I had three months off last summer when I changed jobs. Much of that time was spent hanging out in London, mostly in the park, reading the papers every lay and lazing around in the sunshine. And there was the frequent mooching around in the cafes and coffee shops of Stoke Newington Church Street. All good.
But I am now also a little annoyed, as Fred & Fran have chosen to open their new cafe now, rather than last summer when it would have suited me. Because this is just the sort of place I could have seen myself wandering over to every day for coffee and a snack to accompany a little light reading.
Fred & Fran is a great little place serving great food and excellent coffee. It’s a couple of streets back from Stoke Newington Church Street, so it’s a little quieter and, in my experience, this means you stand a sporting chance of getting a table when you turn up. Not that the place is not busy, but for the time being (and until the world finds out about this place) they’re getting it right.
As you can see from the pictures, there are quite a few rather charming retro touches. Tea pots come with knitted cosies around them, and the teacups are fancy old-fashioned flowery variety. Water is served in old milk bottles, and in my case it was a bit of a blast from the past to see a bottle carrying an advert for Balisto chocolate bars. A quick search on Google suggests they are about to be re-launched in the UK. What goes around comes around, eh?
When you come in, you’re face to face with a large selection of very tempting cakes, which were driving several children into a bit of a frenzy.
But it’s not all cake, and I was seriously impressed with the savoury dishes on offer. It was a flip between the spinach and nutmeg soup or an open sandwich, but in the end I went for bruschetta with cannellini bean spread, feta and roasted peppers, and a roasted aubergine, lemon and goat cheese affair. Both were delicious – lots of bold flavours and very satisfying. The latter also had a good shot of garlic in there. This is veggie food that is very far from being dull.
After my satisfying lunch, the debate was around whether it was time for cake. I concluded that it was.
While I was a little full, but it seemed wrong not to finish off my pot of Earl Grey without a slice of something sweet. And what a choice! Lemon tart, pear and yoghurt cake, mini fruit loaves, almond tarts…all looked great. And on previous visits, I’ve seen lovely croissants, Chelsea buns and a fab ginger and stout cake. But what stood out as the jewel in the crown was the carrot and walnut cake. It had to be that one.
Now, I can promise you that this one tastes as good as it looks. Nice and spicy, moist and with generous chunks of walnut. There was also a good cream cheese frosting to cake ratio. I loved it. In face, I probably ate too much of it. But I would happily go back there again, and again, and again. Also a perfect place to pop into for a fortifying cup of coffee and a snack before going off on a long walk down towards the river or through the back streets of East London.
Fred & Fran – good to have you here and welcome to the neighbourhood!
Fred & Fran, 55 Kynaston Road, London N16 0EB. Tel: 07788 158 742. Bus: 73, 393 or 476 (stop: Bouverie Road).
LondonEats locations map here.