An Exmouth Market institution, Brill Café is the kind of homely, charming and assuredly indie café we’d write a song about were we in the songwriting business. Run by Jeremy Brill, who famously cycles to Brick Lane to get their bagels every morning, this place revolves around a particular holy trinity: music, bagels and coffee - which all, in their own way, bring a pure dose of pleasure. The bagels are lightly toasted marvels, packed full of salmon, ham or cheese; their own-brew Coffee Officina blend tastes terrifically creamy with milk; and you can expect soulful, jazzy numbers all day long on vinyl which can also be bought along with a host of CDs. What makes this place stand out, though, is the sense of heartfelt bohemian community - plus a magical sun-trap garden that most of Exmouth doesn’t know about.
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Moka East @ The View Tube
There’s no way you’ll miss this bright, lime green structure on the Olympic Park’s horizon. Moka East is the cafe at View Tube, owned by the charming and eccentric David Illari, and yes, the views are absolutely worth writing home about. There’s a wonderful garden out back, ideal for sun-soaking, while bikes are available for hire out front if that’s up your street. Drop by for tasty coffee and locally sourced, freshly prepared breakfasts and brunches. We hear the organic salt beef bagel is a right treat, while you can also expect the likes of Spanish tortilla (£6.50) and chilli con (£7) to feature on the brunch-heavy menu. Don’t forget the pastries, cakes and beers - all under the corrugated roof of a building the colour of Dipsy from the Teletubbies.
Saucer & Cup
It ain't easy to have a cafe run by perfectionists, and still have the place feel proper chilled, but Saucer & Cup nails it. When we've been in the coffee has always been perfect, and there's always an updated selection of Mediterranean goodies on display: fresh focaccia, light salads, and a whole load of gluten-free cakes. Their choice of loose leaf teas sets them apart too. When the weather's half decent outside, the place becomes an idyllic sun trap...prime 'resting your eyes' territory.
Ask for Janice
Who the hell is Janice? Who cares, because she's put together a fiiiine little cafe/bar combo. It's an all day affair here, with breakfast/brunch made extra special by their Speldhurst sausage and fried onion sandwich, matched up with a Breakfast Martini. If you're a sucker for some gin and sin, you've come to the right place because their list seemingly never ends. They also do 1/3 pint flights for their craft beers, so you can sample a few for only a fiver. The interior of exposed filament lightbulbs and reclaimed furniture is a bit, well, identical to so many other places (meh), but the food and vibe here more than makes up for it.
The question on everyone's (our) lips is: how does Notes manage to be such a quality little coffee haven when it's right beside Trafalgar Square? Yeah, it gets busy, but never rammed, and there's a distinct lack of teenage Italian tourist swarms. The coffee is definitely on point, but the doughnuts are the star here. Seriously, get one. The big table under the skylight is prime real estate to veg out at, and order a glass of wine here (they've got a good selection). Notes, don't go changin' now.