CafeI:MClifton, £££Comment

I:M@East Village Cafe

CafeI:MClifton, £££Comment
I:M@East Village Cafe

Food: 8  Drink 8.5  Atmosphere: 9 Overall 8.5

The gorgeous white arches beyond Victoria Square, a coveted spot formerly the home of Arch House Deli, welcomed its newest residents ‘East Village Café’ in the closing of 2017. A fresh new venture into vegetarian cuisine, East Village serves meat-free treats in abundance - ideal for those with resolutions to ditch the meat or test the flexi diet for the New Year.  

The fresh leafy environs, paired with the wispy acoustics of Radio Head and Alt J, draw you into East Clifton Café. The blackboard menu on the wall nods to the promise of nourishment. The fashionable rows of dangling golden lights, trendy tableware, and elegant decor form a desirable setting for those wishing to unwind for an hour or two.

After claiming the desirable window table, we could see the envious look of passersby. Out of the cold and into the warm, brunchers were welcomed by the smiling, engaging staff and shown immediately to a table. The popular brunch time slot filled tables by the minute, with both the large open-front and the cosy back of the cafe increasingly populated with chatter from diners.

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The food is all local, seasonal, organic, and 100% vegetarian. Meat-eaters may not be enticed by the sound the exclusive vegetarian menu, however one look at the menu should dispel these concerns. With over 21 dishes, East Village's range and creativity is appeallingly original. Brunch staples, such as sautéed mushrooms and Shakshouka, sit beside the more interesting ‘Corn and Quinoa Waffles’ and ‘Cardamom Orange French Toast’. Breakfast, served in bowls, covers overnight oats, gourmet granola, and muesli. Lunch plates and sourdough sandwiches are also on offer, with the likes of ‘Smoky Tempeh and Harissa’, ‘Harissa Roasted Carrots and Fennel with Lentils’ and ‘Beetroot and Cashew Cheese Bagel’.  

After deliberating between the French Toast and Quinoa Waffles, I was convinced by the latter (apparently, nowhere else in Bristol serves waffles quite like these). Make sure to read through the impressive range of smoothies too, which are beyond delicious. ‘The Good Morning’ (£4.50), for instance, is a particular special: frozen banana, oats, a double espresso, oat milk and chia seeds. ‘The Caramel Shake’ (£4.50), is another of their creative concoctions, combining dates, frozen banana, peanut and almond butter, cinnamon and almond milk. 

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The waffles arrived soon after, and the sheer sight was mouth watering. They’re right in claiming this dish as their pièce de résistance: a hot crunchy waffle is a base for a large loading of hot and smoky tomato salsa, sour cashew cream, sweetcorn and avocado (with the option of a poached or fried egg for £1). Regardless of its pretty appearance, the dish was filling, with a palette of rich, fresh flavours to match. Most surprising was the tomato salsa, which elevated the dish with its tantalizing smoky heat. Nonetheless, despite toppings so tasty you have to force yourself to stop wolfing it down, the steep price of £10 a pop will inevitably raise a few eyebrows…

Proving too tempting to resist, brunch was followed with a thick slice of banana and walnut loaf (£3). Staying in tune with its health policy, all sweet treats are either sugar or gluten-free. The loaf, though not as sweet as some may like, had a delicious dense texture and rich nutty finish, pairing beautifully with an extra-creamy cappuccino. Prices are the only setback. Proving somewhat limiting for a student, with breakfast bowls coming in at £5 and smoothies £4.50.

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No doubt Clifton's stylish interiors are a large part of its initial allure. Fortunately, the elegant design and chic tableware are supported by the fine quality of the menu. And yes, whilst satisfying due to the Instagrammable appeal, the creativity and the flavours are guaranteed to excite veggies, vegans and meat-eaters alike.

East Village Cafe is the perfect place for a long-awaited brunch with friends, or a leisurely family lunch. Its impressive scale of plant-based offerings provides diners with an exciting meat-free alternative. For anyone looking for healthy food that doesn’t compromise on taste, this café must be added to your “Places to Go” list. East Village Café will come into its own in the Spring and Summer months.                                                                        Arch House, Clifton Village 




Helen Salter