101 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 0UD
There’ s something deliciously theatrical about this much-loved Church Street café. Opulent blue velvet curtains drape seductively across the front windows; blackboard menus are framed in old gilt picture frames; a ceiling painting gives the impression of light blue sky and fluffy clouds above. That’s not to mention the colourful totem pole set into one of the alcoves, from where Punch and Judy, Mr Toad and Tweedledum (or is it Tweedledee?) reign over the front room. An ever-crowded conservatory offers overspill space at the back, but the front room is cosier and funkier, with its green plants, splashy local art and low-key world music soundtrack. The food, mostly veggie and with Mediterranean accents, is delicious and very good value – breakfasts, served until 4pm, include a superb eggs Florentine, organic honey waffles with fruit, and a satisfying full English with Cumberland sausages. Weekend brunches are hugely popular, so you may have to wait for a table. Lunches are superb value, especially if you plump for a counter special of the day – a tahini and chickpea burger, for example, or a spinach galette with four side salads – for around £6; or you could just go for a salad or a panini. The fresh and healthy juices feel a little on the pricey side compared to the rest of the menu, but are simply delicious – try the carrot, orange and ginger. The kid’s menu offers pretty much the same kind of food but in smaller portions. The Blue Legume opens occasionally and for short stretches in the evening, when they serve a light tapas-style menu.