London Life Coffee Shops

j+a café

October 11, 2012

Now, we know that london is full of incredible places to have coffee, eat from early to late, hold parties and just hang out and watch the world go by.

When it comes to lunch or brunch, again, there are 100’s of places and I’ve tried many. The question is, what makes a place good versus a favourite, versus one to recommend.

I’m late to this party, but today i want to show you a rather special place that i stumbled across. J+A café has been running for 4 years. Hidden away in a courtyard between clerkenwell road and great sutton street, you’ll find them on the ground floor of a beautiful old diamond-cutting factory. Owned by 2 irish sisters, johanna and aoife ledwidgethe, the café was inspired by traditional family values and good old-fashioned hospitality. It oozes friendliness (the staff are truly incredible) and i have rarely come across a place in london so unpretentious and more like being around a big kitchen table at home.

Their latest addition is a bar on the opposite side of the café, still in the courtyard which can be used for dinner between wednesday and saturday but can also be hired out for private parties 7 days a week. This is really the clincher for me. A private courtyard with a 2 floor building on one side and a one floor building on the other side, all to be used for your event if you so wish. Top this with outside seating and it’s a little heaven of private space in the middle of london. No wonder they are booked up until christmas. Genius!

Let me show you the café. This was on a sunday for brunch.

There is always fresh-baked soda bread, which toasted was delicious. They use organic meats and you can tell they care about sourcing good produce.

For the evening, when the café shuts, all eyes are on the bar and on many nights you’ll find it hired out for private parties.

What’s so great is that they have a variety of furniture to play with and therefore can layout and create the mood requested by the party host. I loved these painted wooden table tops.

Nice green chairs.

Well, best thing really, go and check it out for yourselves. I’d like to thank gian paulo, the bar manager, for making me feel so welcome and allowing me to take all these photos, while quite busy himself. I was really taken aback by the friendliness, laid back atmosphere and and incredible customer service and look forward to visiting many more times.

Do you know of other such secluded hidden treasures in london or elsewhere in urban cities? What defines a great place for you? Is it food, ambience, customer service?

Have a great weekend. I shall see you back here on monday.

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24 Comments

  • Reply Igor October 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This is a great café, Tina!! Lough the industrial, weathered look of the interior. Bet the coffee and the cakes are great, too:-)

    • Reply tina October 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

      Yes, went there yesterday again for brunch… so simple and good!
      Another place for when you visit!

  • Reply sue October 12, 2012 at 3:42 am

    sounds like a good spot for a blogger meet-up! hint hint 😉

    • Reply tina October 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Haha. Now, I suggest you and Annie set this up:)

  • Reply Catherine Bedson October 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    What a great place. I love that you felt like it was being at someone’s kitchen table. The Irish are so good at down to earth hospitality. Great pics I felt like I was there. Thank you for the lovely comment about my photography & styling, made my day! xx

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:07 am

      You’re right, the irish are really good at hospitality. They just have that one figured out!! xx

  • Reply Sam Lennie October 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Love it, love it, love it! How cool would it be to throw a party there.

    I think all those elements define a great place for me, plus it has to be wonderful on the eye, and clean. There’s nothing worse than eating off a dirty, unwiped table and s**t on the floor around your feet.

    Great find Tina x

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

      That’s what I was thinking…. party, yes!

      Sam, where do you usually eat? ‘There’s nothing worse than eating off a dirty, unwiped table and s**t on the floor around your feet.’ Not sure I frequent places like that, but you’re right, there are many of those… xx

  • Reply Theresa October 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I want to meet you here for lunch/dinner! This cafe defines a great space to me. It has all the most important ingredients that you pointed out – great ambiance, food, and staff. I especially love the outdoor space with all the brick, black trimmed windows, and cute bunting.
    You find the best, tucked away spaces, Tina! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Deal!!! When??? I’ll be there in a flash:)
      Stop teasing me, get your gorgeous kids and hubby and come over. We’re all waiting for you x

  • Reply Holly October 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Oh boy. I just fell in love with that courtyard, and those windows!!

    The place looks great Tina! Thanks for sharing it.

    What makes a resto/bar/cafe great? I would have to say all of the above. Food, service, ambience … all important to me. If one of these don’t satisfy, then the others have to make up for it big time. Otherwise you can bet I won’t be going back. There’s this pizza place in Berlin, I Due Forni. It has really great food, super cool and unique ambiance, but the service is horrible – and not in the way that you wait forever for your food, more in the way that the wait staff are rude, cold, unaffected. It’s actually funny if you’re prepared for it. But the food and the place itself is so good, I’ve been back many times, even though the service is bad 😉

    Happy weekend to you xoxoxo

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Gosh, another one on the list for when you visit… it’s growing!!

      I think I’ve heard of ‘I due Forni’. Am not a pizza fan but when its done well I’ll eat it. I don’t ever eat pasta either but on friday night I went to a little italian place and ordered pasta. I was blown away and really enjoyed it! Having said that, the staff were great. I think for me it’s definitely the whole package. Not easy, but as we can see, doable!!

      Anyway, when I come to The Hive, let’s go to ‘I Due Forni’ or maybe we’ll find a place with great food and great service. Deutschland, die Service Wüste!! xx

  • Reply geraldine October 13, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Oh Tina, another great place. I still think you seriously need to write a London guide to cool spots – I would definitely buy it 🙂 I agree with Sue above – great place for blogger meet up. The owners sound lovely. Thanks for sharing – looking forward to your next post 🙂 x

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Ha. This is my guide, for all of you…:)

      Yes, Sue and Annie will hopefully arrange! xx

  • Reply Gian Paolo October 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    article, photos, comments, oh my!
    articles like this are one of the things that make my day worth

    xx

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:19 am

      Ciao Gian Paolo,

      We had a great time yesterday.. thank you. You are just too lovely and so are the rest of the staff.
      Thank you for your comment. see you soon. xx

  • Reply Christine October 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I think I could have those strawberry pancakes every day. They’re mini, right? So, it’s ok. Um…yes food is #1 in a dining experience but atmosphere is VERY close 2nd. For me, lighting establishes that right off the bat. This place looks like it would make me VERY happy.
    p.s. your shots, again, are amazing!

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:20 am

      Yes, they were mini-midi.. still ok… Ha….
      Come over too, we can all meet there.

      Thanks Christine. Hope you are well! xx

  • Reply annie October 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Wow I’d never have known that place was there. I agree wtih Sue, it looks like a great place for a meet up, let’s do it!

    • Reply tina October 16, 2012 at 12:20 am

      This is your cue, Bird! Your chance to organise a meet up:)

  • Reply Caroline @trend-daily October 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Gorgeous discovery-don’t you just love it when you stumble across a hidden gem!x

    • Reply tina October 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks lovely… yes, those moments are precious. x

  • Reply Stacey Sheppard October 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    This place looks lovely Tina!! Great find! x

    • Reply tina October 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

      Thanks Stacey…. yes, one to meet at the next time you’re in London:)

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