Jumping off the train in Hackney Wick in search of the Counter Cafe, and I was faced with the decision of walking through an industrial estate or by the side of a flyover. Nice. But my love for edgy urban areas, like those that I fell in love with in Berlin soon kicked in; I paced past the barbed wire and sheet metal admiring the street art and the rough and ready scruffiness of the area. I followed the beat of distant live music further into the matrix of warehouses until I spotted a few chairs at a dead end and knew I must have arrived.
The Counter Cafe is located in the Stour Space Art Gallery, next to the River Lea, which has amazing views onto the ever growing Olympic Stadium. It has unique, understated but well thought out decor that blends into the creative space. The cafe offers a variety of breakfast dishes from the big chalk board and has a selection of pastries, pies and cakes on offer. We arrived at about midday on Sunday and managed to bag a table next to the window overlooking the small balcony where people were enjoying a smoke. We were told there would be a 15 minute wait on the food so we ordered quickly, sat back and relaxed. I went for the mumbai eggs with bacon, and my boyfriend a classic egg and bacon sandwich. We both ordered coffees.
The mumbai eggs were gently spiced, nicely runny and served on delicious toasted bread with peppery watercress. But there was something just not quite right. The bacon definitely didn’t go (yes I ordered it, but it was written as an option on the menu and shouldn’t have been) and the sweet, tomato chutney went perfectly smothered over my boyfriend’s tiger bread bacon sandwich (which was very good), but not with the onions and ginger I was getting from the eggs. Scrap the bacon and the chutney, add some fresh coriander and chilli and I think this would have been a winning, coherent dish. Next time I’ll just have the sandwich, the bread was fresh and crunchy, the egg was runny and fresh and the bacon salty and cooked well.
Unfortunately, the boys running this place weren’t really on the ball with their service, they treated the coffee and the food as two separate orders, so the person who delivered our food (after a 15 minute wait) couldn’t explain why our coffees hadn’t arrived yet. Despite the lateness, they were delivered with a smiley apology and they were delicious. My latte was creamy and smooth and the long black, rich and bitter.
I’m really interested in seeing how this place develops as the hype of the Olympics booms and grows, so I will be back and just hope a few of the issues will have been ironed out. If you want to find them yourselves the address is 7 Roach Road, E3 2PA – but bring a map or an iPhone to find your way!