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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

St. Ali, Clerkenwell

The initial hit, the toasty feelgood aroma of coffee beans, fresh ground in a gargantuan mill, lifts the senses the minute you fall into this daytime cafe/ canteen/ wine bar a few doors down from Giant Robot at what was once a proto-Clerkenwell bar before it bit the Dust.  I'm also liking its casual pine and brick refectory-style pose and a feature living garden wall. Easy-drinking pocket-money-priced wines include  frisky summer berry Californian merlot (£16), spunky  Aussie pinot grigio and, from  by the glass offer of ten, a patrician rioja crianza at £7.10 a pop. Packing a punch at 7.3% ABV, Southwark-brewed Kernel IPA is one of various ales to try. Gwynnie Paltrow-friendly cereals and fruit-based items are part of an impressive build-your-own all-day brekkie offer that includes kippers, French toast and corn fritters with eggs, spinach, halloumi and kasundi. Fresh grilled sardines, caramelised sweet potato tart with herb salad and rib-eye toasted sourdough sandwich with aïoli (£12.50) are part of the lunchtime offer for peripatetic iPads, tablets, MacBook Pros and old school types with their noses buried in The Guardian. In Clerkenwell, that's standard issue.  
27 Clerkenwell Rd EC1 http://stali.co.uk/uk/

See similar reviews at http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/