Andronicas World of Coffee – Covent Garden

Reviewed on August 20th, 2014 by Dina

If you are looking for this coffee shop, then do not expect to see a sign saying Andronicas outside of it. Instead look for a neon lit Espresso Bar sign in the window.

After a lot of time walking up and down Floral Street several times and getting blank responses from neighbouring shops when asked if they knew where Andronicas was, we began to believe that Andronicas did not exist. So, we gave up and picked the closest coffee shop which had several signs outside of it displaying Espresso Bar.

It is not until we entered the cafe that there was a picture of a map and in the corner, the magical words of Andronicas World of Coffee appeared. The name Andronicas was everywhere inside the cafe: by the counter, on the coffee cups, on the menu but just nowhere on the outside. Not displaying the name of the coffee shop on the outside is a big mistake in our eyes.

Andronicas CounterAndronicasAndronicas Seating AreaAndronicas SandwichesAndronicas TeaAndronicas SconeAndronicas Map SignAndronicas Hot ChocolateAndronicas Counter DisplayAndronicas DisplayAndronicas DecorAndronicas Menu

To calm ourselves down from the frustration and feeling like we deserved a treat, we chose to have the Afternoon Tea. Luckily once we were in the cafe, things did improve. The staff gave us good efficient service. They were friendly apart from one member of staff. For the whole time that we were in Andronicas, this staff member made us feel like we should quickly have our food and drink and then leave.

The Afternoon Tea did not come with the traditional finger sandwiches. Instead, two little white rolls were served with the warm fillings. A sesame topped white roll had gammon ham, melted cheese and cucumber. Mozzarella, tomato and pesto made up the poppy seeded roll. Both of the sandwiches tasted delicious with the fresh fillings.

A big warm fruit scone came with an individual jar of strawberry jam, butter and a small bowl of clotted cream. It was served after we had finished our sandwiches.

The Earl Grey came in a small white teapot with a milk jug on the side. The hot chocolate was perfect. It was not too heavy. When we told the staff that the hot chocolate was slightly cold, they quickly replaced it was a hot one without any fuss.

Andronicas only has a couple of tables and a breakfast bar like area running through the middle of the cafe. Fresh flowers brightened the place. There were pastries on display at the counter. Shelves around the shop displayed various coffee makers and equipment.

The main reason we chose to come to Andronicas was that we thought that it would be quieter due to its location down the side street, even though it was in Covent Garden. The cafe was not too busy on this weekday but it is likely to be a lot more popular on the weekends.

In the end, Afternoon Tea at Andronicas was lovely; it was just a shame about our struggling quest to hunt its location out!

Andronicas World of Coffee, 28A Floral Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DP

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Joe Allen – Covent Garden

Reviewed on May 9th, 2013 by Dina

If you didn’t know that Joe Allen was along this very small quiet side street, it would not be the obvious place to look for a restaurant. It is hidden away from the all the main restaurants in Covent Garden.

Joe Allen is on the lower ground floor and the red brick walls leading to the the restaurant are full of framed posters. The same style of wall decor is continued throughout the whole of the dining area. The restaurant area is quite big with round wooden tables and there are a couple of alcoves as well. The service was good and the staff were friendly and professional.

The menu was interesting and varied with seasonal daily specials. The quinoa and garden pea fritters were just that, as in they were not mixed with any potato. Hence, the fritters had a very crumbly texture to them when they were cut into. The sweetness of the peas was lovely.

Joe Allen InteriorJoe AllenJoe Allen EntranceJoe Allen Quinoa and Pea FrittersJoe Allen Minted New PotatoesJoe Allen Apple and Blackberry Crumble Cake

The heritage carrots and parsnips that made up some of this dish were roasted nicely. This meal was a vegetarian’s delight! The pea cress and the mint and coriander sauce completed the dish. The side of minted new potatoes were a nice accompaniment to the meal!

Our meal ended with some dessert! The combination of crumble and cake is a match made in heaven! The apple and blackberry crumble cake was a big portion. A thin layer of crumble topped the chunky fruit pieces. The cake portion was soft and light. It was served with vanilla cream.

The only thing that did bother me with Joe Allen was that the restaurant was too dimly lit. It may have just been to the particular place that we had been seated. It was to the point where it seemed that we were eating our meal with the aid of a single tealight. We couldn’t really see what was on our plates and what we were actually eating. So it was a kind of a hit and miss with each mouthful, wondering which vegetables were on my fork!

Apart from that, everything was nice at Joe Allen’s from the quality and freshness of the food, the ambiance and the friendly staff!

Joe Allen, 13 Exeter Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7DT

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Sagar – Covent Garden

Reviewed on January 22nd, 2013 by Dina

When a friend came over from Europe in December, I got to see her briefly for an early evening catch up. But it was so short as time was a real factor. So I was happy that the next day both of us and her friend were free to do a relaxed Indian lunch in Covent Garden.

Sagar is a south Indian vegetarian restaurant. It has always looked busy whenever I have been past it. It made me wonder whether this was because of its central tourist location or if it was due to its food. It was nice to discover that it was more the latter.

Even though it was late lunchtime, the restaurant was busy and it was good that we had booked a table. The dining area is quite small although I am not sure if there is also an upper level. Light wooden tables and chairs matched with the light walls and flooring. Some of the tables are just that little bit too close together. The alcoves on the walls contained small statues.

Sagar Special UpmaSagar DecorSagar IdliSagar Paper Masala Dosa InsideSagar Brinjal BhajeeSagar Paper Masala DosaSagar Dosa FillingsSagar InteriorSagar Masala Dosa

The staff were friendly and gave us quite attentive service. It was fairly easy to get their attention when we needed anything.

The Idli were steamed rice dumplings and came as a portion of two. They were a lot bigger than expected. The Idli were served with sambar and coconut chutney. The soft, pillow-like Idlis were delicious with the accompaniments.

The Special Upma was really moist and very moreish. It is usually made with semolina. Sagar’s Special Upma was made with the addition of fresh tomatoes, cashews, peas, coriander and this came with a spicy chutney.

Even though we had Idli for the starter, we still felt like dosas for the mains. My friend really wanted the Paper Masala Dosa as it is not readily available in her country of residence. The Paper Masala Dosa came as a huge crispy cone! It was lucky that we sat at a table for four people so that we had the space for it. The mashed potato, onion and carrot filling was served on the side together with sambar and chutney.

The other dosa that we had and it was easier to handle was the regular Masala Dosa. This was served as a folded triangle and came already filled with the potato, onions and carrots.

Both the dosas were made from rice and lentils. They were equally tasty and even though they were big, we managed to munch our way through them!

For a bit of variety, we also had some rice and curry. The Brinjal Bhajee was a great dish made with aubergine, red and green capsicums and tomatoes. The vegetables were chunky and the delicate spices brought the whole dish together. Instead of plain rice, we had the Lemon Rice. This rice was made with peas and lemon juice. Having yoghurt with curry always works well and it was good that we had Raita with the meal.

Sagar gave us good quality, fresh tasting food. They have some good lunchtime offers and also on their menu is classic Thalis which gives you a complete meal with all the different dishes!

Sagar, 31 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5JS

Rating: ★★★★☆

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