St. Martin in the Fields, London -- Cafe in the Crypt

We had to eat at their cafeteria more than once, because the dessert (mixed berry crumble, with "pudding" i.e. thick cream, on the side) was so decadent. Best dessert we had in London! (And it's big enough to share.) The food there is excellent; each day there are a couple of hot choices, one of which is always vegetarian, plus soup/salad/sandwiches. The main dish hot choices are like mini-casseroles, and are excellent. I highly recommend eating at St Martin's -- not only is the food tasty, the price reasonable, and the decor interesting (it's the crypt), but they do a lot for the homeless & other needy people so you feel good about supporting the church.

Posted by emma
London
1057 posts

"Pudding" Is a word that divides our two nations!
In the UK pudding is a generic word for dessert eg " what's for pudding?". Although it is most often used in reference to hot desserts eg Sticky Toffee Pudding. I "think " it traditionally referred to foods, both sweet and savoury, that were boiled, especially in pastry for example steak and kidney pudding is basically the same as a steak and kidney pie but is boiled in a cloth rather than baked.

So nothing like American pudding! I still remember the look on an American tourist's face who ordered sticky toffee pudding in a pub! They actually tried to send it back saying the order was wrong, but it was soon being passed around the table for all to try!

Posted by Diana
Michigan, United States
320 posts

I really wanted to go there when we were in London but alas, we ran out of time. Next time we go for sure. It sounds wonderful.

Posted by Jenny
Bothell, WA
53 posts

Thank you for the review! I was considering a meal there when I'm in London next month; now will go there for sure.
@emma--Your reply about puddings reminded me so much of my childhood, having to explain to my friends that our Christmas meal always had a roast and Yorkshire pudding that you poured gravy on as well as "Christmas" pudding (my grandma called it Christmas because carrot pudding turned the children off) that you put a super-sweet, creamy whisky sauce on. My kids, in their 20's, now have to explain it to their friends. Now I make and steam the carrot pudding myself--and the kids won't touch it! More for me...

Posted by emma
London
1057 posts

Jenny, what went in "Christmas" pudding besides carrots I'm intrigued?
I have a friend who actually serves Yorkshire pudding as a pudding. She serves it with whipped cream and golden syrup! Totally amazing, but I am a Yorkshire pudding junkie. My last meal on earth would be toad in the hole and onion gravy.

Posted by Jenny
Bothell, WA
53 posts

Emma, our carrot pudding is kind of like a dense carrot cake with shredded carrots, currents, walnuts--I even remember there being some shredded potato in there! Sugar, flour of course--but not very sweet until you put the hard sauce on it. Tasted very boozy as a kid, but now I love it. We begged for a chocolate cake or ice cream for Christmas dessert, but it wasn't until Grandma Johnston passed that we branched out to trifle instead. Now, I love Yorkshire pudding with butter and honey or cinnamon/sugar too--but we call that a Dutch Boy!?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11989 posts

That's some Christmas Pudding....

Unlike anything I've never had before.

It sounds to me like war rationing. People substituted all sorts of veg into recipes.

Did your grandmother grow up in the War?

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9165 posts

Went to the Cafe in the Crypt twice a couple of weeks ago.
The people under the floor are quiet.

Posted by emma
London
1057 posts

Carrot "Christmas" pudding sounds delicious but I think I might skip the potato.
Definitely has a wartime ring to it.

Posted by Jenny
Bothell, WA
53 posts

Nigel and Emma-Yes, Grandma was around for both World Wars I and II. She was about the most frugal person I've ever known. She always made the pudding in an old coffee can, but I found a fancy aluminum thing that looks like a miniature trash can that's made just for such steamed puddings--carrot, plum or who knows what. Works almost as well as the old coffee can, but living so close to Seattle I dare not purchase coffee in a can! I can't wait to try Sticky Toffee Pudding. It sounds amazing!

I'm not going there until 2017, but am planning to partake. I hear there is also musical entertainment. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by Bonnie
West Grove, PA
5 posts

The food is good --yes, we love the berry pudding, too--in the Cafe in the Crypt. Better yet, combine a meal there with one of the free 1:00PM concerts in the church above. Generally, those concerts are given each Monday, Tuesday and Friday. We have heard various musicians over the years, the latest last week, and all have been quality and very enjoyable. St-Martin-in-the-Fields also hosts many evening performances (paid ticket entry). Details on their website.

Posted by sambol
22 posts

If anyone is in London during Advent, St. Martins is THE place to go. We were there several years ago and enjoyed our evening so very much. Had dinner in the crypt then went upstairs to their Advent concert. What a night! We were lucky enough to have seats on the first row!

Posted by arao
7 posts

Chiming in for the wonderful vegetarian casserole at this great cafe. Even amidst all the bustle, one can hang out and read while waiting for the 7pm show to begin. Great warm food on a chilly spring night, followed by Vivaldi's Four Seasons without breaking your pocket - St.Martin is a real treasure!