Saturday, 17 November 2012

Review - Cafe 338

On Saturday morning, the house was a state. Nothing was broken but it was in need of the deep clean level of cleaning where just doing the superficial barely makes anything better. Of course, the last state you want to be in when doing this kind of grind is hungover, tired, agitated and tasting of sloe-gin-cum-dead-rodent. Nevertheless, needs must and many hands make light work. And some more cliches. We got everything done by half three which sounds like it took a long time but no one roused until two. It is still late in the day though and extinguished our pre-existing plan of going to the very famous E Pellici because it closes at four. Bethnal Green Road is full of little worker's cafes, some gentrified and some not so we went to another, Cafe 338.
It's so titled because it's number 338 which is a bit boring. We probably wouldn't think it was boring if the exterior didn't have such a gentrified vibe to it though. That's why I was  surprised to see that the menu and the staff strictly followed the stereotypical workers' cafe rather than Larder-esque coffee house. The menu was full of classics and had a jack of all trades feel to it - breakfasts, omelettes, fish and chips, traditional English, Italian. Curry too. Portion size followed suit: massive. There's a tendency to think that places which try to do everything do none of them well (Jimmy Spices) and that large portions try to compensate for quality. Maybe those two assumptions are very slightly true here but by that I mean at the moment they produce good, solid food whereas if they made their menu smaller they would be producing truly exceptional food. The mega breakfast included fried bread and black pudding with everything accurately and deliciously cooked. The baked potato was the biggest I've ever seen and the tuna was mixed with the right ratio of mayonnaise. What stood out about it though were the little touches - the lemon wedge, the salad which included lemon and red onion. The little pots of slightly fancier salad, a sort of tartare relish and a vinegary pickle. They weren't chosen at random, they were carefully put together and selected because they'd go well with the tuna. The lasagne was similarly stodgy and had heart but with carefully constructed salad reigning next to it. The veggie breakfast had grilled halloumi and beautifully fried mushrooms. My shepherds pie was as hearty as the rest, accompanied by perfectly crisp, turned roast potatoes and slightly overlooked but still tasty vegetables. Of course, everything was covered in thick, smooth gravy. I am so sad that we were all worse for wear and couldn't finish our food. On a hungrier day, I would've finished off mine and piled in everyone's leftovers. I have and will think about what we wasted in the future when I'm peckish. Oh, I should also add that the most anyone paid (including drinks) was £8.

1 comment:

  1. I had the best time at Cafe 338 - Similarly hungover state. We all ate like kings for £5 each including coffee and sodas. Worth waiting in line for half an hour.