Lydia’s Cafe, Stoke Newington Church Street

Visited, Thursday 11th April, 2013


Lydia’s is part-caff, part-cafe. Wooden tables, chairs and floorboards, flyers advertising arts and cultural events. But breakfast and a cup of tea on offer. I found it pleasant to be in, friendly and welcoming, although I have related below Another’s experience which was less good.


The problem with the hybrid model is that one’s expectations are raised. I opted for an avocado, mozzarella and pesto sarnie. It came on olive focaccia with a massive portion of salad and chips. The sandwich itself was fantastic. However, the salad was tasteless leaves from a bag with no onion or dressing and the chips standard ‘no potatoes on the premises’ fries. And although condiments available included peri peri sauce and pomegranate molasses (for heaven’s sake) they didn’t include any balsamic vinegar. Of course it was streets ahead of the iceberg, beetroot and grated carrot combos you get in ‘ordinary’ caffs, but the quality of the ambience and the sarnie made me hope for more. Besides, it was £6.50, partly because of the size of the portion, but if I’d been able to pay less and have no chips, I’d happily have done so. Tea? I ordered an earl grey, which came in a mug, but milk already in it, which is a bit dangerous for an earl grey and it was too milky for me. Teabag was left in though.

NB My experience at Lydia’s was fine. However, I subsequently heard a friend’s story of waiting for 45 minutes for breakfast and being threatened with the police being called when they said they were just going to pay for their drinks and leave. The threat didn’t have much effect since said friend a) worked for the police and b) thought a drive-by shooting on the upper clapton road would probably take priority over slow service in Stoke Newington Church Street, but it doesn’t sound like very good customer service. Friend was told never to come back to the cafe again, which I don’t think she was tempted to do. And, although I *loved* my sandwich, there’s enough choice on Church street that I don’t need to either.


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