I’m instantly won over by the mismatched stripy canvas deckchairs outside Bread & Circus Wholefoods Canteen. We lounge and luxuriate in the sun for a few minutes before deciding that sitting upright will be much more conducive to comfortable eating – and that’s why we’re here, after all. Inside, this cafe takes up a light, airy corner of an as yet otherwise almost empty warehouse-style space – apart from the coffee shop serving Campos coffee next door.
The overwhelming impression is of an abundance of produce everywhere: in front of the long counter there are stacked up boxes of oranges and tomatoes, hessian sacks of organic potatoes and trays of avocados. The counter itself is also brimming with bottles and jars and boxes of yummy things, punctuated by the odd aubergine or head of garlic, and a display of beautifully packaged dark chocolate bars flavoured with lavender, orange or earl grey tea. There’s a jungle of succulents and pink-green foliage in bottles and jars as well, which also adorn all of the long, rustic wooden tables, and a bookcase full of more produce, propped up against which is a 10kg bag of Callebaut Belgian chocolate.
The images formed make me think of the old Dutch masters, decadent in their saturated colour and overflowing plenty.
There’s a breakfast menu which we don’t even look at. For lunch the choice is mainly between a range of meat-free salads which you can have alone or in combination in half-, full- or share-plate size, and sandwiches which do include various proteins and come deconstructed (I mean that ironically!) with an assortment of salady bits and two slices of sourdough bread in a cardboard container as a DIY affair. None of us has the salads (next time, for sure), three of us have sandwiches – beautiful rare roast beef with horseradish yoghurt for one and tart, creamy ash-rolled Meredith chevre with basil oil for the other two…
…and one has black pepper winter congee with organic Inglewood chicken, biodynamic brown rice and ginger.
Everything is so fresh and ripe and generously seasoned – and utterly delicious. The others all also have soy chai latte served from a big soup canister on the counter, sweet and spicy and gingery.
Clare had promised us huge spelt cookies with dark chocolate and sea salt but sadly today they don’t have any, so we settle for coffee from next door, and some of the lavender chocolate Ann has bought, to keep us awake for the rest of the afternoon. Do we really have to go back to the office?
Bread & Circus
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria
Visited 18 September 2012