|Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell EC1|
Workshop Coffee may look familiar. In its previous life, this Clerkenwell Road cafe was St Ali, the London outpost of a much-loved Melbourne coffee house. But the Brit upstart has broken free of the Aussie mothership with a name-change, a new evening menu and noticeably shorter benches outside (they've sawn off the carved 'St Ali's).
I reviewed it on Pinch of Salt in its previous incarnation, when the place had just opened and menu had a few teething problems. It's since become one of my regular hangouts, so as I've now sampled what Workshop has to offer for all three daily meals, plus brunch and a liberal smattering of coffee and cakes, I thought it was nigh time for another review. Any excuse for one of their soy macchiatos and a buttery passionfruit friand...
The interior remains unchanged from the cafe's brief year as 'St Ali'. The living plant wall, hulking great coffee roaster, the exposed-brick walls et al are still in situ. But the lunch and dinner menus are now as much of a focus for Workshop's Tim Williams as coffee and brunch. On a recent lunch visit, the two-storey cafe was busy and buzzy.
Baked eggs came topped with a thick crust of just-browned Feta. Hidden underneath was a pool of rich saffron and tomato ragu and rounds of chorizo. Perfect rainy day comfort food, although I would've preferred a slightly runnier yolk.
|Chermoula lamb cutlets, Workshop Coffee|
Tori's chermoula lamb cutlets were tender and juicy with a delicious crust, but there wasn't much meat after cutting through the thick, wobbly seam of fat. They were served on top of a wonderful broth-y pile of braised white beans and chorizo, the lemon and parsley of the chermoula providing a zesty counterpoint to the rich lamb and pig.
Workshop is now open in the evenings too, and I was recently invited to check out the dinner menu by the PR. I leapt at the chance to lock my jaw around Workshop's cult Dexter burger, which took months of burger tastings to perfect...
|Workshop Coffee Dexter burger|
|Smoked haddock fishcakes|
Similarly praise-worthy is the fishcake. Isn't a beauty? A cricket ball of smoked haddock enlivened with ginger and lemongrass and topped with a silky poached egg. I love the presentation with the rich tomato sauce spooling down the sides, and the seasonal leaves piled on top.
What else is good here? Well the baristas know their stuff, and that gleaming beast of a coffee roaster is something to behold, lit by the skylight above. The racks of tempting bakes on the counter are, as the slogan from the old Cadbury's Fudge ads has it: 'just enough to give a kid a treat' - little brownies, airy friands, savoury muffins. It was quiet when we visited for dinner and the room needed that daytime buzz but I'm sure the siren call of the Dexter burger means Workshop will soon be packed by night as well as day.
Workshop Coffee, 27 Clerkenwell Road London EC1M 5RN