October 10, 2014

Sawyer & Gray Cafe | Islington | London

Sawyer and Gray Exterior
I don't often take the underground in London - I venture on foot or, if it's a touch too far, on the bus. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (great book), the author makes an excellent insight into the idea that if you're travelling by car, you're a passive observer; the window framing the world as if it were a show.

The beauty of journeying by foot (or in the instance of the book, by motorcycle) is that everything is tangible and, for me, I wouldn't come across half of the things I do if I were boxed in on the underground, watching a black wall and whizzing underneath such an amazing city.

I've been keeping an eye on Sawyer & Gray on St. Paul's road for what seems like a year now, trying to see behind the washed out windows and, with a stroke of luck on my day off, it opened tentatively to the public today with intentions to bring more food and treats to the table in the coming weeks.
Flat White in Islington

Pushing open the door, chirping hello and elatedly ordering myself a flat white, I pulled up a stool in the window that looks out onto the street and set to chatting with the wonderfully friendly staff who eagerly told me that, in time, the cafe might open late into the evening with food and wine. This was music to my ears in a city where I struggle to find the relaxed cafe culture I so loved in Barcelona close enough to my house and office.
Brunch in Islington 
Looking around the premises, it's clear to see this cafe making a success of itself - being at once as spacious as it is cosy, with stairs that wind down to the open kitchen with inviting nooks if you care to be clandestine while eating your eggs on a hazy Sunday morning.
Interior at a London Cafe

 Brunch promises to be modern with all the popular choices and, of course, there will be cake. I nibbled a piece of brownie that was possibly the best I've had in a long while - crispy on the outside but soft on the inside with the occasional nutty crunch.
Best Places for Cake Islington
 Ideally situated close to Highbury and Islington station, this corner of where Upper Street meets St. Paul's road seems set to become a destination of sorts for cafe lovers - with Maison D'etre, Sawyer and Gray and a Turkish Tea House reputed to be on the way. 

This ought to keep footfall satiated and entice others to the area, establishing a pocket of that so sought cafe culture I've been dreaming of - if only the road weren't so busy, I'd like to see these places spilling out on the pavement.

For me and for now, it's the perfect spot to pick up coffee before heading to Daylight Music at the Union Chapel on Saturdays.

If the food is as good as the service and the coffee, it's another win as a top recommendation on my Islington list, along with Ez & Moss.

You can find Sawyer and Gray at 290 St. Paul's Road, Islington, N12LH
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