Archive for the ‘London EC1’ Category

Sun Cafe, Goswell Road

November 7, 2011

First visited Monday 7th November 2011

Interior: seeking breakfast on a chilly November morning, I first paused at the door of an Italian-looking caff on the North East side of the junction. But for some reason, the door was wide open and I could already see myself shivering as I tried to cut up toast with my gloves on. So I crossed the road and went to the Sun Cafe. ‘Cosy’ probably wasn’t the look they were aiming for – canary yellow-walls, pale-veneer tables, shiny metal backed chairs and – even – a mirror on the ceiling above the counter – suggest a bright, modern and thrusting effect. Yet it was friendly rather than cool, the caff was warm enough and the welcome very friendly. The crowd was pleasant too – a real mixture between those with laptops and briefcases and those with reflective jackets.

Food: Although very tempted by several of the 8 (!) set breakfasts, I went for the budget option as set breakfasts are really too big most of the time. 1 egg on toast, which was just right (for me anyway) – toast not soggy, yolk still runny, white crispy on the edges – a slice of bacon, beans and a sausage. The latter tasted a bit synthetic and reminded me of the turkey sausages you get in halal caffs, which would have been rendered a bit pointless by the presence of the definitely porky bacon, but the latter was a decent rasher. The counter held a very tempting selection of sandwich fillings and the tea, while in a non-traditional mug, was a decent quantity and lovely-tasting. I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here, but I’d recommend it if you were in the area.


Abigail’s Kitchen, Turnmill Street, Farringdon

October 8, 2010

Visited: Friday 8th October 2010

Interior: Very modern and funky this, bright giant floral wallpaper print (on one wall only of course), giant mirror, bright interior and light-coloured tables. However, while there were the inevitable local office workers stopping off for espresso, everyone who was sitting in apart from me was wearing reflective stripes (mind you one of them ordered a salad, although his mate had the breakfast).

Food: I was impressed by the range of panini in Abigails but unfortunately the quality wasn’t up to much. Maybe I was spoiled by my last meal having been one of Piccolo Bar’s lovely granary toasties, but my roasted veg and cheese panino tasted a bit iffy and the bread was the usual featureless pap. A shame really as I otherwise really quite liked Abigails. And I had a lovely mug of tea.

Abigails Kitchen, Greville St, EC1

October 4, 2008

Visited Thursday 2nd October, 2008

Interior: My guess is that Abigail’s been done up fairly recently. Such coffee shop features as red walls, plants and wooden tables and chairs have been superimposed over an underlying structure of the classic counter-ordering sandwich bar. One problem with the hybrid is that Abigail’s breaks cafe-ordering etiquette. There is no menu above the counter as you enter the caff, instead there are menus on the table. But no waiting staff will take your order from the table, so you order at the counter, having grabbed your table and consulted the menu. If you want hot food, counter staff will direct you to another counter, which is where all the hot food is displayed. You queue again to pay at the end. There are no signs to advise the uninitiated of these rules.

Food: I had a very plain penne with roasted veg. The sauce, if such it can be described, was meagre, but the pasta very impressively not overcooked, in fact the most al dente of any re-heated pasta I’ve had in a caff. Tea was in a charming floral small mug, of the sort you might get in the only caff in a provincial town (you know, the sort of place where they’d give you a plate if you asked for a chocolate biscuit with your tea) – a really endearing touch.

Luigi’s Snack Bar, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4SP

October 1, 2008

Visited: Tuesday 30th September 2008

Interior: A tiny gem of the vinyl and fake formica variety – wood-effect walls, red plastic formica counter hugging three sides of the wall and high stools. Order as you come in. No tables and chairs but at 3pm it wasn’t difficult to get a stool.

Food: I didn’t eat, but had a very nice mug of tea, which must have come straight from the pot as it was a real caffeine-and-tannin headblower.

Tiffins, Leather Lane, EC1

September 25, 2008

Visited: Wednesday 24th September, 2008

Interior: By far the most prominent of the Leather Lane caffs, Tiffins opens out onto the street displaying its art deco-style black and white floor and generous tiled interior. On the ground floor of a nondescript modern block (Leather Lane has an extraordinary amount of character given that so many of its buildings are modern and utilitarian), a real effort has been made to give it a classy feel.

Food: As its name might imply, Tiffins specialises in international snacks. As well as the usual breakfast and sandwich options, there are Turkish, Indian and Chinese dishes on offer. I opted for the lamb shish wrap which was a little dry but very tasty. My companion had a jacket potato with beans which, when I attempted to finish it for her, was not of the best quality, having that ‘microwave’ quality which makes the skin inedible, but it was very cheap. Service was friendly and efficient but not too suspiciously fast.

Farina’s, Leather Lane, EC1

September 16, 2008

Visited: 16th September 2008

Interior: Farina’s has been described beautifully elsewhere but to add my penny’s worth, the interior seemed to me to be a classic of the late 1960s – dark brown fake wooden panelling, formica tables, green leatherette chairs, all very warm and comforting.

Food: I had the vegetable chow mein, not a typical caff dish, admittedly, but I thought I’d take advantage of the Chinese menu, this being one of the mysterious sub-genres of caffs, the ‘alternative ethnic menu’. It was a generous portion of thin noodles with the customary meagre sprinkling of onions and carrots, somewhat fatty, but tasty and clearly made fresh. A large tea was a fantastic head-blowing orange tannin-fest and came in a mug (which is a good thing). The menu had a really good range of all the caff staples – breakfasts, sandwiches, jackets and a really good range of hot food. I was particularly impressed that in addition to the usual bolognese, napoli and lasagne, there was ham and mushroom tagliatelle.

Royal Cafe, Farringdon Road

February 18, 2007

Visited Thursday 15th February 2007.

Very friendly and well-located caff.

Interior: A cut above the usual, perhaps because the seats are wooden rather than metal and the corner location gives tons of natural daylight. It makes it a very nice place to while away an afternoon (if you have such a thing free – in my case it was what was left of my belated lunch hour after I’d been to the post office)

Food: I had egg and tomato on toast, which was pretty much as you’d expect, plus a decent mug of tea, all for £3.20.