Two cafes with a strict message for bored Londoners.
London is full of eateries, cafes, restaurants and take-away stores but most are a product of longevity rather than carefully crafted culinary ambitions. Despite this, two diversely different models are meeting the demands of the ever-so-bored Londoner, offering customers more than just coffee and a sandwich upon their visit. Such concepts have swept across the north-east of the USA, the south-east of Australia and hybrid hipster cities such as Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong and San Francisco and ultimately aim to provide you with an experience rather than the necessity of lunch.
Ask for Janice in Farringdon offers the trifecta of brunching, lunching and boozing with it’s all in one large, open, bright and loud café cum restaurant cum bar. Serving all three menus along with a special Saturday brunch menu, the café delivers seasonal British fare alongside coffee courtesy of Coleman coffee roasters and an all day bar stocked with beers from England and Germany and a sizeable wine and spirit list.
The food is mouth watering, tasting of freshly homemade ingredients, simplistic but full of wholesome flavour. The Avocado on toast served with a poached egg atop chilli and coriander was basic and comfortable. Whilst, my palate enjoys the strong flavours that come from chilli and coriander, I found the amount on this dish a little light on, but for those who enjoy a milder taste, I can highly recommend the dish.
The baked eggs with sausage and yoghurt on the other hand, was dripping in strong and warm texture. The tomato ragu was the perfect consistency and sat perfectly underneath the crispy, baked top of the dish.
The floor space has been carefully crafted from hand selected second hand store furniture like something out of Grandma’s kitchen in the 1970s and has a large basement bar and ground floor-dining area around the main bar. The café is open every day except Sunday, staying open late during the week.
On the other hand, Look Mum, no hands is a café that is 100% focused on bikes, bikes, bikes. Sporting no less than four TV / projector screens, the café streams cycling races from around the world every time they are on.
On the weekends, there is a strict “no wifi” policy to ensure eager bloggers with their computers refrain from clogging up table space from the eager MAMIL who keep their $5000 + bikes within viewing distance as they attend their mid-ride luncheon. The café in Old Street is also a workshop and merch store where both lycra victims and regular joes can buy bike decorated wrapping paper, bike parts, lycra and all the rest.
The café is pretty good too with dark-Italian style roasted coffee, soups, stews, sandwiches and cakes available as well as English breakfast.
With two locations, Old Street a café and bike workshop, Mare Street a café serving up similar pre-mid-and-post cycle cuisine, and a third pop-up location coming in May, the workshop/café idea is sure to expand into other markets in the year to come.