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Friday, 7 October 2011

ST ALi, Coffeebar Cafe & Roastery, Clerkenwell

It was THE day for having brunch in London... Saturday 1st October 2011 with the sun's scorching rays encouraging us all to make the most of the last of summer. St ALi was the location, 27 Clerkenwell Road and we were there nice and early while the locals seemed to still be yawning hello to the weekend.

I was thrilled to finally be visiting St. ALi, one of the coolest coffee joints in town. As I sat on the welcoming benches outside, the sky a luminous shade of sapphire and the street glowing with early morning sunshine, I could easily have been in southern Europe. Inside the venue is relaxed and friendly, a constant chatter can be heard all around from satisfied diners. Baristas and waitresses assemble in the central station where tempting croissants adorn the counter and coffee machines are hard at work. We were seated upstairs where it is just as busy, in fact we were warned we may have to queue as St Ali gets so popular at weekends, but luckily avoided this (a line had formed outside by the time we left at 12.30pm).

For the sake of a thorough review, we selected a variety of brunch choices. Sampling the divine coffee, freshly roasted and ground onsite (we even saw the giant machine), the creamy hot chocolate and the freshly squeezed orange juice. Foodwise there is ample choice - whatever you feel like, light or more filling. Persuaded by the display downstairs, we couldn’t resist the pastries and so ordered an almond croissant and pain au chocolat to share. Soft, luxurious, flaky and buttery they were delicious, especially for dipping into the rich coffees.

I chose the salad of mango, watermelon, pineapple, passion fruit and pomegranate, with minted yoghurt & granola, a mountain of the freshest fruit stacked in a stunning pile of bright colours, it looked too good to eat. The minted yoghurt is an original addition, adding a kick of contrasting flavour, and the granola gave crunch. My friends ordered the French toast, with organic maple syrup, vanilla mascarpone & caramelised walnuts, a combination which makes my mouth water just to write it. This dish comes with the option of extra dry aged bacon but they decided it was decadent enough already. I tried the toast, and can confirm it is absolutely scrumptious, the perfect brunch treat.

If only I lived in Clerkenwell, I would be a regular customer of St ALi, but for now I will have to cherish the memory of a brilliant October brunch.

St ALi can be found at 27 Clerkenwell Road, they don't take reservations so get there early. Visit the website here.

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