Visit London Blog » cafe Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Charity Cafes in London Tue, 04 Feb 2014 09:00:18 +0000 Cafe Eterno, near Covent Garden

If you’re looking for an alternative to London’s chain coffee shops, make a beeline for one of these feel-good cafes.

Your delicious coffee or homemade lunch could help a person with disabilities into work, a young person away from a life of crime, or get a homeless person off the streets.

Unity Kitchen at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkUnity Kitchen Cafe at the Olympic Park

Unity Kitchen is a fantastic social enterprise, which trains people with disabilities to become baristas, chefs and catering assistants. The bright and airy Timber Lodge café in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of five Unity Kitchen cafes in London. Pop in to enjoy fresh, seasonal food, including sandwiches, hot-pot dishes and sweet treats. And if you’re visiting with children, don’t forget to check out the fun Tumbling Bay children’s playground next door.

Crisis Skylight Cafe LondonSkylight Café

Part café, part social enterprise, part art space, Crisis’s Skylight Café in East London gives homeless people and ex-offenders training in the service industry – and a route into permanent employment. Currently, the housing charity is helping two trainees into work every month – as well as serving up delicious homemade soups, salads and daily specials prepared in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Living Water Satisfies

As well as being a lively café and social hub, Living Water Satisfies in Crystal Palace is a social enterprise, helping women to overcome domestic violence through counselling and supportive workshops. The café itself is both spacious and cosy, with comfy chairs, large windows and regular activities for children and adults. The menu has something for everyone too, with everything from a classic Full English Breakfast to Caribbean curries.

Inside Cafe Eterno

London City Mission’s Cafe Eterno

Tucked away on Neal Street in Covent Garden, Café Eterno is a friendly café offering an extensive menu and a warm welcome. Run by Christian ministry the London City Mission, the café is run on a non-profit basis, with proceeds going to fund the important work of the mission in local communities, hospitals and on the streets of the capital.

Café of Good Hope

Café of Good Hope is a jolly community café in Hither Green, South East London. It’s run by the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, which was set up in memory of London teenager Jimmy Mizen by his friends and family to promote peace and positivity in young people’s lives. A sister café, Sammy Ts, has also recently opened in nearby Mountsfield Park.

New Horizons CafeNew Horizons Cafe

Chelsea-based New Horizons Café is one of several community hubs managed by The Camden Society. Run in partnership with Open Age, the café is located within the New Horizons Activity Centre for people over 50 and offers training and support for people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and people with learning disabilities. The menu includes everything from healthy breakfasts to lunches, afternoon tea and Continental, British and Asian specialties.

The Hornbeam Café

Vegetarian food made using local, organic and fair-trade ingredients (where possible) is on the menu at The Hornbeam Café in Walthamstow, East London. The cafe also hosts a Saturday market stall, a veg-box scheme and a knitting, sewing and crafts group. Run on a non-profit basis, the cafe aims to encourage local residents to live more sustainably – such as through its bread-baking collective – and also provides a space for local groups to meet.

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Sri Lanka in London: Ceylon Tea at Lanka Cake Shop in Primrose Hill Tue, 11 Jan 2011 16:30:18 +0000

When we started looking to Sri Lanka for our World in London series, we came across Lanka Cake Shop and Tea Salon. This popular café and shop keeps the thirsty residents of Primrose Hill happy with a range of teas from Sri Lanka.

Lanka is partnered with the Euphorium Tea Salon in Colombo, Sri Lanka and serves up specialty infusions that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK.

These pure Ceylon teas are characterised by their delicate colour and rich flavour and are served at selected tea salons and shops in Sri Lanka. You can enjoy a pot of tea in the Lanka café or pick up loose leaf or silken tea bag varieties to try at home.

You can even sample the teas in cake form such as the shop’s Earl Grey tea flavoured crème brulee.

Let us know where else you can find a Sri Lankan experience in London.

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New Zealand in London: Independent Cafés Tue, 19 Oct 2010 12:00:50 +0000

I don’t think the primary export that comes to mind when thinking of New Zealand in London is cafés, coffee and baristas. But that is what you’ll find when entering one of a new breed of independent cafés populating London these days.

Café culture has been strong in NZ for a long time. We like nothing better than relaxing alone and watching the world go by, or chatting with friends with a flat white or long black in hand. These are served with a healthy dose of love, maybe a bit of quirk, and, dependent on the time of day, eggs on toast, a savoury muffin (we do love a good savoury muffin) or a sweet treat.

Many cafés roast their own beans with strong rivalries between your local favourites. For me, it was always Café L’affare, but that’s an aside. In London, I’m lucky enough to be near Nude Espresso on Hanbury (who roast nearby in the Truman Brewery, I think) run by a guy I recognise on sight from Wellington but can’t quite place. If we spoke long enough we’d sort it out, as is often the way with Kiwis abroad.

NZ barista’s can also be found in many of the best cafés and coffee houses in London. Our twang could serve you in Monmouth; the excellent (but Aussie) Milk Bar, Flat White, and Lantana; or the “Sacred Café line” – six locations including Stanford’s bookshop and Carnaby Street.

I’d love to know more NZ links in London’s coffeehouses: hook me up!

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Free Bacon Rolls This Thursday at Polo Bar, Liverpool Street Wed, 01 Sep 2010 15:27:25 +0000

This morning on my way to VL Towers, I popped in to Polo Bar opposite Liverpool Street Station.

I’d never been in before but was fascinated to discover this place is a London institution! Open 24 hours a day, it’s a real London caff run by Italian immigrants and their first and second generation families.

Over coffee and a delicious bacon buttie I chatted to the charming Philip who used to work night shifts in Polo and shared some lively tales. One involving a stolen salami and a very contrite, very hungover customer the next morning seemed to perfectly sum up the wild yet life-affirming experience of working behind the counter in a 24-hour cafe.

Philip now works closely with Stefano Ispani, CEO of Ponti Group, which owns Polo Bar (plus numerous other Ponti’s Italian eateries around town).  His late father, Peter Ispani, ran Polo Bar back in the day, and it retains the feel of a family business. To honour its heritage, there’s been a full refurb that takes Polo back to its 1950s roots – funky green railway tiles, rock’n’roll memorabilia and comfortable but stylish mid-century style furniture.

To celebrate the re-opening, you can get one of Polo’s tasty bacon rolls FREE for 24 hours from 7.30am tomorrow morning (Thursday 2 Sep). Say hi if you spot me in the queue!

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Visit London Asks: What’s Your Favourite Restaurant in London? Mon, 12 Oct 2009 09:22:05 +0000 Oysters and wine

In honour of this week’s ongoing London Restaurant Festival, we want to know:

What’s your favourite restaurant in London?

London really does have a fantastic range of different places to eat out. You can sample pretty much every style and variety of cuisine in the world in the city: here are 43 to whet your appetite, but we’re sure there are more!

There are cheap and cheerful cafes and budget restaurants perfect for grabbing a quick bite alongside really posh places where you can splurge on a special occasion… and everything in between!

But is there something that stands out for you? Let us know!

You can also vote for your favourite London Restaurant Festival Menu on toptable today: Have your say…

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Visiting London: Chris Dexter Wed, 24 Jun 2009 11:32:24 +0000 Chris Dexter

Chris Dexter

How old are you, Chris?
I’m 29.

And where are you from?
I’m visiting London from Manchester.

How long are you staying in London?
I’m here for the weekend. I’m staying with friends in Wandsworth Town.

What have you been up to?
I’ve taken a wander down Northcote Road in the sunshine, which was lovely. My friends and I ate lunch sitting outside a cute café called Al Gusto (great paninis) and watched the world go by. There was an Italian market on Northcote Road on Saturday. We didn’t buy anything, but the waffles looked amazing. The pubs and bars in the area were all really busy with people watching the rugby. Luckily, a place called Babel doesn’t have big screens (and so was emptier), so we were able to have a quiet glass of wine in there.

And where did you go on Saturday night?
I went to a party with some friends I met while I was travelling a couple of years ago. The party was at a pub in Dalston called The Haggerston. I found it eventually, after taking a wrong turn out of the station. It was a cool place for a party, although it was absolutely rammed. Lots of people in there had very big hair. And very skinny jeans, with turn-ups. Particularly the boys.

What’s different about life in London and life in Manchester?
In London, things are a very long way away from each other. If you want to see someone for a cup of tea after work in Manchester, it’s no problem. In London, it takes 40 minutes to get anywhere. If I drove for 40 minutes from my work in Manchester, I’d be in Leeds! And I’d expect more than a cup of tea for my travels.

What surprised you during this visit to London?
Lots of blokes have moustaches in London. It makes them look very 80s; I’m not sure I like it. That’s a trend that hasn’t reached Manchester. Yet.

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