the popular burgers have a little cheese prezzie buried in the ground beef patties. There’s a popular barbecue pork pita and an excellent tapas platter packed with both homely and trendy dips, cheeses, olives and snacks.
Many people travel here just for the milk tart, but, depending on which of The Whippet's neighbours have made what, there might also be terrific cakes, tarts and other bakes available, in addition to their own freshly baked muffins and croissants.
The sourcing of ingredients is determinedly local, as part of the Slow Food ethos of the restaurant.
With excellent coffee as the original focus, including The Whippet Linden special blend, the teas are also specially sourced, mostly Satemwa from Kenya. The Whippeccinos are brilliant drinks, with flavours like caramel or different chocolates. The smoothies come in playful flavours like peanut butter and espresso.
The menu offers fun suggestions as to wine and food pairing matches. The wine list has clearly been professionally selected, with many available by the glass. A selection of craft beers, mostly Darling Brews and Windermere Cider, keep the other half of the drinkers happy, especially on Friday evenings.
While the coffee service is impressively slick, the rest of the approach is kind of laid back.
The décor is craft-cool. There’s always an impressive energy about the place. It can be a little loud when full, but the noise is usually intelligent conversation and laughter.
This is the place that put Linden – and many of its neighbours – on the food map. There’s a great community buzz and ethical approach. For example, you’ll find a local recycled wooden furniture business that donates more trees to be planted in the hood. So there’s furniture for sale and all sorts of other goodies like fantastic fudge, pickles and the special local-blend coffee.
Went along for Friday night dinner. I had reasonable expectations after the hype and I was pleasantly surprised that the hype wasn't empty. Burgers, cocktails and dessert were delicious, our waitress was a delight and the live music was just perfect. It's going to become a routine for sure.