Completing our round-up of Siobhan Wall’s Quiet London series, here she picks out five North London cafes where you can kick back, relax, eat and drink, all whilst enjoying some quiet time
1 The Cloister Café Great St Bartholomew’s
Enter the beautiful Great St Bartholomew’s Church by passing underneath the Elizabethan gatehouse. After slowly wandering round its hallowed interior, find a table in this tranquil café to the right of the main porch (pictured top). There aren’t many places where you can sit and have a slice of chocolate cake among 15th century cloisters, but the ancient surroundings make this one of the nicest cafes in London to enjoy afternoon tea. Fresh mint tea is served in white china pots, and with the pale green light filtering through the leaded glass windows this is one of the most peaceful corners in England.
West Smithfield EC1A 9DS; 020 7600 0440; greatstbarts.com
2 Basak Pastenesi
This may be the only bakery in London where you can see your durum bread being rolled out and baked on a hot griddle in the window. Even though you are in North London, the friendly women who work here make this small café and patisserie feel as if you have arrived in a Turkish village. On a summer day, take your piping hot, delicious lahmacun (Turkish pizza), zeytinli (olive) bread, some pistachio baklava and a few beakers of ayran yoghurt drink for a Mediterranean picnic on Newington Green.
47 Newington Green N16 9PX; 020 7359 2338
3 The Angel Inn
This is a greasy spoon with a menu to suit everyone, from city gent to builder’s mate. Drop in for a huge weekday cooked breakfast with baked beans on toast and fried eggs, then bring your children at the weekend for knickerbocker glories and milkshakes. The chefs also cook substantial lunches at very reasonable prices, including roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables or fish and chips followed by roly-poly pudding with custard. On a Sunday you could even bring your aunt for an Americano coffee and Danish pastry after a trip to the local antique markets.
420 St John Street EC1V 4NJ; 020 7837 7946
4 Sable d’Or
The title of this pleasant café translates as ‘Golden Sand’, and the elegant French chandeliers and North African tiles suggest a Mediterranean influence. Drop in for a croissant and coffee for breakfast, then come back for a lemon, frangipani or pear apricot tart around 11am. If you have time, discuss the issues of the day over a sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and olive ciabatta sandwich for lunch. Delicious viennoisseries can be bought at the counter to take home or enjoyed with a cup of tea in this stylish café. Artists show their work here in monthly changing exhibitions, which means that if you run out of conversation you can always discuss the paintings on the walls.
249 Muswell Hill Broadway N10 1DE; 020 8442 1330; sabledor.co.uk
5 The Foundry at The Wesley
Close to Euston Station, but located down a quiet back street, the restaurant in this welcoming hotel is filled with sunshine on warm days. You can order a pot of tea and enjoy a light lunch cooked with ethically sourced ingredients. The high ceilings and simple decoration make this a calm, safe place to sit on your own or meet up with friends. Try their Cumberland sausage and mash or a buffalo mozzarella, tomato and avocado salad and one of their delicious ice-creams and sorbets, made in their own kitchen. All profits go to an educational charity, so you can enjoy great food whilst knowing that your visit benefits others.
81-103 Euston Street NW1 2EZ; 020 7380 0001; thewesley.co.uk
Quiet London: Food and Drink. Text and photography by Siobhan Wall. Published by Frances Lincoln, £7.99; franceslincoln.com