It’s Monday, and I’m working from my favorite neighborhood coffee shop. While in London, I’m living in Finsbury Park, which luckily for me has some great cafes, a wonderful Roman restaurant (coming to the blog soon), and a nice park for running and reading.
I’ve been trying to work from home and save money by making my own coffee (always using my Moka Pot), but it’s so easy to get distracted in your own apartment, and sometimes I crave the company of strangers and clinking coffee cups. On those days, I head to Exeter Street Bakery, where the coffee is strong, the bread is fresh, and buzz just noisy enough to keep me focused.
Founded by Italian restaurateur Richard Polo, the bakery started as a bread shop. Polo spent years perfecting his recipe for authentic, handmade Italian bread, and it’s still the main staple of the cafe. In 2012, James, Jon, and Mike (don’t know their last names!) took over, keeping the bread and pizza and adding a cool cafe vibe and amazing coffee.
For me, the cafe is a comforting mix of Rome and Chicago. It’s cozy, everyone is speaking Italian, the espresso machine hums, cannoli and cornetti tempt you near the till, the smell of bread permeates the room, and the large pizza oven takes up half the space behind the bar. But it’s also very modern, with purple walls and brightly colored stools, long wooden tables, a menu written on a chalkboard wall, and indie music flowing from the speakers. It’s classic and modern and perfect for getting lost in work in the morning, or sipping an aperol spritz in the afternoon.
For breakfast, which is what I usually have here, the avocado toast is fantastic. The avocado is heaped on (you’ll never feel ripped off) and drizzled with balsamic. I usually ask for half an order of avocado toast and half an order of poached egg toast, and I recommend you do the same.
Of course, the pastries are delicious as well, and some mornings I nibble on a traditional Italian sweet, or the more modern vegan banana bread.
In the afternoons or evenings you can order pizzas, which are again both classic and modern. Opt for a simple margherita on homemade crust, or go for one of the more unique combinations, like squash and gorgonzola. There’s also a selection of sandwiches and soups.
Classic Italian cocktails grace the menu, as does a large selection of craft beers and a more modest wine list. But of course, I’m usually here for the coffee.
“Coffee is really important to us,” reads a line on the chalkboard menu. It’s really important to me too. They use Allpress espresso, bought from small estates and roasted daily in East London. And they whip up drinks with Italian ease. (When I use an espresso machine it never looks quite as graceful). Whether you’re grabbing a coffee to go or settling in for awhile, you’ll be impressed by the strength and flavor in your cup.
And don’t forget to stock up on fresh bread on your way out!
Exeter Street Bakery
The Arts Building