niche-outerIt’s easy when you’re wandering down Upper Street in Islington to forget corners occupied by cafes such as Niche Food and Drink on Roseberry Avenue, a stones throw away from Angel tube station and round the corner from Jamie’s Italian Kitchen. This bijoux and contemporary cafe focuses on hand produced salads, quiches, pies, hot meals, breakfasts and an array of cakes and cookies.

The decor is muted and understated but elegant and it’s extremely quiet when I pass by for lunch, although an hour later is a more bustling affair. One of the co-owners explains that the venue has been open a mere three months and is already doing a roaring trade. The focus is on home-style cooking but a bit more upmarket. After all, if it’s better than you can notch up in your own kitchen, it’s worth heaving yourself out of that armchair for a visit.

The prices are reasonable with breakfasts costing around £7-8 and lunches start at £4.25 for a starter and £7.75 for a salad. There is an extremely reasonable theatre set menu for £12.50 and three course dinner offer, which is a snip at £15.50 including a glass of prosecco.

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Starter

scotch-eggs

I was keen to sample a few things but having seen a rather lush image of their scotch egg online, I was keen to give it a whirl. Mark assured me that everything is carefully cooked from scratch. Indeed the homemade salad cream accompanying the scotch egg is from a Gary Rhodes recipe. I certainly found it tasty and was pleasantly surprised with the scotch egg. It’s an upmarket version and although I prefer salads or smoked salmon as a starter, I did really enjoy this. The eggs were cooked really well. Definitely worth a try. Scotch egg and sausage lovers will be bowled over. 14/20

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Main

quiche

The signature quiches at Niche are made in their very own kitchen using a rich buttery short crust pastry and free-range eggs. Served with a simple salad and house dressing the quiche was dense and filling. The eggs are ever-present and strong in this affair and the garlic and tarragon in my vegetarian mushroom quiche is not strongly discernable. It’s really comfort food and pie, pastry and quiche lovers will certainly enjoy. 14/20

I do love simple healthy foods so was a fan of the Superfood salad with butternut squash, marinated feta, quinoa, broccoli, alfalfa, avocado, fresh mint and parsley. The cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash and it was a commendable offering for the price. It’s also gluten-free and a light main, if you’re watching your waist line or health-focused. 14/20

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Dessert

niche-drizzle

Healthy, non, but delicious. I was a huge fan of the lemon drizzle cake, also made from scratch. It was wonderfully zesty and not too dense. Topped with some fresh cream it was a satisfying end to a lovely meal. I was also fortunate enough to sample their white chocolate cookies and white chocolate blondie. Compared to other similar concept cafes in London the cakes are pretty darn good. 16/20

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Overall

The cafe is well-situated, extremely helpful, focused on good quality grub with minimum waiting time. Food is comforting, there are a variety of healthy and vegetarian options and desserts are sweet and sating. Indeed, the lady seated at the opposite table gushes over her white chocolate blondie, as I cannot resist asking her opinion.

Rating: 15/20.

Cost: From £7 for breakfast to around £11-14 for a main.

Telephone:  020 7837 5048

Address: 197-199 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TJ​

Open: Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 10pm, Sat: 8:30am – 6:30pm, Sun 1:00pm – 5:00pm.

For more information see www.nichefoodanddrink.com

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