Monday, 26 September 2011

A review of Jones Dairy cafe

23 Ezra Street, London, E2 7RH (behind the Royal Oak pub on Columbia Road)

For a quiet breakfast on a Saturday morning in East London, you might want to try Jones’ Dairy cafe. On a Sunday it’s packed with people grabbing takeaways and oysters which is great in its own right, but not what you want if you’re after a relaxing brunch.

On Saturday mornings however, it’s usually nice and quiet with a selection of seating either outside, in the ‘lean-to’ or within the solid bricks and mortar of the cafe-proper. Tucked behind the deli, and down a cobbled side street, it’d be easy to miss were it not for the chalk board sentries at either end of the alleyway.

The quality of food here is without question (they specialise in organic, locally produced, and fair trade produce, sourced direct from the farm where possible), but the service is rather less than speedy. Some might see this as a criticism, but I for one like to be reminded to slow down a bit sometimes. After all, if you’re out for brunch at the weekend, what’s the rush? It’s a good thing in my eyes to be encouraged to pore over the menu, drink a whole cup of coffee before breakfast arrives and have time to read the weekend paper almost cover to cover. What else are weekends for?

It’s encouraging to note that this review is somewhat delayed because I had to return two weeks in a row to collect the photographic evidence I need to create a proper review. The first time, my breakfast arrived and I ate it so fast I forget to take a picture. That’s got to be a good sign right?

The first time, I had the full English breakfast. Some may say it’s expensive at near to £9, but bear in mind that this includes tea or coffee and toast with butter and jams on the side. Two people can have more than they could ever need to eat and drink for £20 with tip included. I think that’s pretty good myself.

The breakfast is a traditional affair - refreshing in the modern world of avocado and chipolata invasion.

There are plenty of other options if you don’t fancy the full breakfast with pastries, bagels, fish and plenty of variations of eggs to choose from. On my second visit I had the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon which, although swimming in a questionable substance I took to be milk, tasted delicious.

I’ve read a couple of reviews which note the ‘curt’ attitude of the staff, and did notice that the woman in charge seemed a little fraught. However, the weekend waitress staff were very polite and helpful. If you aim to turn up for about 11am there should be two on hand to see you right.

All in all, a lovely breakfast and cosy atmosphere. I almost can’t wait for it to start getting cold...

Jones Dairy has a website.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A review of Long White Cloud

151 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL

Always after a decent cooked breakfast within stumbling distance from our hovel, my fella and I set out on Saturday morning on the prowl for an antipodean-inspired breakfast of generous proportions. We ended up at Long White Cloud, a relatively new cafe/gallery/retail space on Hackney road currently sporting an exhibition entitled, ‘into the wild.’

If the birthing leopard/lady mural on the way in isn’t enough to put you off your eggs, it’s worth persevering and spending the required £10 to get yourself one of their ‘full’ breakfasts and a coffee or fruit juice. I went for the veggie option, which was creatively put together without a piece of ‘baconesque’ in sight. Managing to fill the plate with grilled halloumi, courgette, peppers, toast, beans (with a hint of cinnamon I think?), fried egg and spinach, was an impressive result in a city still not quite fully embracing our veggie pals.

Being nearly six foot, I eat a lot and am rarely satisfied with a meat free option. However, I am amazed to report that the veggie breakfast was enough to fill me up, not only until dinner, but throughout the teasing food parade which is Broadway market. I even turned down a cupcake.

My better half went for the scrambled eggs with chilli, which was also generously proportioned, but disappointingly under seasoned. I say under seasoned, by which I mean not seasoned at all. However, there were salt and pepper grinders on hand to rectify the situation quick smart.

I had a fresh orange juice which was delightful and without ‘bits,’ as I’m sure many will be pleased to hear. He had a cappuccino, which was a bit ‘milky’ (we like cappuccinos quite dry, i.e. the milk foamed, not just heated) but very tasty all the same.

 Venturing past the various wall hangings and two upright pianos which form the back of the food counter, I happened across a small stock of Aussie/Kiwi consumables. Seeing as I have rather a soft spot for caramel TimTams (they’re like penguin bars with caramel in), I found their stash rather endearing. However, I’m not sure being all things (cafe/gallery/shop), to all people (Londoners/Kiwis/Aussies) will work for everyone. My fella, for one, seemed all at sea.

Long white cloud are on Twitter and have a website

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Word cloud

I created this lovely word cloud of my blog using I thought it was pretty accurate.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A cafe crawl – Old Street/ Hackney Road

I feel bad for neglecting my blog of late (due to lounging on a beach in Greece) so am doing a ‘bumper’ blog post today with details of a rather decadent cafe crawl from Old Street station down Hackney Road towards east London.

This may seem like a bit of an odd route, so I’ll let you in on my inspiration: the number 55 bus. I get this bus, on this route, every day at 8am and then again at 5.30pm. I spend the 20 minutes it takes to get from Pritchard’s Road to Old Street, not only wedged under someone’s armpit, but staring out the window as an abundance of cafes speed by.

Given my never-ending cafe curiosity, you can appreciate that it’s about as much as I can do to not leap off the bus everyday to sample their delights. So, today I decided to boycott the bus and walk, stopping off to have a quick nose in each one and make a note of it for you. I will return to each and every one in due course for a full review, but for now, here’s a little taster:

Shoreditch Grind
213 Old Street
London EC1V 9NR
(Exit 8, Old Street Tube)


Only opened in June, this trendy street-side coffee bar does caffeine, cake, pastries, gourmet sandwiches and salads at surprisingly affordable prices.

Full review here.

374-378 Old Street
London EC1V 9LT

Mouth-watering delicatessen and deli, I only don’t stop by here on a daily basis because the prices are a little steep. Cosy cafe at the back serves roasts on a Sunday and other lunch options daily.

Review coming soon.

The Old Shoreditch Station
1 Kingsland Road
London E2 8AA


This cafe/bar inhabits an old station. With a ‘focus on great coffee during the daytimes and on whiskeys, wines and specialty beers in the night-times,’ you’ll be lucky to find a seat past 6pm.

Review coming soon.

Long White Cloud
151 Hackney Road
London E2 8JL


Badging itself as ‘Cafe, Gallery and Retail space’, this kiwi-export serves brunch and lunch in true Antipodean style.

Full review here.

The Premises 
209 Hackney Road
London E2 8JL


Attached to the music studio of the same name, the Premises does traditional English breakfasts (including a vegie option), lunches and Turkish dishes – an odd combination perhaps? We’ll see.
Review coming soon.

Esoteria Espresso Bar 
276 Hackney Road
London E2 7SJ


Coffee, cakes, tarts, savoury muffins, mini pies, bircher muesli and salads, this tiny cafe right on Hackney Road is popular for breakfast due to its convenient takeaway window.

Review coming soon.

Frizzante CafĂ© 
Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
London E2 8QA


Italian cafe/restaurant located on site at Hackney City Farm. Italian coffee, cakes, and a big Farm breakfast sit alongside their Mediterranean themed menu.

Review coming soon.

A review of Shoreditch Grind

213 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR (Exit 8, Old Street Tube)

Only opened in June, this trendy street-side coffee bar does caffeine, cake, pastries, gourmet sandwiches and salads at surprisingly affordable prices. Their cinema-esque signage adds a touch of humour with an ever changing slogan - follow them on Twitter and you might even get to suggest one.

I’m really pleased (if a little surprised) to report that this new Shoreditch coffee destination is uncharacteristically unpretentious, with realistic prices and a relaxed atmosphere. We stopped by on a Saturday morning and were greeted by a short queue and our choice of the seating on offer.

We had a cappuccino, latte and pain au chocolat as (regrettably) it was too early for lunch. They use their own house blend of coffee, and I must admit I found it rather too bitter and had to add some sugar to enjoy my latte. However, I know that many like their coffee tongue-tingling so cannot really mark them down on this front.

Window-side stools with easy access to plugs for your laptop straddle the floor to ceiling windows, allowing you to catch up on some work/socialising whilst quenching your thirst and appetite. The two magazines left strewn on the tables (MensHealth and The Economist) hinted at the usual weekday clientele, but at the weekend we felt at home next to firemen, tourists, and local scenesters.

The unparalleled fishbowl view of Old Street round-a-bout becomes unexpectedly picturesque when framed by their windows, and I would easily dally for a while people watching over lunch on a future visit.

Check out their website, or follow them on Twitter.