An independent cafe/bar in the heart of the edgy and up-and-coming suburb of Ouseburn. A place for everyone; hungry students, the city’s young professionals, groups of yummy mummies and their offspring, couples in search of long, lazy lunches and older folk (perhaps with a pooch or two) who like their coffee and posh sarnies. It’s open everyday from 10am until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking (responsibly of course!) and dancing. We like going for a spot of weekend brunch, but it comes alive in the evenings – expect live local bands taking to the stage as part of funky music nights, twinkly lights galore and an impressive range of beers, ales, spirits and cool cocktails on offer.
Shabby-chic/retro/ a little bit ‘hippy’ and little bit surfer-eqsue. That make sense? Good. But seriously, it’s as if its deliciously laid-back atmosphere has oozed into its surroundings; it’s all a bit mismatched, a bit scuffed, with zingy colour thrown into the mix here and there for good measure, lovely chunky tables, 80-style sofas, plants, and music memorabilia dotted about.
We’re yet to neck back a few alcohol-infused tipples at brekkie (but if that’s your thing, choose either a Bloody Mary or a fizzy mimosa), but we certainly can vouch for the tea and coffee. They do all sorts, but our favourite is a mug of ‘blue mango’ green tea – really zippy and refreshing. It’ll wake you up. The coffee is locally and lovingly-roasted by Ouseburn Coffee Co – so you can’t go wrong.
The grub is homemade, fresh-to-order and packed with local, seasonal ingredients and wherever possible. Brekkie is served from 10am until 3pm – hence why so many venture here for brunchy goodness – but you can order from the main menu from 12pm onwards. Regardless of whether you’re a meat-eater, a veggie or even a non-gluten-eating vegan, you’ll find something that’ll make your mouth water and your belly very happy indeed. Think big, traditional brekkies with all the trimmings (there’s a veggie one and a vegan version, which includes chunky guacamole and creamy tofu), fresh Craster kippers with poached egg and spinach, Mexican-inspired ‘hash’ bowls, filled with smoky chorizo chunks, fried potato, onion, spices, hollandaise and more halloumi (never a bad thing in our book), and inventive, oozy, gooey flatbread numbers, filled with combos such as creme fraiche, gruyere and pancetta, butternut squash, goats cheese and pine nuts and lamb and feta. For mains, there are fish finger sarnies with a twist, veggie chilli burgers, wraps and giant frittatas.
Mexican cuisine has a firm place in our hearts, so we can never say no to the ‘Eggs Eclipso’ (£8) – essentially their version of good old huevos rancheros, or ‘baked eggs’. We add chorizo nuggets and slabs of salty halloumi for extra bite, but the slow-cooked, paprika-y base of gently-spiced tomatoes and red peppers is just as wonderful on its own. The eggs, we’ve found, are always poached to perfection too – runny and bright orange. We tried the gluten-free flatbread for mopping up all that sauce and have no complaints; if, like us, you like your bread slightly on the stodgy side, then it’ll be a winner for you. Inspired by our egg-tastic order, one of our dining chums went for the ‘Eggs Ernesto’ (£8.50), which involves plump poached eggs plonked on a warm toasted muffin, joined by plenty of rocket for spice, spinach and a generous dollop of homemade, silky hollandaise – the perfect balance of creaminess and tartness. They added smoked salmon and pancetta on this particular day for a little extra indulgence – but veggies can add, you guessed it, halloumi. Our other buddy settled on the ‘Ernest Veggie Breakfast’, showcasing homemade herby veggie sausages (don’t be put off by their vivid green colour – they’re well-seasoned and packed full of flavour and goodness), thick slabs of grilled halloumi, a scattering of fresh, woody mushrooms and hunks of crusty, buttery bread for bean-dipping. Just ace.