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Restaurant Review: J&A Cafe in Clerkenwell

J&A Cafe poses a large problem for me. When I wake up on a Saturday morning and turn left to walk off for brunch I used to uneringly aim for The Modern Pantry as it is refined fusion excellence (review here). However, J&A Cafe is 100m closer and great in a plainer way.

J&A is hidden just off Farringdon Road. It is everything I like about living in the City of London (emphasis on City). A small back alley which you can dink down and discover something unique and hidden. The place itself is the kind of space which makes you think “that would make a beautiful flat” and has great open industrial windows wrapped around the dinning room. It is also obviously independent which is especially nice in the franchise sodden world of central London eating.

I first went here last month and had an excellent fried breakfast. It came with proper sausages, proper bacon, Tiptree tomato ketchup and poached eggs of sublime runniness. I am not actually sure whether you can call J&A’s offering a fried breakfast as fried breakfasts are more about reconstituted offcuts of “pork” in an off coloured tube and some half assed eggs. This was far far better. Jen’s pancakes were not quite what she expected. She was hoping for an Americana fiesta of big stodgy pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup. These were more of the French variety and whilst not quite there for an American pancake devotee still very good.

I’ve been back there since that breakfast and really enjoyed every visit. The second time I went I had a Club Sandwhich which whilst good and was obviously the subject of much effort didn’t quite fit together properly. Still, there is something quite special about the atmosphere in the J&A Cafe which I really appreciate and overcomes the occassional miss on the food. Being tucked away in a part of London that has been there for 1000s of years feels just right (even though the building that it is in is definitely not of the medieval vintage).

I’ll keep coming back here and I will look forward to each visit.

Price – £10ish a head

J&A Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Mr Noodles

    Breakfast looks good but one question – do they have black pudding on the menu ? Being an exiled Northerner, it rankles with me that you can't always get decent black pud down south.

  2. Lizzie

    I've been trying to go out for brunch more often as it's a meal I really do love. Those pancakes look great, I still haven't tried them with maple syrup and bacon.

  3. Tom

    Mr Noodles – ah hah I don't think so. You would have to go to Regency Cafe (or any other ropey cafe around town). I should have ordered it when I went there as I am always partial to a bit of black pudding with my fry up. And some fried bread which I haven't had for a while.

    Lizzie – I think you'll really like J&A, it just has a nice vibe about it.

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