Wow! Now this is more like it! A dimly lit, modern yet warm space, set back from the road. When I was there, Portishead and Massive Attack were providing a sultry, moody soundtrack. Who would have thought a coffee house could make a great location for a 2nd or 3rd date? We haven't even got to the food, drink or service yet.
The coffee is certainly impressive. I was a fan of Workshop's coffee before I came here so the top quality of the Columbian aeropress filter I went for didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the price: £4 may still seem high to Aeropress sceptics, but it's actually good value - nearby Prufrock charge between £4.50-£5 and the more distant Talkhouse Coffee £3.30-£4. Service was friendly, and admirably quick, if perhaps a little gruff - they did seem a bit short-staffed. Being served a glass of tap water was a nice touch.
Another plus of this place for me was that it pioneers what I think should be a natural direction for top coffee houses - it sells craft beer too. Just two on the bar menu, it's true, from Camden and the Kernel, but still, it's a start, and a welcome way to break up one's caffeine intake during long stays. I didn't try the food, but the menu is comprehensive. The fact too that mere drinkers such as I were confined to the bar shows how seriously they take the food side of things.
Like most serious coffee houses it also sells coffee-making equipment for the enthusiast: Aeropresses, Hario V60s and such like as well as digital scales for weighing out those beans. They also have plenty of their coffee - beans and ground - for sale too.
One major downside for me was the stunning lack of wifi. That, plus the poor mobile reception inside made surfing near-impossible. I actually have to wonder whether that's a deliberate move to deter the low-spending, long-loitering student crowd. It is annoying but not quite enough to dislodge its 5 star status for me.
First time having breakfast here and it was just what was called for, the coffee here is excellent so the mocha was always going to be a winner and the "full benedict" comes slathered in a punchy Chipotle hollandaise which really hits the spot.
I often come here for lunch and the menu seems to change seasonally, it's always worth a look and the staff are really amiable too which always helps.
Workshop coffee is my go-to brunch spot for friends near and far. The coffee is delicious, but definitely pricey (£4-5 for a "specialty" like a cappucino) so that's the -1 star
The food though....so good. It's fresh, simple, and the portions are quite generous. Do yourself a favor and order the banana bread with whipped marscapone and figs. Pair with an Americano and a good friend and you have got yourself a perfectly wonderful weekend afternoon!
The coffee was very good but short of amazing - my single-origin pourovers were fine, but didn't blow my mind for the price. I couldn't get a flat white for some reason - I think it was too early? The space is very nice, in the current style that I think of as "Brooklyn rustic modern," the food is good, and the staff were friendly. If my second visit is stellar, I may upgrade them to 5 stars, but for now they're a solid 4.
Workshop coffee is amazing! Workshop food is amazing!
* Yukro AeroPress - light & smooth, even dark roast lovers may appreciate
* Plain Croissant - so fresh! so good that it's totally worth the gluten
* Fried Eggs Side - perfectly cooked: 2/3rds runny 1/3 solid yolk
* Smoked Salmon Side - yum, always
* Kasundi (free surprise bonus!) - holy tastebuds!! Go here just for this.
* Toast (free surprise bonus!) - thick, buttered, coarse multi grain goodness. everything's better with a runny egg (or two) on it. this was outshined by the croissant... Gluten-haters can stay pure&faithful and bypass this
Reminiscent of San Francisco's Four Barrel. These people know their coffee. Even though they "do not do dark roast" (as their staff kindly informed me), I was super thrilled with my Yukro AeroPressed mini-pot (so light & smooth!). [Yay AeroPress! Representing Palo Alto, CA!] I may not be a light-roast convert quite yet but it was nice :)
The plain croissant is one of the best I've had, ever. Side of fried eggs, side of smoked salmon arrived on a thick buttered grainy toast with some amazing & surprising tomato kasundi spread in a little tub on the side. Can't wait to recreate this spread at home later, That Good.
Decent sized portions, unfortunately for me. I was planning on taking it light this morning, having a few bites and moving on to exploring the city & indulging in another extraordinary meal with little delay but alas... the Food was too damn Good.
I was too full to have anything but coffee and fro-yo until 8 hours later. Foodie fail, but this breakfast was totally worth it!
The corn fritters with halloumi are a definite must if you're going to this cafe. I find myself in here quite often for breakfast or brunch and I don't really recall a bad experience. Coffee is good but the staff can get slow-ish if there are a lot of people inside. There was also this one time when they have mistaken our order but it was quickly rectified when I rose the issue.
Beware of the automatically added service charge of 12.5%
So, I don't drink coffee. It is a much overrated bean in my humble opinion and sadly rules me out of being able to judge Workshop's main asset. I do however like eggs, halloumi and corn fritters...
That's what I had for breakfast and when it arrived I couldn't help but think "what a bonkers combination!" All the component parts were good, I just don't feel they went very well together. The corn fritters were massive and the halloumi slithers were just too small and insubstantial to have any great effect on the dish as a whole. Shame. I love halloumi.
I was thinking about ordering the french toast with rhubarb, orange mascarpone and hazelnuts. And by gum, I wish I did as it looked amazingly good. Soft brioche was stewed rhubarb topped off with gooey orange. I had food envy the whole time I was there.
The place is great with a gorgeous decor and a very laid back vibe. Oddly, they have no wifi! Weird as it seems like the perfect place to grab a cup of something and do a bit of work.
I will go back. I need that french toast...but I'll be giving the corn fritters a miss.
Well, when one gets to eat at a place with the one and only person that "FTR"ed it, it deserves an update I think!
Met Uli B here for breakfast (you can all thank him for reviewing this first!) -- and was delighted to find rhubarb french toast with heavy cream on the menu. Well of course, I'll have THAT. Plus, two scrambled eggs on the side which came out perfectly. Just how I like them.
Top it off with a beautiful chamomile tea, and this was a very enjoyable breakfast. It's always a treat to eat at Workshop, especially midweek when things are a bit calmer and there is no rush or que.
Like Uli before me, found this place to be very good, but bordering on totally annoying.
Having never had an aeropress coffee, I casually asked the barista if the machine she was using was an aeropress; she responded disdainfully that it was an espresso machine. I mean, it was a dumb question and of course it was an espresso machine, but how did I know aeropress wasn't some function on their obviously top-of-the-line espresso thingy? In any event, she was very friendly and gave me a short education on coffee so screw you Josh for being a jerkoff.
Well aside from taking forever, my coffee was great. It was on the small side and way too expensive for a coffee (more than a pint of ale), but excellent. I'm currently caffeinated and writing this pointless review at breakneck speed. They don't give customer the option to add milk or sugar (aka trust the customer to fuck up their perfect cup) so I drank that concoction virgin, and it was pretty pleased I wasn't given the opportunity to add milk or sugar as it was perfect as is. That said, measuring, weighing, reweighing, etc., etc., seems like a pain in the ass but if it makes them happy good for them!
I'd go back, possibly even today, but would I let them know how much I liked the coffee? Never.
True story? I'd prolly give this a 3.5, but I rounded up because I'm buzzing on coffee and the waitress was super smiley in a way that made me smiley (message, kids: smiles - pass 'em on!).
First off: I trust Colleen C's reviews, so I was expecting great things. I think I should return here for some brunch-y options and Hair of the Dog-style offerings. In fact, I WILL.
Instead of brunch, though, my first visit to Workshop was mid-week, mid-day. It was somewhat slammed, but the staff was great. Not understaffed (yay) and helpful. I didn't really know what to do (queue where?) and it was loud so I didn't get my order just right (mumblewhat?), which was totally my bad.
The lunch to-go options are grand: crumbly bars, and rocky road marshmallow-stuffed treats, and quiche-y tarts and a (only slight exaggeration) hundred layer pressed meat sandwich that required an extra jaw maneuver to get my mouth around.
I didn't stay, but the setting was nice. Wood, and the coffee bar at the centre of the space. People working, chatting; there are chairs/tables, the bar, and an upstairs space.
Coffee-wise, I should have gone for aeropress, but I did my standard flat white. And bought some beans to test at home.
It's unfair to match this against Monmouth, which (as my reviews'll prove) is my go-to for coffee. And yet...I will. Workshop Coffee is a different beast, somehow; more of my once-in-a-while, as opposed to my everyday brew. I find the blends interesting, and complex but more...erm...bitter? Acidic? than the coffee I'm used to. It was a nice change, but I don't think it'll replace my usual order.
Yelp note: big ups for fresh mint tea, Workshop!
We only stopped by here for a quick cuppa before dinner, so our review is a bit limited.
We couldn't figure out if Workshop was a third-wave coffee shop (given the roasting and packing gear in the back), a bar (given that everyone else at the bar had an adult beverage), or a restaurant (given the delicious looking burgers that everyone was devouring).
At the very least, it is a good coffee joint. Wife and I both had espresso drinks- a latte for her and a macchiato for me. Both were good- the shots were well-pulled and the milk was well steamed. Décor was also memorable. Next time we're around, we'll come back for a full meal!
Not much to say. Interior is fab. The upstairs opens for breakfast around 8.30 and the ground floor gets quite packed around 8pm.
Food and coffee are both exceptional. As expected orange juice is the freshly squeezed variety. You can't go wrong with the breakfast corn fritters or Poached eggs with sourdough and Tomato Kasundi. Oh the tomato Kasundi is divine. Portions big and hearty, food quality consistently high and staff super attentive.
Only Upside/Downside is no WIFI. Exceptionally strange, as you still get the laptop peeps in here, but nowhere near as many were it to offer free wifi. Laptop "workers" usually hog a table for 4 people with just themselves, so this is an upside for me. However it might remove the type of customer who would have work meetings here.
This is the first time I've been back since I went right after they opened, more than two years ago. Its still very popular - completely packed on a Sunday afternoon, with a queue waiting for a table.
The place hasn't changed. Great coffees - especially the aeropress ones, although I think they are overpriced for a small cup at £4. They're good... but are they that good to justify the extra price?
Food is amazing, especially their brunch menu items. Fully recommend the corn fritters with halloumi cheese and two poached eggs.
Where the place falls short and the reason for 3 stars instead of four are two areas:
1) Service - it was efficient, but cold. Also our food came before our coffees, they had clearly forgotten but surely should pick up that if the food arrives and there are no drinks on the table, something is wrong? Had to flag a waitress down, who then dutifully got the coffee orders expedited.
2) Service charge - 12.5% automatically added to the bill, despite this being a casual dining place and minimal service, plus the screw up with the coffees. No offer to waive the service charge or a free coffee. If you're going to automatically charge 12.5%, make sure your service is impeccable and up to par.
I think this place has rested on its success over the two years. I will be going to Timberyard for brunch next time, just down the road.
Came in here last night with a couple of friends looking to do some reading and grab a light bite.
I didn't have any coffee (my partner did), but the tea was extremely expensive, as in 3.5 pounds for a small pot! I also found it ridiculous that their fries and wings cost as much as they did. Just for some regular fries, fried i think in peanut oil no less, was 3 pounds as well. The chicken wings were almost 6 pounds and guess what, there were only three of them! This would be fair were the service good and the people friendly. I found the manager to be rude and offensive. When we moved from the extremely cramped bar (which lacks coat hooks, by the way) to the larger table in the back, he proceeded to inform us that we had to leave in an hour and a half because a reservation was coming in. Fair enough. Then, every time he came by he would bang plates around us, emanating a general feeling of unwelcomeness.
18 pounds for 1 coffee, 2 teas some fries and three chicken wings. Give me a break. I'll throw them an extra star because the barista was friendly and could take a joke.
Fantastic brunch spot! A friend and I wanted one meal together before I left London, and we decided that between Angel and Whitechapel, Farringdon was a great place to meet. Workshop Coffee was perfect for us, and oh so delicious.
I had the BLT, which was a good price for a reasonable portion size, and my friend had French Toast with a berry compote. Her portion size was a bit smaller than the price suggested (since they were almost the same price), but it looked delicious.
We were tucked upstairs, which is one of the great parts of Workshop Coffee: they have tons of space for parties of all shapes and sizes, both upstairs and downstairs, overlooking Clerkenwell Road and in the back.
It was a quiet weekend morning, much quieter than so many other brunch spots in Central London, and the service was good. It's the kind of place I'd be happy to frequent, since it's well-located, and so tasty!
Another incredible spot in old st! Went for sunday brunch.
Another pretty standard 'industrial chic' spot. Exposed metal piping on the ceilings, lots and lots of wood give it a warm ish feeling. Brick walls. The downstairs felt cooler somehow - more coffee shop ish, while upstairs felt more standard restauranty.
Somehow didn't get a coffee so I have to go back soon for one. We all got bloody mary's. They were particularly strong with a really nice kick. Could have done with mine a bit less spicy though.
All of it was really nice!
Toasted banana bread with date and orange jam, espresso mascarpone and hazelnuts - Loved the banana bread, and the date jam went really well with it. Too much mascarpone and the espresso taste didn't really come through enough. Nonetheless, having really little bits of it with the banana bread was nice. A dish best shared though because it just gets to be a bit much.
Baked eggs - Nothing special as such but really really good.
Corn bread with a poached egg, smoked salmon, grilled asparagus and truffled mascarpone - they seem to love mascarpone here as it features heavily in a number of dishes. Enjoyed this dish as well but I found the corn bread a bit too heavy. Also I think it could have done with another poached egg.
Great food, nice atmosphere and the best part was that there was no wait at all at 1pm on a Sunday.
Ugh. Corn fritters were the worst. I had to confirm with my friend that I actually had food in my mouth while I was eating the fritters, they were so bland. So shamefully bland! Not even salt, pepper and my pathetic resort to ketchup could fix that disaster. These cats have no idea about corn fritters, and should probably steer clear, entirely, of American comfort foods, especially Southern cuisine. The trace bits of halloumi cheese (as seems to be all the rage, as of late, and particularly the "trace" part) were also laughable, and didn't mesh with the dish at all. In other news, the fritters were served at room temperature, as were the flavorless fries that I had ordered as a side. Not impressed. In fact, very disappointed.
In any event, might return to check out the coffee, but fo' sho' won't be dining at Workshop, again.
A lovely little cafe near Farringdon in Clerkenwell, Workshop Coffee serves up a fantastic brunch. I met up a friend one day on Saturday morning around 9:30AM. It was busy, but not overly busy to where I had to wait for a table. My friend decided to go with the FRENCH TOAST BRIOCHE, POACHED RHUBARB, ORANGE MASCARPONE, HAZELNUTS (7.0), which was pretty good. Not the best french toast I've ever had but it did the trick. I went with the GRILLED ASPARAGUS SMOKED SALMON, POACHED EGG, TRUFFLED MASCARPONE, CORN BREAD (10.5). I liked my dish, but I think it could've used a bit more salmon. If you're a fan of black coffee, try their aeropress coffees.... it had bold flavors without the milk.
Although I don't think this was the best brunch place ever, it still was good. The atmosphere is very casual and inviting. The staff is friendly and the service is pretty good. If you're going for brunch during the weekend make sure to get there early if you don't want to wait!
I feel like it's only appropriate for my 2100 review that I review a coffee shop. After all, I'm like the biggest coffee snobbery evar. sort of. and every country I go to, I'm always looking for the best coffee shop, even if that place is generally not known for having coffee at all and I don't know why. I guess it's a "taste of home" for me?
I found this place on Yelp during a rainy, rainy day in London and was happy to have ducked into its warm corridors for cover from the mist turned torrential downpour. I was seated immediately and given a menu. Of course, I ordered a soy latte. Haha I am so predictable!
I didn't know this place also served food, probably should have gotten some since it smelled so good, but I had my heart set on Koya for lunch so I skipped on any snacks. The coffee came, along with a neatly done coffee art, and I was given some water since I "dined in." Honestly it was amazing, the warmth of the coffee, the sweet taste of soy milk and that slight bitter nutty flavor to my coffee. I loved it, I soaked it all up, maybe too quickly.
I love the ambiance, and many people came in as lunch hour rolled around to meet and talk with others, and engage in business or casual speak. Many people were dining alone as well, which I found nice because that was really one of the first places I found people actually dined alone in London!
Given the name is workshop coffee I was expecting good coffee, but found it to be just ok. The brunch menu was actually more satisfying than the coffee. I ordered poached eggs with avocado on toast. Can't go too wrong with that but my friends ordered the banana bread and corn fritters that looked really nice. Overall it was a nice place to catch up with friends as it has a nice setting and the service is good. It's got a nice cafe feel to it where you feel you can relax and take your time to enjoy a nice catchup.
First things noted: cordial staff, inviting bar layout where you could presumably linger without getting eyeballed, and the general cool ambiance that's hard not to find in LDN.
The good: While there are other burgers I've enjoy more, theirs seemed like it was made out of the highest quality ingredients I've experienced in my life so far. Perfect veg, and though the beef seemed like it had only looked at the grill it had a pleasant texture as opposed to the deal-breaking one normally found when medium-rare comes out too rare.
The OK: I'm a massive AeroPress fan so I splurged for the £4.50 one with beans that "hinted apricots". This ongoing trial further proved that fruit flavored beans aren't something I appreciate yet; the coffee experience was just fine.
The bad/ugly: I understand offering something different, but the potatoes/chips that came with the burger were (oh lord... agree to disagree with the chef) like little finger potatoes that had been baked or steamed or fried so lightly that I couldn't tell which, and then trotted out as some runway /NYFW version of chips of which I only ate half. If that doesn't me much to you, consider that I'm normally I'm a platelicker. Oh, and why tease me with a rubbery side pickle that's too green inside when crisp ones are easy to find? I mean really why bother.
The coffee isn't the greatest compared to some of the others (they make the effort but I don't feel the flavours really shine through even in the aeropress), but the music selection is pretty good and the food selection is really rather splendid.
Sadly there is no real signal on the phone inside, so you can't really check your e-mails while you're here so put down that phone and have a conversation instead!
I still haven't been to Workshop Coffee for their famous brunches including my favourite brunch dish, the baked eggs. However as we were in the area and was looking for a coffee shop in Farringdon I suggested Workshop Coffee hearing many good things about their coffee too (hence the name right?).
Sadly first impressions let me down as there was a huge stench of sewage coming from the pipes. They did later on explain that all the pipes were from the Victorian times and regularly have problems which really shows the history of the building. But things did get better from there.
I do love the coffee geekiness to the place surrounding by big metal coffee machinery to small but technical ones against exposed bricks and rustle wooden tables breaking the laboratory feel of the place into something more cool and relaxing.
Staff were very cool too, very serious about their coffee making, moving swiftly across equipments in the centre of the bar where we were sitting yet very friendly and informative. I was really intrigued what an aeropress coffee was not knowing much about coffee and the staff were more than happy to explain, recommend and offer a tasting for two. We ended up ordering the two varieties of aeropress, Finca Tamana from Columbia and Yukro from Ethiopia.
We started with the Finca Tamana which was very rich and fruity, unlike any coffee I had before. Describe as grape like acidity you can really taste the slight acidity with a slight sweetness to it. I found the flavours much interesting than the usual coffee and I consumed it in little sips to taste the different notes I enjoyed this very much. We were told that it could have been done better as by getting the grinding process of the beans to be even more finer the coffee could have been smoother. It was apparently one of the more challenging beans to grind perfectly due to the acidity of the taste where little differences in the size of grinds can make a big difference.
Half way enjoying the first cup of coffee our barista requested to make the aeropress for Yukro again as he felt it was not good enough and asked if we could wait a little longer so he can start again. This is where we knew we were drinking serious coffee here. Of course we allowed him too and the end results were lovely. Yukro was much more smoother in taste, without that acidity and had a long rich taste to it that was much sweeter towards the end. It was a coffee I could enjoy more in quantity and with bigger sips.
I did wish they made the Yukro for us first as the taste wasn't as strong or intense as the Finca. I was worried that the acidity of the first coffee could have masked some of the aromas from the second. Still I enjoyed the tasting for 2 and can see myself alternated between the two coffee in the future depending what coffee mood I'm in.
I always find it hard to find a coffee shop open past 8pm especially when I'm always out with my boyfriend till late and just fancy a good hot beverage after dinner. So for those late coffee drinkers or hot chocolate ones , you'll be happy to know that Workshop Coffee closed at 10pm every Tuesday- Friday. I also love how the staff here are so eager to engage and laid back, passionate in the field their working for. It's great how you are able to sit in the bar and talk to them and watch their focused concentration whilst making each cup of coffee. The place feel more personalised. I just hope they manage to fix the pipes permanently as the smell of coffee and sewage really does not go well.
St. ALi is an excellent addition to EC1. The space is gorgeous, the staff is congenial, the toast is tasty and I love their tea presentation (see photo.)
Now I should first say this: toast is about the last thing I'm liable to order, anywhere. But with a pilates class looming ahead, and my stomach empty since dinner the previous evening, it called out to me especially since one of the accompaniments available was peanut butter. I was thoroughly impressed when my toast arrived - three thick slices of different types of bread. If all toast were like St. ALi's people would probably be a lot more excited to gobble it up!
I tackled my toast at a communal table near the window. I forsee spending a lot of time in that spot, especially since St. ALi is open on Sundays when lots of the other nearby coffee houses and cafes are closed.
Welcome to Clerkenwell, St. ALi!
'I love coffee, I love tea, I love the Java Jive and it loves me...' Yup that is how I feel about this place. From the moment I walked through the big black doors I knew we'd be life long friends.
ST. Ali is an Aussie brand and the chap who served me was literally 'fresh off the boat' from Melbourne when they have a few of these shops. I walked up to the counter and was taken aback by the tardis style of the venue. No, there was no Doctor Who sat on the counter, it's just a big place. Not at all what I expected from the outside.
There was an array of snacks on the left and the roastery area at the back. Yup, you heard it folks there is a new kid on the block, and they've got plenty of beans! So the lovely chap made up my cup of filter (yes folks, you heard it right! FILTER) coffee with care, love and attention. He even put up with me following him around the counter asking him questions about the place and himself. There was a scientific procedure in the concoction of this beautiful brew, with tasting and pouring and measuring going on.
So now down to the cup of Joe itself, it was lovely. Not quite Tom Toms coffee blend but good and drinkable. I will be back.
Oh St. Ali... I mean "Workshop Coffee", ahem.
So apparently there was some trouble going down with the "original" St. Ali in Melbourne, from which perhaps this London outlet was styling itself around... Down with the 1920s light bulb sign. Re-engraving of the benches out front? Ok so I've just about got over the name change now, (green wall still in tact out the back, luckily that wasn't "branded") BUT this is still the best coffee house in Clerkenwell, which maybe means all of London. Or England in fact. Who's to say they won't win the world barista championship - they do have one of the only TWO espresso machines of its kind in the world (the other being in LA, home of the former world barista champion...) Ok coffee geekdom over. But the coffee rocks, seriously.
Come fore early morning breakfast, weekend brunch, workday lunch, afternoon tea (or coffee...) and now dinner or late night treats too. Is this not the perfect institution? This review is just turning into an unashamedly, schmaltzy love serenade. I haven't even mentioned the attractive, laid back staff yet either...
If you thought the coffee was good, the food is just stellar. Everything from the breakfast muffins and pastries, to brunch items and dinner plates, is absolutely delicious I have never been let down.
I'm not the patriotic type, but this place makes me proud to be an Aussie.
"St. Ali is short for Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili...otherwise known as the patron saint of coffee." This quote is taken from the website of this new hipster mecca in the heart of Clerkenwell.
And yes, they do take their coffee VERY seriously: I got there this morning and what I thought would be a simple order of "I'd like to have a filter coffee" turned into a lesson into "how to make proper coffee". In fact, I almost feel that their desire to make the perfect cup of joe borders on caffeine-alchemy...they're using high-tech scales to weigh the right amount of coffee grounds...they make a well once the grounds are poured into the filter... they then slowly pour the hot water (which of course has the perfect temperature as well) in to the well...they swish the muddy water around...and they then set the timer...
And...what was the result!? - In fact, the coffee did taste very nice...very smooth and it didn't make me cringe like it sometimes happens when you buy coffee from certain chain stores...However, watching this whole ordeal I was a little bit worried about this not being a very efficient way of making coffee (it's the German in me!). Plus, a filter coffee made this way does cost £3 and this is probably not what I am willing to spend every morning....but it certainly is a nice treat.
The location all in all is quite the experience as well: there's a coffee roaster right behind the bar and the sacks of coffee beans pile up around it. I also very much like the "hanging garden of St. Ali" - a wall that features luscious green plants (I wonder if their oxygen-output will absorb some of the coffee odours that usually come along with having a roastery inside a café.
All in all, I enjoyed my visit quite a bit...however, I am still a person who likes to eyeball things and who avoids making a science out of everyday tasks...and their coffee-making endeavor is seriously pushing my envelope here!
Since I've practically been back every day since my initial review, it's only fair to update as the fine folk at St Ali continually amaze me with their incredible breakfast, lunch, bean, leaf and grain offerings.
Apple muesli muffins, eggs on gluten-free toast, porridge with apricots and vanilla bourbon yogurt, tropical fruits with homemade granola and minted yogurt, and that incredible V60 pour over.
And I must say, now that I've gotten to know some of the staff and clientele, (um, because I'm. always. there.) this entire establishment is just fantastic. If that's not 5-star worthy, I just don't know what is.
I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to go to St. Ali since I heard about it. What was I waiting for? I was waiting for my awesome group of girls to head there with me. Trying to set a date is not easy with one who travels extensively for work and the others busy with plans and holidays. We finally stick our heads in and decided on a date.
St. Ali is not the easiest place to get to but on that fateful morning, the sun was smiling with its sunny rays as I made my way there. I was greeted with the warmness of the wood décor and the big island right in the centre where pastries are arranged on one side waiting enticingly to be eaten.
I found my friends and we started checking out the menu while catching up. I have to say it was negotiation time as we were deciding on what we fancies and ensuring that we have as many variety to try as possible. There were so many in the menu that I wanted to try that it was quite tough to decide.
In the end, decisions were made and we placed out orders. Of course we had to order some coffee at St. Ali and chilled coffee and cappuccinos were ordered. They were good.
Our food started arriving and we started to tuck in.
Dutch oven house braised beans on sourdough toast, salted ricotta lemon mint and a poached egg £6.75
LB ordered this as I only got a taste but it was given the thumbs up and very filling indeed.
Mexican cousin £9.25
The Mexican Cousin includes corn fritters, baby spinach, haloumi cheese that has been grilled with a poached egg. I love corn fritters, at least the type that I eat in Sydney. Light and crunchy with the taste of corn still prominently shining. This version from St. Ali is called Mexican Cousin for a reason. It was unctuous, heavy and starchy which wasn't to my liking.
The Usual Suspects £4.50 (+ mushrooms £2.5 + chorizo £3.5)
Ahh, what can the usual suspects be? It was eggs cooked to your liking for which I got scrambled eggs which comes with sourdough toast and tomato kasundi. I added in mushrooms and chorizo too.
This is everything you want from a breakfast/brunch. Light creamy fluffy eggs, the toast were perfect and the tomato kasundi was just so tasty. Mushrooms and chorizo were cooked well and I happily tucked in.
Banana Bread £4.75
The absolute star was the Banana bread. Sydneysiders are crazy about their banana breads and I missed ordering that for breakfast in the morning. It was best toasted with that thin layer of sugar which caramelises. Sweet and rich, I love it. The banana bread here was light which is different to the usual heavy rich banana bread that is made with overripe bananas. The banana in this was most likely slightly under-ripe or only just ripe to give the lightness. A spread of date and orange jam on the banana bread, which had the texture of chutney and was sweet and savoury at the same time. Topped with a dollop of espresso mascarpone and sesame seeds brittle.
The whole things works and it was like heaven in my mouth. The lightness of the bread, the slight hint of espresso in the mascarpone that just melts in your mouth. Add a swipe of the jam and it was another explosion of different flavours and textures that just combines so beautifully. I was dreaming about this for days after.
I dreamt about it so much that I couldn't help heading there again even though I would only have a quick one hour before I had to head off. Filtered coffee was ordered this time which I tried and it was good.
The Banana bread was ordered which brought me to cloud nine again. Ordered the Usual Suspects but with grilled kippers this time. I was slightly apprehensive when I saw the abundance of bones sticking out but actually, it was soft enough to crunch through and eat.
We also ordered the Pink Firs after being recommended it. We were wondering what in the world are Pink Firs. It turned out to be potatoes! Potato lovers would love this. I am not a potato fan so this was OK for me. The chipotle mayonnaise was good though.
I left satisfied and full with a smile on my face once again.
Amazing burgers, amazing breakfast.
Quirky and cute, this sits perfectly within the Clerkenwell vibe, and is one of the best places to have a casual meeting.
I always have the scrambled eggs with a side of chorizo for breakfast. Yum.
The burger is also (possibly, on a par with Byron) the best I've ever had.
Coffee is so-so (sorry guys!). There are so many great coffee places in the area that it's hard to differentiate. But the food, man, the food is something else.
I write this review as I sit at a table in St Alis. Yes that's right folks, you're getting a review straight as it is happening.
This place is a buzz. It's 1012 in the morning and it's already packed. Folks are of every variety here. Hipster bikers, families, this German couple beside me. There is an air of freshness to this place. Some indie coffee places seem a little staid now that I've been to quite a few but this feels different. It seems a lot more spacious than most others especially from the unassuming entrance off Clerkenwell. I love that you can see the coffee roaster in the back of the place, really makes a statement.
Ahh. My coffee is here. Now we tell if this place is serious. After all I biked from West London to get here. Pleasant. Not bitter, not too strong. Just pleasant. Maybe I should ask what kind of roast they use. I tend to like more earthy flavors in my coffee. So while I'm not 100% impressed, I'm not disappointed either. The staff seem friendly enough, but seem a little self consumed. Maybe it's just because it's busy.
Ok, on second thought and a little more reflection, the coffee is only so-so. Had better at both Tapped and Packed and at Kaffeine, not to mention Monmouth Coffee and also at Foxcroft and Ginger. Anyway, I've ordered the Vive le Pain (French toast and bacon) - hey, I biked 4 miles to get here, I might as well make it worth it. ... ... ... nom nom nom.... ... ... chit chat ... ... Ok. So the food's good. The coffee's good, but not awesome. 4 ****s. Definitely a place I'd go to if I was in the area. Would I cycle 4 miles to St Ali's just for the coffee and food if I wasn't already meeting a friend here? Prolly not. But overall, a GREAT little place, with very neat decor (As Uli says - the garden wall of St Ali is really cool). Friendly staff (ok, I chatted with the head barista there and he was talking about the blend). And a very diverse crowd. Good job.
Went to St. Ali's for brunch on Saturday and am consistently pleased with all the great restaurants in Clerkenwell, even on the weekends. St Ali's is exactly my kind of place (so New York - gotta love it!) Beside the food which I will get to in a sec, the atmosphere is just so urban rustic chic. There is a 'live' wall that spans the two floors of the restaurant, sort of like an inner courtyard, and the brick and wood walls are perfectly understated, hip design. I'd recommend getting a table downstairs as it is brighter and more lively, but you can't make reservations in advance so you may just need to wait it out.
They are know as a café, but I would definitely rate this place as a great restaurant. The service is a tad slow (10 min for my iced latte) but everything is worth it, even just to see the baby milk jug that they serve it in. My bloody mary was not spicy like it should be, but my friends' were, so there is also a bit of an inconsistence problem. Food wise though, The World is You Oyster was fantastic! Poached eggs on sourdough toast with smoked salmon, truffled mascarpone and asparagus, YUMMMM, I could east that everyday. The My Mexican Cousin was also great, though the corn fritters were too fried for my taste, it was a unique and flavorful option. All around the salads and egg dishes looked bomb, and did al the pastries which we didn't try after eating the World.
Will definitely hit up St. Ali's next time I'm around, and hopefully by then the service will be a bit more on point, just like the kitchen.
I came to St. Ali on a recommendation from my barista at Prufrock Coffee and was not disappointed.
Fantastic breakfast and brunch options, amazing pastries, and seriously excellent coffee in espresso or single-cup pourover/aeropress varieties served in a cool, funky venue that looks straight out of Brooklyn.
Seriously, people: As mentioned in most of the reviews for St. Ali, the quality of the coffee cannot be exaggerated, especially the filter coffee pourovers. It rivals the best cups I've had in NYC and San Francisco -- and was a very welcome and happy reprieve from Nescafe and watery Americanos.
This place is legit.
Too legit, in fact, to quit.
To all you other coffee-shop-cum-cafes: you can't touch this.
I am literally 2 years behind the times. Despite living relatively close by and cycling past Workshop (formerly St Ali) en route to work I have never thought to call in here. Only after multiple recommendations did I venture in today to escape from the rain and get some brunch.
Everyone else clearly already knew about this place as both upstairs and downstairs was pretty full by 10.30am but we were shown to a nice table for 2 in the upstairs area. I think we got here in the nick of time because by 11.15am people were queueing for a table.
Upstairs is where the open kitchen is. On the plus side this means that you can see what is going on in there. However it also means that some cooking smells can waft into the seating area. We arrived to the unmistakable odour of kipper. However, the benefit of seeing the kitchen in action soon outweighed this slight negative point. The room itself is very attractive with the wooden tables and textured skull & cross bone wallpaper being easy on the eye. A happy buzz of conversation filled the air.
Service was relaxed and characterised by the carafe of chilled water that was brought to our table as we sat down. It was a nice touch which more restaurants should adopt. We ordered bircher muesli and toasted banana bread to accompany coffee and orange juice.
The coffee has had pretty mixed reviews. This seems surprising as the beans are all roasted on site. However, we too found it to be slightly bitter. This is likely to be a problem with the roasting I think. Given the quality of coffee which London's roasters produce, I do wonder whether roasting your own is actually a strategy which benefits the consumer.
The Bircher muesli was delightfully fresh and served with a dollop of labna (a kind of yoghurt cheese) and a few raspberries. It was just what I needed at the start of the day - both refreshing and nourishing. My companion did not enjoy the toasted banana bread as much, feeling it was just a bit too sweet. However when I tried a bite, I loved the combination of the banana bread with date & orange jam and espresso mascapone which was served with it. However, I only had a few bites and I wonder whether it might get a bit cloying after a while?
Overall a positive experience. I look forward to trying the other menu options over the coming months.
As you may already know, I don't drink coffee. So when I visit a coffee place, the black stuff is not what I look for, it's the rest.
St Ali had a bit of a queue at 12pm on a Sunday afternoon but it only took 20 mins or so to get a seat at the bar (no leg space though which was a bit awkward, consider waiting for a proper table next time), although this sopt did allow us to observe the constant coffee machine conveyor belt.
The food was delicious, thoroughly recommended for a light-ish weekend brunch without breaking the bank. I had the steak sandwich with a side of heavenly ratte potatoes. My partner has a roast salmon sandwich. Everything was very good.
The decor was attractive, as were most of the staff.
I will be back.
Just a note on the evolution of this place: When I came here last fall, it had a very laid back, coffee house + food kind of feel, and while it was busy and buzzy, it was still pretty comfortable to sit there with work. When I went in today, to meet a friend to study, I was greeted at the door with a "do you have a reservation". Good for them! But as it was a Tuesday afternoon, I wouldn't recommend seeking St. Ali out for studying or much working except in the off-hours.
That being said, what it is today is still pretty cool and I'll recommended it highly because the food is super delicious and inventive (in a perfect world, you get savory entrees and then an order of the banana bread to share) and the coffee is outstanding. Even though I didn't have a reservation, the super friendly staff tried to find me a place to sit before I decided to just grab a coffee to-go and study elsewhere. That take-away cappuccino was divine, you can taste the love. Coffees are £2.30ish. Small plates are £4-7ish and entrees are in the £9-13 range.
And they've expanded their hours, recently, too.
Oh, and while I usually pay not attention to kids or how they're treated in a restaurant, I sat next a family last time and the server was really great with them, even though this place doesn't seem like a place you'd bring kids. Truly friendly staff.
Been here a few times and I keep coming back for their great brunch! Always known it as St. Ali for some reason.
Love their halloumi with pouch eggs and corn fritters! their corn fritters are HUGE! not to mention, i would always add kipper on the side, the fish comes in big and grilled the right way! The sour dough lunch set is also great since you can add on your own sides (e.g. salmon, pouch eggs, mushrooms!!!!!! mmm so yummy, halloumi, spinach, kipper.. etc)
nice chill staffs, cool people and delicious food! also a nice laid back vibe topped with wooden tables.
Oh, their mouthwatering pastries (which are the first things you see when you enter the restaurant, tempting, i know) and coffee are both bravo!
This place is lovely. So lovely in fact, that there's a huge queue all the time and you can't reserve a table or be seated until everyone in your party arrives.
But it's worth the queue and that's from someone who really dislikes queuing for anything!
Lovely food, lovely coffee (ok not the best I've had in London but easily up there with them) and lovely staff all wrapped up in lovely surroundings :)
Please don't visit though. The queue is bad enough without more Yelpers wanting a piece of the action, and I want this place all to myself!
A discreet entrance on a busy road leads to a cool space, pared back to raw walls and fixtures yet warm and friendly. Friendly and attentive staff. Immediately greeted on arrival and shown upstairs for our table of four around lunchtime.
I've been meaning to visit for a while so ordered the burger recommended by other Yelp reviewers. It was just as great as others proclaimed and the fried potatoes, pickles and chipotle mayonnaise served alongside were perfect.
My dining partners thought their dishes were delicious too (pulled pork tacos, soup, eggs on sourbread toast)...
Mains were the highlight rather than deserts which are probably intended more as accompaniments to coffee (my ginger cake/ pudding was a little dry and would have benefited from some simple custard or cream rather than the dollop of creme fraiche on the side) same for the toasted banana bread but that may be my love of English style puds vs Australian, perhaps.
Coffee was very good but not quite hot enough and service was great.
An excellent releaxed coffee / snacking / lunch spot which has all the right components. I like the style and simple, confident, well executed dishes. Look forward to returning.
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