Stacey Black visits the trendy East Village Café for an impossibly Insta-ready brunch
Planted squarely in the heart of Clifton Village is East Village Café; a stylish place that promises nourishing food that is as photogenic as it is delicious.
With tall windows that give full view of the arches on Boyce’s Avenue, and an interior that is a veritable jungle of hanging plants and succulents, this place is very dapper. Bright walls, colour-pop love seats, painted white chunky floorboards and greenery literally everywhere, this is an instagrammer’s dream. If the same amount of effort was put into the food as the décor, I was about to be one very happy customer.
Feeling a little jaded from the weekend’s festivities, I headed over on a lazy Sunday morning, hoping to be restored by the healthy fare on offer. Busy for the early(ish!) hour, almost every table in the bright and airy space was occupied, and a constant stream of hungry brunchers traipsed in and out past the counter that was absolutely groaning under the weight of delicious-looking cakes.
As a veggie, I’m sometimes disappointed by the uninspiring breakfast options that some places offer, but I was well and truly spoilt for choice here. With a menu that is all vegetarian, and mostly vegan, choices include açaí bowls, maple and coconut ‘bacon’ pancakes, and home-made beans on toast. Later in the day, toasted doorstop sourdough sandwiches are served, along with frittatas, vegan ‘sausage’ rolls and salad bowls.
But today I was here for a filling breakfast, for reasons mentioned earlier. And filling it was. After downing a nutritious and intensely purple blueberry and flaxseed smoothie, I was already feeling energised and primed for something more substantial. My shakshouka was just what I needed. You can imagine my delight when it arrived and was so immense, it had to be transported on a board. A hot skillet was filled to the brim with tomato, onion and sweet pepper sauce, and topped with herbs and a serious amount of seasoned scrambled tofu. Slightly spicy, tangy and utterly delicious, I scooped it up with the two ginormous wedges of sourdough that accompanied it. My eyes are always bigger than my belly, so I also ordered extra seared tempeh on the side. This nutty, crumbly delight was a nice addition, especially when broken up and scattered over the remaining tomato sauce.
Possibly feeling slightly more fragile than I was, my dining partner chose a restorative peppermint tea and the savoury corn and quinoa waffles as her Sunday morning remedy. If my shakshouka hadn’t been as stellar, I may have been a bit jealous when a mountain of wholesome-looking waffles reached our table. These were loaded with smoky tomato salsa, sweetcorn, avocado and cashew cream. The waffles were light, but with a healthy amount of texture and the salsa was rich and flavourful. Wonderfully refreshing, the smashed avocado and cashew cream were the perfect foil to the bold Mexican-inspired flavours. She was intrigued by the coconut ‘bacon’ and had ordered a portion of these as well, describing them as a “stroke of genius”. I was inclined to agree; perfectly-toasted coconut flakes were scattered about her plate, and it was impossible not to eat these smoky, sweet morsels by the hundred. Don’t worry, I left her some.
Clifton isn’t short on amazing places to eat, and East Village Café is surely amongst the best. I’m a firm believer that you eat with your eyes, and the team have gone to great lengths to create dishes that not only look beautiful, but are nourishing and packed with flavour. If you’re looking for a lovely selection of interesting breakfasts, healthy soups and hearty sandwiches, then look no further.
East Village Café