Brace yourself for the fantastical decor here, with acres of brocade, phoney Old Masters, ornate mirrors and lamps and throne-like gilded seats: the effect is gypsy caravan meets shabby stately home. Feast on Turkish pastries and baklava, great coffee and cakes – and booze.
This swish café/deli run by a husband-and-wife team takes salads to a new level. Their flavour-rich combinations such as roasted butternut squash with feta cheese, roasted chickpeas,crispy sage and caramalised onion are sweetly satisfying.
This sustainable café is in the unlikely but dramatic surrounds of the Castle Climbing Centre. Much of the food comes from the kitchen garden, and it’s all delicious and affordable: just £3 for soup and bread.
Tucked under a brick railway arch near London Fields, the Bakehouse café serves sourdough sandwiches, cakes and coffee, plus hot dishes at lunch and pizza on Sundays. You can watch dough being pummelled and kneaded in the bakery at the back, where they run excellent breadmaking courses.
Colourful decor, a lovely farmyard setting and a serious attitude to food; on Thursdays there is ‘agriturismo’, with a menu of seasonal Italian food plus live music.
This smart Stokey café is recommended for Middle East-inspired brunch dishes. Try Iraqi aubergine pitta, shakshuka (baked eggs) and homemade breads with date butter and za’atar.
This small, unassuming stall in Gillett Square is run by the affable Markus who serves Ethiopian coffee imported directly from his wild-coffee plantation in Kaffa. Roasted on site every morning, the best time to stop by is Saturday when the coffee is traditionally prepared in a beautiful clay jebena (kettle) heated on a charcoal stove that sends out wafts of smoke.
Excellent not-for-profit organic café opened by Russell Brand on the New Era estate and run by recovering addicts.
Tina We Salute You
This small corner café employs local artists to imaginatively revamp the decor every six weeks, as well as the wall outside. The coffee and pastries are pretty good too.