J + A Café



There’s certainly enough exposed brick and salvaged school-room furniture to make this look like a hipster hideout, but the appeal, and subsequently the clientele is much broader based.

It’s the sort of cafe where ‘city elements’ (accessories: copy of the Financial Times, weighty cufflinks, golf umbrella) meet ‘creative-but-financially-viable elements’ (architects). Sure, we’re still a stone’s throw from Old Street, so there are still asymmetrical haircuts here and there.

I first noticed ‘J and A’ via their monogrammed chalkboard on the street: dropped like the handkerchief of a coy genteel-woman, who had subsequently scurried up a small brick alley-way. My gallantry was rewarded around four steps into the narrow lane when I was met with flower-heavy geranium baskets, pleasing brickwork and seating on which the little courtyard can be enjoyed.

On the left, an entrance leads to the ‘cafe’ part of the establishment, where I enjoyed the a soya latte and a serviceable mushroom omelette. Service was strong and speedy and the seven strong team I could see (kitchen, service and ?owner ?manager) did not stop moving during my 90 minute stay (great for cafe, tricky for drawing). On the right of the courtyard, an as yet unopened bar, tiled in white and british racing green, looked promising for a gimlet or sidecar of an evening.

It’s not the sort of place where an expresso buys unlimited drawing time, and, feeling the staff ready themselves for lunchtime trade, I got down the shapes and rough tones of the above for more detailed rendering at home. I do find ballpoint pen oddly pleasing to work with.


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