For many years Archway has been one of those parts of London that can best be described as connective tissue – there to join up the more famous and entertaining areas such as Kentish Town, Highgate and Holloway Road . However, recently it has started to change and the previously grubby main street littered with greasy spoons and rickety shop fronts has begun to resemble a place that can best be described as Lower Highgate. Here and there wine shops, bright and inventive delicatessens and the odd cocktail bar nestle next to pound shops and traditional fishmongers.
Now before you throw on your favourite pig mask and get ready for a bit of anti-gentrification paint-throwing, relax. Archway has not become yet another haven of upwardly mobile thirty-somethings with too much cash and little care about their surroundings. The best places in the area are still excellently down to earth. Chief amongst the vanguard of tasty eateries that has popped up is the excellent ‘Bread and Bean’, little brother of the much-vaunted ‘Spoke’ on Holloway Road.
‘Bread and Bean’ is the picture perfect modern London coffee shop – unpretentious, excellent produce and with a thankfully low bearded hipster count. Instead it’s brimful of mother’s and children, local students and self-employed folk filling themselves with warm, feisty coffee pick-me-ups and delicious simple food. You can eat a tasty two courses for under a tenner, with our particular favourite being the “Breakfast for Lovers” – a tasty dance of carbs and protein as sweet fried potato is complemented by some chorizo that packs a mighty punch.
The star of the show are the array of cakes on display – nothing less than top-shelf dessert pornography, on full display with minors around. The gastronomic Mary Whitehouse deep inside me was hollering “but think of the children!?!” whilst the slavering hungry cakebeast at the forefront of my mind simply stated “feed me the cake now!” And that’s no surprise, whether you want to pretend to be healthy with some olive oil and vegetable cake (doesn’t sound much fun, but is a light treat) or eat their chocolate and Guinness cake – one of the densest items in the universe and all the better for it, you’ll never do wrong by your tastebuds.
The atmosphere is casual, friendly and, most importantly, communal. Almost every person who pops in seems to know the staff there and the wall is a very welcoming collage of posters highlighting local events, classes and performances. This is how gentle London living should be – affordable, tasty and with lashings of cake just an arms length away.
Bread and Bean can be found at 37 Junction Road, Archway, N19 5QU