New Broadway Market restaurant revives 1950’s Italian ‘Formica’ cafes

A new caf�, bar and dining room is taking the London restaurant scene back to basics – but in a good way.

Inspired by classic Italian “Formica” cafes of the 1950s, Broadway Market’s Market Caf� serves a modestly priced menu of London-Italian food and drink. It’s simple but bold fare with modern slant.

Steak and kidney pudding for two, hand-cut tagliatelles with meat sauces, truffled rarebit, jam doughnuts and hot chocolate, and home made Hackney Downs honey ice cream are all there and the caf� serves breakfast lunch and dinner six days a week.

The caf�, housed in the building vacated by French eatery La Vie En Rose, is split into a 60-seat dining room and a more informal 45-seat bar and caf�, plus there is plenty of outdoor seating for the warmer months.

Proprietor Hugo Warner says: “Often dismissed as greasy spoons and poor relations to their continental counterparts, the working-class, Formica caf�s once lubricated and nourished a whole postwar generation of writers, artists, musicians and crime lords, and galvanised British cultural life.


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“These places were where ordinary people could afford to eat and experience what was in its day exotic food, the first espresso-based coffee and handmade ice cream. We will know we are successful when the whole local community wants to eat and drink with us.”

The menu and kitchen are in the talented hands of chef James Adams, formerly of St John, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and the River Cafe, who will be using fresh and seasonal ingredients to create an evolving menu.

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Monday, closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 9am-11pm; Friday and Saturday, 9am-12pm; Sunday 10am-10pm.

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