Archive for the ‘Standard’ Category

Carlton Coffee House, Soho

March 23, 2013

Tripadvisor review here

Interior:Although the shiny tables and part-metal part-pine chairs give off a look of recent refurbishment, there’s a solid mediterranean sandwich bar feel to the Carlton. Theatre posters, a lovely servery display case and dark wooden fittings made me feel very comfortable. And the efficient and friendly proprietress helped too. I was a little surprised to go through the door to the toilets to find myself in the open air, but that’s what you get with historic Soho buildings and it wasn’t actually snowing at the time. And was all spotless.

Food:Nothing special going on here: egg and beans perfectly okay, bacon a little salty for my taste (but generous portion of back bacon), mushrooms horrible slimy tinned things and the toast the usual weirdly foldable triangles. However, the tea was extremely nice.

At £5.90 including the tea it was about what I expected for the area. However, I realised as soon as I’d finished that I shouldn’t have ordered the breakfast, as poached egg on toast would have sufficed and I really would have preferred tomato to beans or mushrooms. I was suckered in by the fact that egg and tomato on toast would have cost almost as much as the breakfast. No wonder there’s an obesity problem.


L’Angelo, Pentonville Road, Angel

July 14, 2012

First visited Saturday 14th July 2012


L’Angelo’s been here since at least the early 1980s – I can remember seeing it from the 214 bus on inter-parental visits when I was a child. Its interior is cosy-old rather than antique, however and very comforting on an excessively wet Saturday. With dark yellow walls and the only natural light from under the awning-obscured front window it had the potential to be dingy, but was small enough that it seemed warm and welcoming (the smiley proprietor helped).

Food: I had a vegetarian breakfast which was the bog standard mushrooms, beans, tomato and egg, no bubble or anything exotic. I was thinking that it was nothing special, but actually that’s no bad thing when the mushrooms aren’t soggy, the beans not mushy and the egg completely to my taste (read: probably not hard enough for some). The toast was the usual foldable mass-produced fare but it soaked up the beans easily enough. My tea could have been stronger – they left the teabag in, so I think it must just be an underpowered brand. Not somewhere I’d come to specially, but at £4.20 it was good value and was plenty filling.

Crown Cafe, Crowndale Road, Mornington Crescent

March 3, 2012

First visited: Wednesday 29th February 2012

Interior: Crown Cafe, which I used to live very near, but never visited (hard to justify paying for a cuppa when you have a kettle at home) has a slightly odd interior. The wooden boards on the walls give it a strangely rustic look, perhaps even a country and western one. The ‘formica’ tables were fairly standard and the chairs very modern but the pictures include two rather strange collages representing ‘London’ and ‘New York’, the former which included an image of a Routemaster bus but the photo had been reversed so the destination was back to front. Or maybe it was supposed to be reflected in a car wing mirror? Anyway, it’s always suffered from a dark interior, which was another reason why I didn’t use to visit it when I lived nearby, but it’s quirky decor made up for that.

Food: I had mushrooms on toast which were delicious. The bread was the usual supermarket bendable foam rubber, but the mushrooms were really tasty. My teabag wasn’t left in, but the tea was just strong enough. My only objection was the price – £3.80 seemed a bit steep for what I had, but then I suppose mushrooms are luxury items in caffs (more so than sausages). Anyway, sometimes you need to pay for what you need, and I needed mushrooms on toast.

Town Cafe, Kentish Town Road

March 3, 2012

First visited Saturday 25th February 2012

Interior: Town Cafe is a cut out and keep standard caff: ‘formica’ tables, laminated menus, tiled floor, Heart on the radio. Nothing wrong with that and the staff were very friendly on my visit. It’s also clearly a popular local hangout as it was busy too.

Food: I had a composed breakfast: beans, mushrooms, tomato on toast with egg and bacon, which was exactly as you might imagine: lots of beans, fresh tomatoes, nicely grilled. The mushrooms were a bit tasteless but I’ve had worse and the egg was just right (for my tastes – I like a runny yolk). The bread was nothing special but worked very well as a recipient for the other things on the plate. It was a small piece of bacon, but I didn’t mind that – it was just enough to add salt, fat and texture to the other ingredients. Because what I had wasn’t a set breakfast, it came to a bit more than it should, but that’ll teach me to order bespoke.

Meadows Cafe, Kentish Town Road

December 24, 2011

First visit: Saturday 26th November 2011

Interior:  This hasn’t changed since it was called Sam Widges: a pleasant enough little caff, a step towards cafe-dom from its plastic-seated neighbours, but not particularly pretentious. The front area is dominated by the sandwich counter and there’s a back bit which you might want to use if, as with today, there’s a bit of a draught coming in from the door. Staff were friendly enough.

Food: I had the vegetarian English, but asked them to leave out the veggie sausage. The waitress did offer me the option of having an extra egg, and I should have taken the opportunity to ask if I could have my tea included instead, but I didn’t and in the end, she charged me the full price for the breakfast (understandably, as it’s probably programmed into the till) and extra for the tea. The breakfast was fine: I missed the amazing herby grilled tomatoes they used to serve, but having it made all made fresh made up for it. The toast was at the foldable end of soggy, which was a shame. I somehow forgot to tell them not to leave out the hash browns and, while I’m sure they went straight from freezer to deep fryer, they were extremely nice indeed.

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.

Pronto a Mangia, Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria

April 26, 2011

First visited: 24/4/2011

Interior:  Pronto is divided into two: a standard sandwich bar in one half, a caff with waitress service in the other. They’re both absolutely standard in an Italian caff kind of way – the odd plant and floor tiles making up for the absence of any period detail. It’s not the kind of place you’d get pictures on the menus. The waitress was very friendly.

Food: I had a very nice pasta all amatriciana, although I had to double check there was any bacon in it at first. The spaghetti could have been a little more al dente, but this is a caff after all. It wasn’t cheap, but then this is the heart of touristland and I could have had a jacket potato or sandwich for somewhat less. And quite frankly, just finding somewhere serving hot food at 4pm on the Saturday of the easter weekend near Victoria seemed like a bit of a bonus to me.

Pedro’s Cafe, Kentish Town Road

April 2, 2011

First visited: Saturday 2nd April 2011

It’s taken me a while to get to Pedros, although it’s actually closer to where I used to live than where I live now (but do we go to our closest caffs when we can get a cuppa at home?) I can’t particularly say that the anticipation was worth much. There’s nothing wrong with Pedro’s. It’s just nothing special.

Interior: In fairness, although Pedros is as standard as standard can be as far as modern shiny caffs go, with their plastic tiles, laminated table menus and plastic menu boards, it is very clean indeed. In fact, it’s so shiny it almost seems to be veering into the fast food outlet category. For my taste the music was a bit loud, but it’s clearly a popular option and not just with gentlemen of a certain age (on my visit there were couples and a Dad and kid combo, among others).

Food: I can’t really say anything bad about my brown toast, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, but they weren’t especially memorable. The bread wasn’t up to Brassino’s standards, but it didn’t totally collapse into mush (which goes to show that there is a quality range even with the mass-produced supermarket loaf). My tea was a bit milky but they left the teabag in.

Really, I’m not sure why I’m not more enthusiastic about Pedro’s – it was fine. My breakfast came to £4.20 which was more expensive than a standard English, but then that does happen when you go ‘a la carte’, and the loo seemed to be permanently locked (just in case anyone used it), but I wouldn’t warn anyone off it. I just doubt I’ll walk past Brassino’s to get there another day.

Mamma Mia, Kentish Town Road

March 5, 2011

Visited: Saturday 5th March 2011

I’d previously tried to visit this prominently- and conveniently-situated caff last spring. But it was a chilly day and they had the door open and I was just going to be too cold. I also somehow came away with the idea that they were all about panini and the thought of tasteless mozzarella on flaccid, cottony so-called ciabatta was a  little off-putting.

However, I was wrong. Mamma Mia do an excellent breakfast. I had the veggie breakfast, although it was more food than I really should have had, tempted by the fact that, in addition to the things I was going to eat anyway (tomato, mushrooms, toast and egg) they offered bubble and beans.  Tea and really quite decent buttered toast was included and the quality was really pretty good – notably the bubble didn’t have that disappointing stale smell that comes from old mash being fried in stale fat. For £5.50 it was really a bargain.

Mamma Mia’s interior is happy hybrid between sandwich bar and caff. The ‘formica’ tables have shiny red borders and matching chairs, the handwritten specials blackboards are mixed in with bits of mediterranean corporate art. And the walls are a nice pale terracotta. It was also very clean – one staff member was actually employed wiping the vinyl seat cushions to keep them shiny. I only regret I had no opportunity to investigate the loo.

Cafe Presto, Torrington Place, Bloomsbury

February 22, 2011

First visited: Tuesday 22nd February 2011

Interior: Cafe Presto isn’t really for me. It’s perfect for someone who wants to sit in the refreshing air and soak up the traffic noises, probably with an inhale of nictotine just for luck, as it has a large number of seats outside, and virtually none inside. Even the two tables inside might as well be outside because they keep the door open. Essentially a take-away counter, it’s a pretty inviting one of those, with plenty of fillings, as well as pre-filled ‘it’s not really ciabatta’ panini (I don’t mind that in a place like this – I was a bit shocked when the Italian deli in St Paul’s Road did the same) and unexpected snacks like mini-samosas.

Food: I had a mug of tea which, while under-watered, left the teabag in, which gave me plenty of scope for strength (is is me, though, or is there something design-unfriendly about those stainless steel mini-jugs of milk?) and two slices of brown toast with margarine. The toast was exactly what you would expect, but the whole thing, tea, toast and sitting came to a princely £1!  Felt like a bargain.