Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.


Cafe Rendezvous, Highbury Park, N4

December 30, 2011

First visited January 2011. Last visited 30th December 2011.

Interior: A proper modern classic this one: shiny plastic tables and chairs with red leatherette trim, fake brickwork on the walls and bright, laminated menus. The welcome was so-so for me but extremely cordial for the many locals, so I’m guessing you have to earn it with regular visits.

Food: I had a really excellent vegetarian breakfast. Loads of mushrooms, a grilled tomato, fried egg, beans and lovely patty of bubble. In some ways it didn’t feel unhealthy enough but was very welcome given the hangover I was treating. Tea was on the milky side but strong enough that it stood up to it. And in a mug. I had two. Given the first one was included in the set breakfast price, a fiver seemed like a bargain.

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.

The Wine Cellar, Kentish Town Road

August 16, 2011

First visited Tuesday 16th August 2011

It’s not strictly true to say that I first visited the wine cellar on this date, as I’d been in a few times in the past for spicy sausages, vinho verde and the like. However, this was my first visit to sit indoors and have a hot drink. And yes it is a caff, but it’s also a delicatessen! which makes the interior quite fun and a bit tempting. Staff are friendly (although much friendlier to the cute 3 year old on the table next door than to me) and it’s a pleasant place to spend half an hour, although probably a bit small to expect to read a book there for an afternoon.

The wine cellar does the full range of sandwiches you might expect but I went a bit off course and had a pasteis de bachaulau. Heated up the in the microwave it was yummy! Decaff coffee was really quite nice although I felt a bit embarassed asking for it. The last time I did that in a portugese place (in vauxhall), they let me add the sachet of instant (presumably so I wouldn’t think such foul brown water was anything like their *real* coffee). The two proprietresses had to confer as to whether or not they did it but were quite happy to make it and it did come out of the machine. You can’t get a full breakfast here, but there are some really interesting fishy looking sandwich fillings and they do hot dishes too.

Kent Cafe, Kentish Town Road

June 11, 2011

First visited: Saturday 11th June 2011

Interior: A standard bright, laminated menu, all-day-breakfasts caff. Friendly staff, blokey clientele (on my visit, this produced an immensely detailed exchange about Turkish club football – I think the English customer knew more than the Turkish bloke serving him). My experience was slightly marred by a big screen but they were showing trooping of the colour which is a bit more soothing than many alternatives (I’d had to leave KooKoo across the road without ordering because they had *two* screens showing a Rihanna video and that’s really not breakfast fodder).

Food: I was really impressed with my veg breakfast (although it was more food than I should have had): tasty mushrooms, tomatoes and fried egg, really nice bubble and beans that were firmer and less sweet than you tend to get (because they were a cheap generic brand rather than Heinz?). The tea was overmilked and in one of those dwarf mugs, but that’s better than a cup. But the best thing – the whole thing came to £4.50, including 2 slices of toast and the drink. A bargain!

Cafe Mike, Finsbury Park Station

December 29, 2010

Visited Monday 20th December 2010


There’s something of a 70s feel to this cafe, with log cabin steakhouse and Italian coffee bar features. A lot of caffs built into the fabric of stations are very dark, but this one manages to make the most of the natural light from its front window. Friendly welcome and nice and warm on a chilly day.

Food: I’d intended to just have a cup of tea and slice of toast, but they don’t really do English breakfast here. Other customers were all eating croissants. I went for roasted veg panino in the end. It wasn’t really very special, but it filled a gap and prepared me for my brave venture to Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The tea was bizarrely served in a tall glass (reminding me a bit of the smoked glass mugs that very sophisticated caffs used to use in the early 1980s) and was a bit milky, but welcome all the same.

Archway Town Cafe, Junction Road, N19

June 12, 2010

Visited: Saturday 12th June 2010

Interior:  Absolutely standard plastic tables, laminated menus and ‘menu above the counter’, but none the worse for that. It’s a bigger space than some of its neighbours, but doesn’t feel impersonal, partly because the staff were extremely friendly. It’s clientele was local and looked to be of long standing, but was also notable because it was largely female. Younger women accompanied by pushchairs mostly sat outside. Older women, with the Irish accents I remember from the Archway of my youth, sat inside.

Food: I had an indifferent tomato and mushrooms on toast. The bread wasn’t great and the tomatoes sparse, but the mushrooms were good (if not on a Perugino or Double Six type of scale). And I can’t complain, with two mugs of (slightly overmilked) tea, it came to £3.40.

Pleasant Cafe, Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells

May 24, 2010

Visited: Sunday 23rd May 2010

I’ll have to update my taxonomy of types as this is a real 1970s classic – vinyl ’tiled’ flooring, wipe-clean (but not decorative) tiles, open counter, fluorescent lighting. A few plants and wooden tables and chairs gave it a more refined feel, suitable to its location. I was pretty impressed that three caffs were open next to the station on a Sunday lunchtime, and this was certainly the most greasy-spoonlike, and thoroughly charming for it.

I had a cheese toasty, made without Breville (ie toast, cheese and microwave) and very nice it was too. Tea was a bit disappointing, as it was made in a little metal pot, and didn’t have much substance to it, but Tunbridge Wells is the kind of place where even the greasies use individual teapots rather than having a great big one  pouring orange headblaster.

Spreads, New Row, Covent Garden

February 23, 2010

Visited: Friday 19th February 2010


I’d always avoided Spreads because of its position in the heart of tourist land. After all, if you can entice people in to pay 9 pounds for fish and chips that went direct from freezer to microwave, why make an effort? However, I’m very glad I gave it a chance. On a rainy Friday afternoon, Spreads was extremely comforting and cosy. And the clientele clearly not just tourists. The decor is somewhat remniscent of the kinds of cafes-cum-restaurants that you get in English holiday fishing villages, but with strong overtones of raffia-chianti trattoria as well. Pulp film posters in Italian added to this latter feel and they do indeed have a  pizza and pasta menu. Wooden tables add to the cosy atmosphere and I was lucky, dining solo, that they had a one-person (or two friendly folk sitting side by side) table so I wasn’t hassled to leave.

Food: I had a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw and a decaff coffee, both very nice indeed. The jacket was edible right to the skin, suggesting it had been baked thoroughly before being microwaved and the filling had just the right amount of gooey elastics of melting cheese to mash up into the potato flesh. Salad garnish was on the substantial side although it’s a shame there was no dressing among the condiments (apart from malt vinegar). It wasn’t the cheapest, but given the quality, I’m not complaining. I’ve certainly had worse!

Ruskins Cafe, Museum Street

November 23, 2009

Visited: Saturday 15th November 2009

Interior: Ruskin’s is one of the more attractive cafe options in a somewhat touristy part of London – its tiled interior only slightly marred by bog-standard chairs and tables and a terrible inclination to keep the door open. Unfortunately, the welcome does not match the appearance – our stroppy waitress only temporarily dropped her mobile to bellow that we must collect our drinks ourselves when we attempted to drop our bags at a table.

Food: Beans on toast was one of the more pathetic effort – from its sparse appearance, a mini-tin of Heinz had been shared between two of us. There was barely enough to cover one piece of flabby, soggy toast, let alone four. And no, a slice of cucumber and quarter of a tomato does not make it worth 2.50 each, especially when an ordinary sized cup of tea costs £2. Poor showing all round.