Housed in a charming little shop on Ironmonger Lane right in the heart of the Square Mile, City Càphê has been steadily garnering a loyal lunchtime following since it opened up 10 months ago. It's not difficult to see why - this place is the real deal.
Classic Pork Bánh Mi used an appropriate baguette, with a thin, crusty layer on the outside and a soft interior. There was a tad too much veg however, making it a bit difficult to taste the meat and pate. Better balanced was the Chargrilled Pork Bánh Mi, thanks to the stronger flavour of the meat. The tasty chargrilled pork, complete with requisite smoky flavour, can also be had with Bún - Vermicelli salad or Com - Jasmine Rice, both of which I preferred to the sandwich.
Beef Pho was authentic, using the right kind of thin noodles, with thinly sliced and tender steak and brisket in a delicious broth. It was slightly weaker in flavour than the best versions out there but was nevertheless a very good and appetising rendition.
Other items on offer, all of which I will no doubt be sampling over the coming weeks and months, include spring and summer rolls, bun hue – spicy lemongrass noodle soups, lemongrass beef, again available with rice, vermicelli, or in a baguette, and of course, Vietnamese coffee.
Unsurprising given its location, City Càphê’s primary business is the takeaway trade, but there is (limited) seating on location too.
In a nutshell…
This is, by a country mile, my favourite weekday lunch spot. But City Càphê is not just a good option for lunch by the reduced standards we invariably apply to venues near our place of work, the quality of City Càphê’s food would hold its own even on Kingsland Road. It is everything the appalling, unfathomably popular chain Pho isn’t.
17 Ironmonger Lane, London, EC2V 8EY
Average Price: £5-£10