Café Z Bar, Stoke Newington
58 Stoke Newington High Street
020 7275 7523
by Orva Easy
It was alone and shamefaced that I slunk into the Z-bar, armed only with an oversized newspaper to protect me from my monstrous hen-party hangover. It was already packed, even on the wrong side of Sunday lunchtime. I had barely brought my gin-crossed eyes to focus before I was hustled by the waitress. Set 15 please: halloumi, mushrooms, spicy sausage, fried egg, salad, Turkish bread. Tea. And a mixed juice. God. Please.
The tea appeared first, in a stupid trendy mug. Its spectacularly badly-designed handle was perfectly round, highly glazed and tubular, which meant that the middle finger crooked underneath slid inexorably towards the scalding hot cup every time I picked it up. It was infuriating. And you couldn’t stop it. I hate those mugs! Apoplexy threatened as I struggled in vain with burning fingers. Bread arrived, a vast basket of the stuff as big as the table. The mixed juice looked like it came out of a bilge pump. I left it to settle. The breakfast itself was carefully arranged on the stark white plate like a Bloomsbury still-life, the sausage a saucy salami-pink, balanced on the other side by three golden-tinged slices of halloumi, a cluster of button mushrooms gleaming between them.
Ah, halloumi! It was everything it ought to be – mouth-fillingly buttery and pleasingly squeaky on the teeth. Juicy, gamey sausages with a hint of spice cut through the rich, cloudy egg, though it tasted a bit disgusting in a forkful with the mushrooms. Which explains why you don’t get mushrooms much in Turkey.
I perked up, enjoying my tingling billiousness. I drank my scum-topped but actually rather nice mixed juice and felt healed by a decent, if now slightly cool cup of builders’. I will be back next week. But I’m taking my own damned mug.