From inventing the “babyccino” to serving Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence in her native Australia, Lynette de la Vega has led an extraordinary life. She is so dedicated in her passion for coffee, her five hugely successful restaurants led to her and her family earning the title: “Coffee Kings of Sydney”. Now, along with her daughter Cloe, they’ve opened their first site in London – Abuelo (/aˈ- bwell – oh/), which is also the city’s first Antipodean-meets-South American coffee house and kitchen.
Located in the heart of Covent Garden, Abuelo is a gorgeously relaxed space that encourages all-day dining and social sharing in the evening. The name comes from the Spanish word for grandfather and family is at the heart of the venue’s ethos.
A restaurant-supperclub, the kitchen serves beautifully presented, simple, organic fare with sharing plates, wine and cocktails through the evening. Offering South American dishes with a contemporary Australian approach (an homage to the family’s mixed heritage), Abuelo’s food menu combines family recipes, handed down by Cloe de la Vega’s Abuelo, with global ingredients, beautiful presentation and an unfussy, relaxed ethos.
Coffee is taken just as seriously as the food, as Abuelo combines South American beans with the Australian coffee technique to provide a truly special Aussie coffee experience in the heart of London.
Highlights on the breakfast menu include Huevos Divorciados de Turco: poached eggs ‘divorced’ by salsa roja and chimichurri, on a bed of labneh, with avocado cream and smoked paprika. In the evenings, guests can enjoy larger sharing dishes; try the Sloppy Jose, a traditional Argentinian spiced beef empanada filling on brioche, with
melted mature cheddar and topped with a quail’s egg.
There are plenty of plant-based options too, such as the vegetarian Abuelo Bibi’Bowl, which combines sticky black rice with a poached egg, spicy tomato salsa, noodled carrot and courgette, crunchy kale and micro-cress.
The Abuelo team host regular cupping sessions to carefully choose their own South American beans and work with a British roastery partner, overseeing the process to get the right flavours for their single origin coffees. With a focus on ethical sourcing, Abuelo’s distinctive coffee uses just three unique beans, which offer individual flavour profiles, including House Coffee: La Laguna Colombian – Single origin, 100% Arabica, Caramel, smooth flavour; Pour Over: Café Femenino – Single origin, 100% Arabica, Rich, bright, black forest flavour; and Decaf: Swiss Water Cafetalera – Single origin, 100% Arabica, praline flavour.
Influenced by the similarities between the Australian Homestead and the South American
Hacienda, the focal point of Abuelo is a farmhouse table. Seating up to twelve guests, it is
surrounded by antique Australian country house spindle chairs – some almost a century old – and playfully carved with kangaroos and foliage.
With a cosy sofa corner studded with verdant green cushions, tables and stools the space is perfect for intimate, friendly evenings and prettily arranged wildflowers are chosen by the staff, presented in vintage bottles and jars on each table, add a personalised touch.
And no visit to Abuelo is complete without meeting Annie, the family ‘groodle’. Guests with their own dogs can bring them to the venue, which is of course, pooch-friendly.
For more information, visit www.abuelocafe.co.uk