Do good London – the restaurants and cafes that are giving back.
From retraining ex-offenders to feeding the homeless and giving vulnerable youngsters a new direction in life, these London establishments are all places where you really can have your cake and eat it.
215 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 0LH
Run by two best friends from Hackney, Ali + Cemal (both who hail from Kurdistan originally) this cafe celebrates Middle Eastern cuisine with influences from Tel Aviv’s street food, Syria and Palestine, all with a East London touch. They donate 20% of their profits to Warchild UK as well as selling books for £5 all of which goes into the WarChild UK Charity Box.
What to order: The Damascus breakfast sounds epic, consisting of braised chickpeas and homemade hummus on top of pitta, merguez sausage from Meat N16, fried organic eggs, olives, fattoush salad with medjoul date.
The Brigade Bar + Kitchen
139 Tooley St, London SE1 2HZ
This London Bridge spot helps vulnerable adults in London who have been at risk of, or experienced homelessness, into work in the hospitality sector. People who’ve been through the programme, working alongside a permanent team of professional chefs, have ended up working for places as diverse as The Savoy or Brasserie Blanc. Open all day from breakfast through to dinner, weekend brunch and Sunday lunch, the menus here focus on British ingredients with dishes chosen to “give our apprentices perfectly rounded training”.
What to order: Homemade aged beef dripping focaccia and whipped yeasted butter on the winter a-la-carte sounds pretty good as do the Dartmoor lamb chops, pomegranate, labneh & chimichurri.
Cafe at Crisis
64 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT
We all know about Crisis at Christmas, but for the past 15 years the homeless charity has also been running this East London cafe where they offer practical hospitality and catering training to their members “whist serving fresh and socially conscious food and coffee”. Their own-brand coffee is an ethically sourced one created in conjunction with Volcano Coffee Works.
What to order: the breakfast avo on toast with chilli dukka is always a crowdpleaser, and there’s usually a frittata and soup on offer at lunchtimes worth trying.
The Canvas Cafe
42 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 5JL
Spitalfields is where you’ll find this vegan café whose socially responsible remit extends to providing hot meals for the local homeless and an events space for everything from superclubs that tackle food waste to happiness-promoting projects. In their words, they’re “a vision for the future, where hope and humanity are prioritised over profits.”
What to order: There’s all manner of good vegan dishes on the menu here from Spicy BBQ jackfruit burgers served with Holy F**k Mayo or maybe tofu scramble on Dusty Knuckle sourdough but we reckon their amazing vegan cakes are the must-try.
The above article by Catherine Hanly first published on hot-dinners.com in Jan, 2020.