In her second guide of the series, London Coffee Festival team member Karen Anderson crawls the streets between Silicon Roundabout and Clerkenwell, on the hunt for the best coffee shops, delicious eateries, and the coolest haunts.
Unless somebody told you where it is or you naturally have beady eyes, you might easily walk past Ozone Coffee Roasters, never knowing it was there. Hidden just around the corner from Old Street Roundabout, this unassuming venue from the outside, couldn’t be cooler on the inside. Part roaster, part café, Ozone manages the arguably difficult task of making science and technology ‘hip’, thanks so its custom built Strada; order an espresso-based coffee and you can watch the machine’s inbuilt scales adjust on an iPad screen as your drink is being poured…very snazzy indeed.
That’s not all that’s impressive though. Served all the way up until 4pm on weekends, Ozone’s extensive ‘brunch’ menu is the perfect way to nurse away any aches from the night before. Not feeling worse for wear (on this particular occasion), I washed my Columbian Guacacayo coffee down with an old faithful – a Bloody Mary – as well as a plate of Portobello mushrooms on sourdough toast with Swiss cheese, basil and cream fraiche. Not a bad way to start the day.
And nor is cycling around London – unless you have a punctured tire. What better excuse then to stop off at Look Mum No Hands – a colourful cycle café that boasts five full time mechanics, as well as an assortment of delicious food, beers and coffees by Square Mile Coffee Roasters. If you’re feeling really wild, you could try the guest espresso – or even go Cycle Speed Dating, one of the many events they hold aimed at 22-35 year olds. Not a cyclist or looking for a hot date? Try Workshop Coffee in Clerkenwell instead, home to Coffee Masters London 2015 champion James Bailey. According to the Observer Food Monthly, the restaurant offers London’s ‘Best Vegetarian Breakfast.’ With dishes on the menu such as brioche, poached plum, orange mascarpone and hazelnuts, I’m not at all surprised.
Bike fixed and having cycled who knows how many miles, it was time for an energy boost and spot of retail therapy. The crisp, November air had me craving something rich and indulgent, and so a trip to St. John
bar and restaurant was a no-brainer. Housed in a Georgian building that was once a Chinese beer store, St John offers unashamedly coma-inducing food. Imagine the likes of Potted Pork and Rabbit or Grilled Ox Heart with Green Beans and Horseradish and you won’t be far wrong. Last year, London Coffee Festival goers who visited the White Label Kitchen were lucky enough to sample food from St. John's pop-up...the oozy Rarebit Toastie that's also a regular on the main menu is reason alone to go.
It wouldn’t be a proper weekend without at least some window-shopping, and so off I went to the 13,000 sq. ft. space on Farringdon road aptly named Clerkenwell London
. Described as a ‘destination for the discovery of niche and established designers, creatives and artisans,’ it showcases a carefully selected collection of male and female fashion, home-ware, art, music and literature. Expect to see pieces by designers such as Rachel Boston
, Olive Cooper
and Tree Couture
. Most appealing to me though, was its numerous ‘experience’ areas, including a Vinyl Lounge complete with vintage furniture and custom DJ booth, self-explanatory Martini Bar, and finally Wine Library, an area full to the
brim with emerging New World types. And, if you start to have withdrawal symptoms, you can even treat yourself to a coffee that’s been roasted by our first venue, Ozone.
At the risk of deviating from window-shopping and spending actual money, I decided to get my afternoon caffeine fix about five minutes away at Caravan Coffee Roasters, the official sponsor of Coffee Masters London, 2016. Perched at one end of Exmouth Market, this roaster-come-restaurant mirrors the market’s gritty yet stylish feel thanks to its exposed concrete floor, industrial shelves and French bistro-inspired chairs. Visit during the summer months and you’ll discover that its large bi-fold doors have been thrown open, welcoming in the sights and sounds of the street. Sipping on an Kenyan Karimikui AB filter coffee – with beautiful intense cherry sweetness and light tea notes – I perused the restaurant’s mouth-watering menu… it’s fair to say Caravan’s high on my list of brunch venues next time I’m in the area.
Feeling the need to move on to a more alcoholic affair, I walked the stone’s throw across the road to Underground, a cocktail bar in the basement of Italian eatery Paesan. Open until 3am every Friday and Saturday, it’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail or two whilst listening to the sounds of their resident DJ. Fancy a more sophisticated soiree? The Cocktail Lounge at the Zetter Townhouse is the place for you. Sumptous and cosy, it’s designed to feel like the private residence of your ‘most beloved and eccentric Great Aunt,’ a fictional character called Wilhelmina. Ladies, why not try the Secret Garden, a fragrant concoction of rose liqueur, Eau de vie d’Eglantine & Jacques Picard Champagne? Gents, perhaps a Dreaming of Salmon: whiskey blended with plumb shrub?
Drinks must always be followed by an easy route home, making Iberica in Farringdon an obvious choice for dinner. Conveniently situated right next to the train station, this decedent yet laid-back restaurant has the real wow factor when it comes to service. The food’s seriously good too. Overwhelmed by the delicious and extensive menu, I willed my waiter to choose my tapas for me. To start, white tuna belly in escabeche sauce, Manchego Artisan cured D.O.P and Urgell D.O.P cheese with toasted bread and tomato. To follow, asparagus, manchego, onion confit and truffle oil toast, padron peppers with Maldon salt and the Iberica octopus a la gallega with potatoes and pimento de la Vera. If, unlike me you eat meat, I'm told you must also try the Bellota – a cured ham produced in Spain from piglets who are fed on barley and maize before feeding naturally on grass, herbs and acorns. Wash down with a bottle of Zurbal Viura D.O Ca Rioja, and you will be in absolute heaven.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of the Weekend Guide, out next month.