Friday, 16 October 2015

A brief stop at the Cereal Killer Cafe in Brick Lane

The Brick Lane Cereal Cafe: a pleasant surprise

Walking down Brick Lane one evening, we found ourselves by the notorious Cereal Killer Cafe.

Out of curiosity, and partly as a gesture of support following the recent attack (about which more later), we popped in to have a look. We found ourselves in a small, well-proportioned shop with a few tables at ground level (there were more in the basement). The walls were lined with cereal boxes, which produced a colourful, decorative and attractive effect. The cafe was manned by two charming, enthusiastic and knowledgable chaps, and American and an Australian.

As the name of the cafe would indicate, they serve cereal. Anything from an enormous international selection. You can have it with you choice of milk (skimmed, semi-skimmed, full cream, etc), and a selection of extra toppings. You can have a mixture of cereals, and there is a list of cereal cocktails on offer too.

They also do the most spectacular hot chocolate drinks, extravagant foamy, overflowing concoctions . We didn't have any cereal that evening, but had the salty caramel and peanut butter hot chocolate. Yes, they really did look like the publicity shots below.

While we were working our way through them, a bunch of American undergraduates came in, and I took this video which gives a feel for the place.

Breakfast cereals are in themselves fascinating, if you think about it. Totally artificial creations, and one of the wonders of food technology. I'm not that keen on them for breakfast: I find I get hungry too soon afterwards. But they are nice as an occasional snack or for dessert. If I buy a box, I know it will probably not get finished, so a real cafe is a rather good idea, as far as I'm concerned.

Detractors have remarked that it's expensive, but eating out always costs more than eating at home. Prices range from £2.50 for a small bowl of British cereal, to £4.40 for a large bowl of Foreign, and slightly more for some cereal cocktails. Toppings are 60 pence. A double espresso is £2.00. Not dirt cheap, not outrageous, comparable to a cafe in the area, I think, and probably less than an evening in the pub.

Recently the cafe came under attack in the course of a demo by a bunch of left wing anarchist 'class warriors', who defaced the exterior and attempted to break into the cafe which was full of customers at the time, including some young children. It was a nasty unpleasant affair. Fortunately, no-one was hurt.

The cafe was totally the wrong target: a small, independent, crowdfunded business, started by a pair of twins from Belfast. It's cheaper than many other places in the same street, and as someone has pointed out, the cereal there costs less than at the well-known Pret-a-Manger chain. In an area with a large Muslim population, it doesn't serve alcohol, pork or meat, so it's more inclusive than many other nearby outlets. Interestingly, the nearby chains and corporate establishments were untouched during the demo, which leads me to wonder if there was more to the affair than met the eye.

Prior to my visit, I thought that a cereal cafe it was an amusing idea. However I was surprised by how much I liked it. It's a nice, friendly and fun place to stop by for a coffee, admire the marvels of food technology, and try some of their exotic products, like the one below, manufactured in Petaling Jaya (Malaysia), for export to Hong Kong.

I'm definitely coming back.

Cereal Killer Cafe
139 Brick Lane
London E1 6 SB
Open Sun-Wed 8 am - 8 pm, Thu - Sat 8 pm - 9 pm

(There's also a branch at the Stables market in Camden: see website for details)

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