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Thursday 18 November 2010

London's Best Independent Cafés - Foxcroft & Ginger

I remember a time in London not so long ago when a request for a cup of coffee resulted in a solitary option of filtered, sometimes stewed, bitter coffee, or with any luck a milky capuccino. Then we had the advent of chain coffee houses like Costa and Starbucks. While quality was improved, what these places did was to give us endless choices. No longer was asking for a cup of coffee a simple task - words like "grande", "double macchiato", or "decaf-latte" had to be mastered, as well as high prices, and those dreadful large paper cups.

We have come a long way since then, and the latest development in this story is a wave of new, independent coffee houses in London that want to take things a step further. Foxcroft & Ginger is one such cafe, which I had meant to visit since it opened in January 2010.

It occupies a new residential development in Berwick Street, taking in the ground floor and basement, in the heart of the fruit and vegetable market. Owned by husband and wife Georgina and Quintin, this is the first cafe they have run themselves, having been employed in the restaurant business for a number of years.

I loved the trendy but laid back feel of the place, with exposed brickwork, white tiles, polished cement counter, old Unions Jack flags and large antiques scattered around. The basement sitting area is spacious, containing comfortable sofas and chairs, and looks like a place designed to allow people time and space to enjoy their coffee and food, and as a great meeting place.

The coffee is prepared from the excellent beans of Monmouth Coffee House and is served in quirkily mismatched vintage crockery. The food, which is predominantly British, is beautifully and invitingly laid out on the ground floor counter.

Georgina bakes cakes and pastries on the premises, including nowadays hard to find English varieties like Bath and Chelsea buns and Eccles cakes. They also serve a variety of delicious cold or toasted sandwiches and other brunch items like English Muffin with Black Pudding, Scramble Egg and Chives @ £3.50 or Chunky Bread with Mushrooms, Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto and Parmesan @ £3.50.

On very few occasions do I find myself struggling to make a choice from a menu - this was one such occasion. After much deliberation we opted for the "Ham & Cheese French Toast" - this was three layers of eggy bread, with a filling of hand-cut honey roasted ham, Béchamel and melted cheese, topped with a drizzle of the most heavenly mustard-flavoured honey. Superb!

Next we had a sandwich of crusty bread, filled with slowly braised chuck steak, cheddar cheese, Béchamel, tomato chutney, radicchio and rocket leaves. This was also excellent - Quintin told us he makes them in batches of just three at a time, so that the bread has no time to be made soggy by the contents.

We finished with banana bread - served warm, this was delicious, sweet, and with plenty of cinnamon, just how I like it.

To accompany our food, we had a couple of cups of coffee - black/filtered coffee and a capuccino (old habits die hard!). Both coffees were excellent - rich, with a great depth of flavour but also smooth.

We were interested to hear Georgina and Quintin's plans for the place. Currently, it is open 8am to 7pm seven days a week, but they have just been granted their alcohol licence, so they plan to stay open until 10 or 11pm, and perhaps until midnight at the weekends.

Their aim is to serve platters of cheese and salami in the evenings as well as some hot food options, along with boutique wines, and they may even host wine tastings. They have also just recruited two bakers, so that they can make their own bread and a broader range of pastries in house.

Cost: About £6-£7 for an excellent cup of coffee and a sandwich or cake.

Likes: British themed decor, cakes and food. Excellent Monmouth coffee at reasonable prices. Great location in the heart of Soho.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: Foxcroft and Ginger is such a refreshing change from the international coffee chains we have grown familiar with. In addition to excellent coffee beautifully served, Georgina and Quintin also bake their own breads, cakes and buns as well as freshly made sandwiches and other brunch items in-house. I loved it. Very highly recommended.

Foxcroft and Ginger on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, you've made me really hungry! This place looks lovely - I'll definitely be checking it out. Food looks delish and the coffee in mis-matched tea cups is a really nice touch.

  2. I'll definitely look out for this place the next time I'm in Soho. Just took a look on their website; so glad they're open on a Sunday.

    Fantastic photos too, Luiz!

  3. This place looks wonderful (lovely pics), as does the food and coffee. I find if a place knows how to make a good coffee - such as Lantana and Caravan - they also know how to make great food. I must seek this place out (though it's nigh on impossible to keep up with the plethora of exciting new places popping up in Soho/Covent Gdn!).

  4. What an exciting discovery! I wonder do they have wifi/encourage people to pop in to work - am always on the lookout for new 'city offices' ;-)

  5. Oh my goodness - what lovely pictures, what scrumptious descriptions, what an incredible place it seems to be... I'm already one foot there - I'll be checking it some time soon, for sure. I have to try that French Toast with honey mustard, mmm. And you can never go wrong with Monmouth Coffee. And just think I was on Berwick yesterday to see why there's so much oohs and wows about Flat White, but I wish I have gone to F&G instead... Flat White's flat white was ok but not really so special. Certainly good quality but I still think Monmouth is unbeatable! Plus all those savoury and sweet bites at F&G. And if you say there are none dislikes whatsoever - it must be really something. I am going!

  6. Luiz, so nice to meet you on Monday. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. I'm doing a round up of fav blogs this week and you'll be on it. We'll have to go and have a drink sometime!! - Erin

  7. My hangover breakfast of choice is a toasted ham and cheese croissant and as I dragged my sorry corpse into work last week I defected from my usual, Fernandez and Wells, to give these guys a try. The croissant was better - so good. All the staff seemed to take great care in what they were doing; it was good to see.

  8. I've passed this place so many times, but never ventured inside. That will have ot change.

  9. Great review of a great cafe - I also had the ham and cheese french toast. Man, it's good! Although I didn't feel like eating for the rest of the day. You may be interested in a central London coffee map I made:


  10. sorry but the shaggy dog manning the pannini press needs a shave AND a haircut. I´d be afraid of what might end up in my sandwich/coffee. That pic SO put me off the place....

  11. Luiz, and so I went there, this midday! For a sandwich and coffee. I'll write up a report on my blog!
    Hope you're having a good weekend xox

  12. @ Jessica - thank you for your message, and indeed the vintage, mismatched cups are a very nice touch.

    @ Su-Lin - thanks Su-Lin, if you are a coffee fan, I think F&G is a must in Soho.

    @ Laura - thanks Laura. What makes F&G different from other independent cafes is its strong British identity - you see that in the style of cakes and buns they bake, the coffee they use and make, and the other goodies they sell in the Cafe.

    @ Gail - I DMed them on Twitter to ask your question and the answer is YES - they do have free wifi, just ask for the password at the counter.

    @ Pumpkin - glad you made to F&G, I look forward to reading your review!

    @ Cross the Pond - Erin, it was great meeting you too despite not having much time to talk to you (we were sitting at opposite ends of the table). Really hope we will catch up again soon. Thanks for the kind words about my blog.

    @ Lizzie - ham and cheese toastie is a classic hangover cure, F&G's is made even more special by the addition of mustard honey, so good!

    @ Mzugu - ahh, glad to hear that. Let me know what you think when you do get to try it Mzugu.

    @ LondonRob - hey mate, thanks for sharing that link, very interesting post. I will post a link to this write up to link with yours. Thanks.

    @ Winesleuth - don't be cheeky Denise! ;0)

  13. THANK YOU for recommending F&G! We finally went it the capuccino alone was worth it. I had the sweet french toast and it was amazing. It's definitely going to be a favourite! :)~Yelly

  14. After 16mm - a Brazilean run independent on D'Arby street close by closed down, we've been in search of a new quiet gem of a coffee shop in central London. Went to F&G on the strength of your review and that of another blogger. The day we went the variety of food you seemed to encounter was not present and the lack of actual menus slightly disconcerting.
    However the charm of the place in terms of decor and the laid back but efficient staff means we will be back. And a definite thumbs up to the french toast!

  15. Did you say chelsea buns? I AM SO THERE!


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