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food, travel, food culture

Breakfast at Tiffany’s? No thanks, I’ll have some Salt

We all(?) dream about romantic breakfasts in bed. But in reality we’re all rushing to Starsucks or – God forbid- having a sad bite in the office. Why oh why?! Well, because…time, money, “where- are -nice- cafes- if-you-work-in-tourist-land?”, you name it. Today I talk midweek breakfasts and review Salt, a welcome addition to Central London cafe’ scene – ideal  to sprinkle on your mornings to make the perspective of getting out of bed a bit more palatable.

if you want breakfast in bed

I don’t know what it is with this “breakfast in bed” myth. Virtually everyone of my female friends, and a few of my male ones, seem to think it’s  not only decadent and self-indulgent and good fun, but also some zenith of romance, with sentences like “he/she brought me breakfast in bed” spawning “awwww”s and “oooh”s all around. Depending on how close I am to the lucky object of such an act of devotion, I may or may not “aw” or “oh” but all I am thinking of is really crumbles on the sheets, pots dropping, and the thought that spoils it all: “what if I don’t like it?!”. It would make it quite awkward and let’s face it- awkward in bed doesn’t work, not even for breakfast. So, as you may have understood by now, I’m not a fan.

The perfect breakfast to me is the one you don’t have to cook or otherwise hack together, nor clear afterwards. It’s the one that makes you feel you’re treating yourself well with good food, a nice view, and the freedom of walking out to the rest of your day without worrying about tidying up. In short, a cafe’ breakfast – Italian has a word for that, “colazione al bar“, which is a byword for a truly self- indulgent lifestyle. It’s not something I allow to myself everyday – it’s usually a bowl of cereals and a fruit at work, wit milk courtesy of some Prestigious Employer- and that makes it even more special, a true guilty pleasure to enjoy occasionally.
As for all pleasures, location matters- and in Covent Garden, alas, it’s a depressing sea of Starbucks, Cafe’ Nero and the likes. If I am to give up some of my hard- earned cash and transform it in some hard-to-shed extra ounces, it has to be worth it. So no chains for me- nothing political, just don’t like undercooked muffins tasting like yeast and coffee burnt at 150 degrees. That’s why I was overjoyed to discover Salt just  a minute from the office, on my usual routine route.

salt wc2 review

It’s quite easy to miss Salt if you’re rushing from Holborn towards Covent Garden and Drury Lane in the morning endless stream of commuters and office people. Their tasteful, subdued decor doesn’t quite pop out of the window and even though they have a proper old-fashioned board with their daily specials standing on the street, you may still overlook it. As I don’t want you to risk missing it anymore, here’s what it looks like from outside (sun optional).

salt wc2 cafe 3

Another not immediately evident (good) thing is that they have a nice back room with extra seating- even though I am quite partial to people-watching from the seats by the window.
To me it looks like an East End cafe transported by some fairytale (and marketing) magic to  WC2 Touristland  and sprinkled with a bit of “old London” sophistication. My favourite details are the orchids in glass pots (no need to remind me about the phallic appearance *blushes*) and the shiny, curvy coffee machine – to which I am afraid my picture below doesn’t quite do justice.

salt cafe covent garden

The coffee is from Square Mile, which I don’t think needs much of an introduction for me as they’re deservedly famous in coffee circles- oh and they are from Bethnal Green so I’m a bit partial by default to my old neighbour. They also have a good selection of ‘proper teas’ for the tea lovers legion, and some lovely juices.
What I really like though and will keep me coming it’s their food – it suffices to say it IS as good as it looks, and probably even better as my favourite, banana bread, doesn’t photograph too well and looks a bit bland. They serve it grilled (if you like it so, clearly) , which is one of those little touches that can really make a difference between a run-of-the-mill breakfast and one that makes you go “awww”. I must confess I still haven’t’ been to Salt for lunch, but every time I stop for breakfast I am very tempted by some great looking sandwiches and flatbreads- especially a Serrano ham, mozzarella and grilled peach (yes, peach) which has made it so far as getting an accolade from the Evening Standard.

Now, the damage. This treat does not come exactly cheap (think £5-6 for coffee and a pastry)- but if you consider location, quality and the quiet, intimate atmosphere of Salt, it’s a bargain compared to anonymous chains. And this Wednesday 18th of November July  they are going to have a “stick it to the man” coffee giveaway- you’ll just have to look out for the lovely people giving away cups around Holborn and Covent Garden tube stations (and yes, even in front of the mega-chains- way to go guys!) and bring one to Salt to get a proper brew. It’s true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so (almost) free breakfast it’s as good as it gets.
So I now know where to head when I want to give myself a good midweek morning cuddle- my new motto is “why waiting for someone to bring me breakfast in bed when we I can have it my way?” .

Do you have any favourite coffee and cake place to share? Suggestions welcome!

Salt Espresso and Tea on Urbanspoon

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  1. I don’t like breakfast in bed either…I though I was the only one LOL
    That cafe’ looks lovely too bad I’m in Manchester…

  2. Great write-up and looking forward to visiting Salt soon – for coffee and lunch! :)

  3. I love Salt. The best iced coffee I have ever had came from there, and the apple and cinnamon cake, grilled, with a little butter was a taste of heaven. Proper food, lovely people, and a very nice place. I just wish it was nearer to my work so I could pop in and get a coffee, but they are not on my route any more. :(

    • Same here- I used to work on Long Acre and would indulge in breakfast at Salt a couple times a week…not anymore, but when I’m in the area I still pop by. It’s a lovely place in the desert for indie places which is Covent Garden.

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