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fisherman

Where's your favourite cafe?

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I'm doing some research for a TV show I'm working on, and one thing we're interested in shooting a piece about is peoples favourite cafes, ones serving good, unpretentious, slightly old school food, but not in an ironic way, just because that's all they've ever done. Anywhere from greasy spoons to Asian formica tabled cafes to tea room type establishments is of interest, they must be cheap, and must be good!

All contributions gratefully received!

Thanks,

Jon

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My favourite is the cafe inside the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Renowned for their scones (both savoury and sweet), they also have fabulous home made soup (2 different varieties each day) a range of tasty dishes and other cakes.

I particularly like that you can help yourself to coffee, and although it always looks full by the time you get to the end of the queue you always find a space. The staff are just lovely too!

http://www.list.co.uk/restaurants/everywhe...enue/detail.php


Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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The Witsend Cafe in Sandsend, just up the coast from Whitby. We only go the Yorkshire coast in winter, and after a 'bracing' walk at Staithes, its a ritual to stop off at the Witsend, great hot chocolate, warming basic food in huge portions, a lovely walled garden, and the crash of the waves outside.

http://www.witsendcafe.co.uk/section42026.html


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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Fisherman,

I'm kind of cut and pasted the post below from another forum where favourite cafes came up (an architecture site would you believe) but it I think it fits your request pretty well and I couldn't face rewriting it... It created a good response and complete agreement which you can read here:

www.skyscrapercity.com

Here goes:

"I'm not followed this thread fanatically, but after a quick skim it seems none of you mentioned Manchester city centres's best greasy spoon - Linda's Cafe? I bring it to your attention firstly because it is a gem, and secondly because it may eventually get swallowed up by the surrounding developments so enjoy it whilst you can.

"Linda's" as it is known in the trade is on Ducie St, facing Ducie House (The Urban Splash office refurb) and backing onto the Piccadilly Basin. Barely a minutes walk from the bottom of Piccadilly Approach or a couple of minutes walk from the heart of N1/4 it should be on everyone's map.

Basically it is a small, tatty (but suprisingly clean) and 'old style' smoky English cafe which has been a home from home for the people who make this city tick for a good twenty years ago. It has al fresco picnic furniture outside and a mish-mash of formica seating inside.

I first started going there around nine years ago when I had a company in Ducie House, but I think us trendy 'media types' were a recent phenomenon. Before that the fact that there was plenty of space to pull over outside and it's proximity to Picadilly, the IRR and the area's industrial estates meant it was a favourite of white van men in all their guises, as well as policemen, builders and taxi drivers (who also had a specialist black cab repair shop just up the road).

So what does it serve... You want full breakfasts? You got it? A variety of fried foods? Yep? Baked spuds and buttys? Sure. Old school delights such as 'Steak Canadians'? Done. Coffee without silly names and a good cup of tea? On it's way. Crisps, chocolate and a huge number of cold drinks including Dandelion and Burdock and those weird cheap fruit drinks that builders buy. Sorted.

It doesn't stop there though. Do you need cigs? Teabags or milk for the office? Biscuits for same? Maybe a Fox's Teatime Assortment for the managers office? You'll find them all within. Still though, it get's better. I have two words - daily specials.

These are simple, home-cooked and 'old fashioned' in both the good and bad sense of the phrase. Dependent on your days you'll get spag bol, lasagne (both cooked English style with big chunks of carrots in etc), steak and onion pie, 'curry' (in the loosest sense of the word), hotpot (with crust!), braised steak and more. Obviously they are all served with chips and an eclectic side of mashed or boiled veg (carrot, swede etc).

They also specialise in roasts so time it right and you can have hot roast turkey, pork, lamb or beef, either in a big roast dinner (with mash, veg, chips etc) or just stuck on a butty (barms, or long viennas, the wholemeal variety of which are branded by the bakers as 'brown nudger'. Class. There was outcry about six months ago when prices rose but you can still get the specials (served in a huge polystyrene tray) for been £2:50 and £2:95.

Two things in particular need flagging up: Firsly the chips are divine. I'm not even sure they have a chipping machine (though they might have a peeler) as I have seen the guys in the back hand-chipping them with a knife on many occassions. The chips are double-fried, and if done right are slightly soft and browned as the sugars caramelise - just the way I like them.

Secondly the holy grail: On a Friday they have home-made cheese and onion pie. I stress here that when they say home-made they mean it. If they get it right (and it's not always consistent) then the pastry is good and short (cooked on round enamel plates) with a great gooey-cheesy centre. Served with chips and gravy it's ther best, and it is a religion in our office that everyone has to eat it.

At this point I have to stress, as a food nerd, that this is not in any way, shape or form 'posh' food. It's not even 'quality' post-modern greasy spoon food with rare breed bangers and free-range eggs. The ingredients are as cheap and 'budget-catering' as you can get (vac-pac bacon, scary sausages, fatty bread, tasteless cheese) and the cooking is low-fi in the extreme. That said, there are some times when this is just what you need.

The staff there are a little chaotic, but the owners - Harry and Linda - are very nice and it's never less than friendly and welcoming. They have had the place on a lease with the threat of a short notice period and imminent bulldozing for twenty years now but as the surrounding developments pick up speed I do think they might finally be on there way soon.

Recent developments include it becoming the canteen of choice for Ilva staff (it recently opened around the corner) and a rumoured purchase of a 'panini' machine (cue crys from the staff of 'what's a panini...?!). Needless to say I think we're still a way away from them carving pata negra ham on demand, offering you olives whilst you wait or hand-making sushi.

Pop in soon, but don't eat all the pie.

Cheers

Thom"

On a seperate note the adjacent area around Piccadilly and the Northern Quarter has around eight or ten fantastic curry cafes which you really shouldn't miss. I have waxed lyrical about these before but basically they are Pakistani 'greasy spoons' which traditionally opened during the day to serve the local (laregly Asian) ragtrade workforce but now feed a fantastically wide-ranging clientele.

My previous posts cover my likes, dislikes and recommendations in more detail but don't miss The Kebabish (best curries in the area, plus Monday tandoori chops and excellent samosas), Mahabra (best nanbreads - proper tandoor), The Al Faisal, Kabana (brain as a special), New Yagdar, Hunters (venison bhuna and tandoori quail), This and That (3 veg curries and rice - £2:50), Aladdins etc etc...

Hope that helps.

Cheers

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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The Walpole on St Marys Road in Ealing London, open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and Friday and Saturday for dinner.

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I didn't think in the heat of the moment, but this is my favourite site for cafe-nerdishness:

http://www.classiccafes.co.uk/

Cheers

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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I was just going to post the same one - great proper cafe.

They'll bellow that your food is ready ("egg, ham, chips") and if you're not up to pick up your food within a milisecond, you get a warning, "egg, ham, chips - going cold."

Mind you, it's just round the corner from the Channel 4 building so probably already well known to media types.

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Mind you, it's just round the corner from the Channel 4 building so probably already well known to media types.

haven't seen many who look like media types when I've been in. Mind you, Channel 4....

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Oh, and Betty's in Ilkley and Northallerton. Proper cakes, proper tea (and coffee should you drink the devil's brew), proper staff in proper uniforms. And they kill you if you use your mobile at the table. Tea tastes so much better when served by a nippy.


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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You're all wonderful people and I'll be looking into your suggestions. Time for a bit of hands on research I think!

If and when the project comes to anything, I'll let you all know so you can sit and shout at the telly when we pick everybody else's choice but yours.

Jon

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The Salt Box on the A516 at Hatton in Derbyshire, it’s legendary. At one time it was extremely busy on the main road from Derby to Stoke on Trent but the A50 by pass meant that passing trade has decreased.

The good thing about that is that you can now get a seat without waiting ages.

Still full of regulars though and I think it once won the title of the best cup of tea in England.

It is split into two parts one for truck drivers and one for motorist. Last time I called in for breakfast it was still busy. Had the "Tatties Breakfast" very satisfying. The strange thing about this greasy spoon/truckers stop is that breakfast ends at 11:30 and its lunch, none of this all day breakfast lark. Plus the chips are real.

Someone once called it a "conservatory built by a double glazing salesman who had retired"

I found a review about it which just about sums it up perfectly.

The Salt Box originally sat on the old A50 from Stoke to Derby. The new A50 dual-carriageway cut a high speed gash through the countryside, leaving the Salt Box behind...

But it survived.

I moved to this part of the world about 5 years ago and discovered the Salt Box for myself. My dad remembers it from the 50's as a classic greasy spoon, and an occasional long distance, exotic destination for pottery folk.

It's a classic diner of that era and hasn't changed in it's approach or style.

The staff look like a troup of dinner ladies in their overalls and hats. Pleasant, and extremely fast. Don't expect to stop and natter - they really shift! You order, get your mug of steaming tea and get to your table - your meal is usually ready for collection in under 5 minutes. And it's hot, fresh and home cooked.

Whether you need a Full English hangover cure or quick bacon sandwich, you'll not be disappointed. Or you could join the mobile business cognoscenti who have discovered the Salt Box and detour off the A50 for the classic business lunch and go for the "Pie Dinner only £3.75". Why go to the Shell or BP Service Station for a £3.99 Ginsters plastic sandwich, when you're only 5 minutes from bacon paradise.

This place looks like a greasy spoon, but isn't. I love it. If you're ever heading along the A50 between Derby and Stoke, take the A511 to Hatton and Tutbury and follow your nose!

I normally call in when I take my quarterly trip to Ludlow. Makes a great start to the weekend.

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I saw a REALLLY old school bench tabled cafe today in Fulham Broadway London... cannot remember the name, but i belive its on Fulahm street. Seriously, incredibly perfect for your show! They make omlettes, etc., but way cool old school spot.

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