The Farm Girl founder on bringing Aussie café culture to London / Food & Drink
The Farm Girl founder on bringing Aussie café culture to London

We find out why Rose Mann’s Instagrammable cafés have been “photographed more times than Kate Moss”.

We find out why Rose Mann’s Instagrammable cafés have been “photographed more times than Kate Moss”.

Brunching in London has become a weekend institution. So much so that it’s hard to recall a time when our Saturdays didn’t start tucking into smashed avocado on toast and sipping on a flat white. 

But Rose Mann remembers those days well. When the Farm Girl founder arrived in West London 13 years ago, café culture in the capital had yet to catch on – and it certainly wasn’t in the same league as what was on offer back home near Melbourne. 
“Healthy food was hard to come by in Notting Hill. It was either a greasy spoon or high-end fine dining with not much in the middle,” says Rose who grew up on a farm in Terang in the Western District of Victoria. Back then, she recalls, Granger & Co. had Starbucks and pubs for company, meaning she found herself traipsing “40 minutes across London for a decent coffee” from fellow Aussie favourite, Lantana
Fed up with commuting for a caffeine fix, Rose decided to open her own place – after stumbling on the perfect spot on Portobello Road. “It was a random career shift,” she admits with a laugh as she reminisces about drafting up a business plan and navigating the quagmire of deposits and legal agreements – things she knew nothing about having moved to London to study art history. Thankfully her persistence, together with a helping hand from her now-husband Anthony, paid off. 

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 That was in 2015. Today the original Portobello branch of Farm Girl is now joined by a new South Kensington branch, which recently opened near Roll Baby, a summer rolls joint that Rose also launched this spring. Then there’s a Farm Girl outpost above Sweaty Betty on Carnaby Street and one in the Hershesons flagship salon on Berners Street in Fitzrovia. 
The newest outpost follows the same formula as its predecessors: laid-back vibes and wholesome, colourful food, a legacy left behind by David and Victoria Beckham’s private chef Benoit Marmoiton, who Rose hired to oversee the menu at the original Notting Hill café. She wanted an “easy-going, avocado on toast” vibe, but with a nutritional twist. “We don’t ever want to preach about nutrition,” she explains. “Our focus is on fresh produce, and locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.”


Of course, the dishes also have to look good. One of the first-ever recipes Benoit created was the gluten-free pancakes, which are still a menu staple. Today they come topped with apple and pears baked with vanilla bean and rosemary, or sour cherry compote, cacao nibs, flaked almonds, coconut shavings and coconut yoghurt. 
Drinks are Insta-worthy, too – coffees don’t come more photogenic than the rose water-laced Rose Latte – while the Beata Heuman-designed interiors at Notting Hill have also clocked up their fair share of likes. A collision of country farmhouse meets California coast, Rose gave Beata free reign to reimagine the space, with the proviso that it reflected the “carefree, hippy vibes” of the area. 

The combination of bold turquoise blue tiles and brunch favourites became an (almost) overnight hit – and an acai bowl-shaped siren call for famous faces including Margot Robbie and Harry Styles. One of the biggest pinch-me moments for Rose though – who credits social media and word of mouth for creating Farm Girl’s loyal following – was Nigella Lawson turning up to try the pancakes. 

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The location of the Notting Hill branch has also played a part in the Farm Girl empire’s success. “Portobello Road has never lost its charm. There’s always a buzz; it’s never quietened down,” she says. “I think people are attracted to the fact that it has its quirks – there’s a slight bohemian, grungy quality.”

It might be far away from her roots, but with Farm Girl Rose has succeeded in bringing a taste of Aussie café culture to London. So, if it’s avocado on toast you’re after this weekend – or any day of the week for that matter – you know where to head. After all, if it’s good enough for Nigella…

Get to know the Notting Hill neighbourhood with Rose’s local hotspots:

Best kept secret? Laylow – it’s great for Sunday roasts. The food is consistently excellent, yet it’s quiet because people don’t know it does roasts. 

Favourite new addition to the area? Check out the sandwiches at Secret Sandwich Shop – they’re doorstop sized! Orasay is also an amazing new place for fish and seafood. 

Tried and tested haunts? Gold is a firm favourite. I also think The Oak is the best pizza in the area. 

Where to go for coffee? If I’m not at Farm Girl, you’ll find me at Cable Co

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