Café Bohemia, Hackney
2 Bohemia Place
0208 986 4325
by Cathy Latte
That long stretch of Mare Street can feel mightily oppressive. As you pass those big grey buildings it’s as if one by one they’re uprooting themselves out of their sockets, up onto your shoulders. Sirens rip through your nerves, dirt congeals on your shoes – you’re unsettled.
However, the distant vision of Mess café can always raise dwindling post-inebriated spirits, and seeing it ahead we two picked up pace. 20 metres on, my jaw slackened: the breakfast queue was out the door and ten people deep. Overcoming the need to fling myself to the pavement and beat the ground in despair I regained composure, muddled a decision and walked back to the best and nearest option I could think of: Bohemia, where I had been once before.
Bohemia should be great, tucked pleasantly away under a railway arch. Its big open door windows spill light everywhere, while trains rumble comfortingly above. But once inside I was met with a familiar wave of unease, like returning to a relationship that was disappointing first time round and finding that nothing has changed. Sure, the idiosyncrasies are still charming; their odd taste in music, their slapdash approach, and they do make a good cuppa. But something’s just not right.
I flinched as I watched the long, worrying sausage delivered to the table ahead and tried to steady my trembling hand. When our food eventually showed my toast was white, not brown, the tomato a no-show, and the greasy mushrooms contenders for the National Trust’s ‘ugliest vegetable’ competition. His bacon appeared thick as gammon, our eggs the wrong way round. The pitiful reason? That poached are made on the other side of the kitchen to everything else. Beaten and soiled, we could do nothing but pay our bill and limp back off into the bleak Hackney day.