Tucked away behind Angel station, you’d be hard pressed to find this little cafe if you didn’t know where it was. Part of the Candid Arts Trust, this unique eatery is not only down a back alley but also up some pretty unwelcoming looking stairs (think student stairwell). But it is worth the trek – it’s the kind of place you might see in an arty film or a music video.
Coffee – 3/5
This place isn’t really about the coffee, it’s about the atmosphere and the food. However, the coffee isn’t too bad, it’s just not great. It has a smokey flavour but was a bit over-milked (I did, foolishly, go for the large), a small, thin foam, was a bit watery and a little too hot. It was strong and was perfectly drinkable, just don’t expect a top quality brew. It was pretty cheap at £2.40 for a large.
Atmosphere – 5/5
This place drip atmosphere. Looking like a film set, it takes shabby chic to a new level. Windows with two-person seating down one side, a huge Gothic-looking dining table with tea-pots full of flowers in the centre and a massive mural of a naked woman flanked by fake Greek columns on the bottom wall, this is exactly what you’d expect from a cafe run by arty types. It’s almost a parody of a typical arty cafe but, as it’s not changed over the years’ to stay “fashionable”, it gets away with it – it is what it is.
Food – 4/4
Serving Mediterranean food with a leaning towards vegetarian, the food looked great. Not only has it got the requisite soup it also had mains including Salmon fillet with salsa and rice and veggy curry. Big portions and a great price (around £7 for a main) means this is a great place to grab a healthy bite.
Service – 2/3
While the service is normally excellent, it can take a bit long on busier days. It’s one of those mixtures between order at the counter and table service systems which never seem to properly work.
Extras – 3/3
As part of the Candid Arts Trust, it does a bit of everything here from rehearsal space, galleries, art classes, print-making and so much more. It’s also one of the few cafe in an arts space that has it’s own identity while also being very much part of the bigger picture.
Summary – 17/20
Manages to balance being individual and arty without becoming pretentious and try-hard. You get feeling that if you came back here in 10 years time, it’d be exactly the same, maybe just a bit shabbier. An Islington institution and a unique cafe. I just wish they’d bring in a proper brew.
3 Torrens St,
Tel: 020 7278 9368