There seems to have been an Aussie/NZ invasion in the London food scene of late: a slew of laid-back eateries popping up with a focus on fusion food made for sharing, great ingredients, and good coffee. Of course I’m totally in favour of this because it’s produced some brilliant new cafes and restaurants – Caravan and The Providores to name just two that I’ve sampled the delights of recently.
One of the latest is St Ali on Clerkenwell Road, sister cafe to the original one way over in Melbourne. It’s got the decor that seems to have become the standard for this kind of place – lots of wood, tick, caged industrial lighting, tick, exposed brickwork, tick… but still nicely done and well laid out, with the bonus of a huge coffee roaster out back – always a good sign.
Considering I didn’t think anyone actually lived in Clerkenwell, the place was packed and we had a short wait for a table – a good indicator of the buzz this place has generated. The coffee was indeed excellent, smooth and rich with proper fine cane sugar to stir in. The food menu is large and brunchy, a mix of salads, breakfast dishes and sandwiches, with tempting little cakes and pastries alluringly displayed on the counter.
Unfortunately the amazing-sounding Mexican corn fritters were sold out, so I went for spicy beans with poached egg, ricotta and sourdough – a big hearty plate of good flavours, though it could have done quite happily without the greenery – the addition of mint especially jarred with the spicy tomatoes. Managed to squeeze in a little ginger and vanilla friand afterwards to wash down the last of my coffee, which was delicious and well priced at jut £1.
St Ali is currently open every day from 7am to 6pm, though soon they’ll be open for dinner too with a good selection of beers to sup – I’ll be back for sure.
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