Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Out Of Town

Out Of Town is quite a groovy little find. Down a quiet street in Clerkenwell, the neon sign of ‘Café Shop Bar’ tells the street exactly what’s going on here. There is an old scooter in the window too and some signage of daily specials to catch unsuspecting eyes.
Inside is visually very busy. At first glance it’s retro in that tatty, yellow and brown way, like one of the Brick Lane Sunday markets. On closer investigation, it’s quite an orderly and well-edited chaos. Everything for sale seems to be the rule here – and the space is decorated with vintage, retro and mid-Century tables and chairs, with plenty of nick-nacks, oddities, wonders and curios around the periphery of the shop. They sell a decent range of utilitarian and rockabilly men’s clothes (think Dickies and lesser known Levis denim series) as well as some vintage tees for good measure. Johnny Cash is the soundtrack, and the café counter is at the back.
 Today’s specials are smoked mackerel on toast and Welsh rarebit – it’s mainly drinks and cake I think, but they do a fine range of breaded products to capture the lunch market and provide some sustenance. There’s also beer I believe.
I order a croque monsieur (£4) which is a thing of great simplicity and beauty, and yet often messed up. The amount of times I have received a cheese and ham toastie, or a barely grilled ham and cheese sandwich is depressing. I’ve paid much more at places which should know better, such as Raoul’s, so I’m excited but also a little nervous. I don’t mind a flutter and this has echoes of that, albeit on a sandwich-led field. Although the rarebit special is a bit of a hint that it’ll deliver.

And it does; properly executed, with a tangy gruyere taste which is so creamy-that- it’s melted almost into a béchamel sauce, as I’ve had on posher croques in France. Nice ham. Plain bread. Just as it should be. Sadly no frites on the side, as at my guilty pleasure, Café Rouge, but I digress…

The Monmouth coffee is well made and 30 seconds walk from StAli, people coming into a random retro and vintage shop to grab their takeaway coffees is a great endorsement. I’ll definitely be back to try some other dishes – toasted if I were a betting man…

Food – 7/10
Drink – 7/10
Value – 9/10
Service - 8/10 (friendly, laidback)
Staff Hotness – 8/10 (couple of pretty well turned out blokes)

Out Of Town
30a Great Sutton Street, EC1, Clerkenwell
(Website not working?) -
Out Of Town on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Look Mum No Hands!

I headed to this temple to all things cycling for a quick lunch – I’ve heard tell of their baked goods so thought I’d swing by, a second class citizen on foot, and indulge.

This is so East London. Even though it’s on the City/Clerkenwell fringes, the amount of fixed gear bikes, the early Arcade Fire in the air and the rollie-smokers posing on picnic tables outside puts you firmly in E2 or these days probably E8. Inside it’s a mix of modern bike shop and a museum to cycling memorabilia and artwork, but overwhelmingly a café space.

 They sell booze for the evenings (well selected beers from Meantime, Bath Ales and some smaller Belgian breweries) and breakfasts, but I’m here for the pies. Alongside steak & cheese, thai green curry chicken and a few butternut squash veggie ones , the chilli beef and cheddar (£4.95 solo, £7.95 with a plate of mixed fancy salads) calls to me. It’s a shame the servers don’t…as my order is forgotten.

15 minutes later (they are not to order but pre-cooked and refrigerated by the till) and I check on my pie’s arrival. The servers are apologetic and aghast (almost worryingly so) and my pie takes another few minutes – reassuringly long enough to have gone in the oven I clocked, rather than a backstage microwave for brevity.

I’m comped some salad (I went for pie only) and offered a coffee on my way out, as well as more contrition. I almost feel bad now, but am also too hungry to worry about it – which is why the pie goes un-photographed. Oops.  The pie indeed tastes homemade, the chilli has a bit of piquant but not too much, and it’s cheesy.

My long black is Square Mile, nice and small as it should be, and well pulled. I think this places needs the benefit of the doubt – an honest mistake is more than compensated, they seem to care very much and juggle the café/bar with the bike repair and supplies functions rather seamlessly. And I don’t feel as unwelcome as a suit in Shoreditch, all smart and bike-less on my lunch break.

Food – 7/10
Drink – 8/10
Service – 5/10 (have to mark it down on my own experience, but I imagine it’s usually much better)
Value – 7/10
Staff Hotness – 6/10 (not as sporty looking as you might think, more WI…)

Look Mum No Hands!
49 Old Street, EC1
Look Mum No Hands on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Prolonged absence...

Just a very quick one - this blog has not been abandoned! Due to a holiday, moving house and moving jobs in quick succession, I haven't really had internet access or time. Lots of mini reviews and pics to come though...

Two new, more foodie locations should lead to lots of exciting new places to pig out, so hold tight my cherubs, I'll be back soon!