North London Food & Culture

So you’ve never been to… Saint Espresso, Kentish Town

The latest in our series taking a wry look at neighbourhood faves old and new

Interiors: Minimal, you know the score. Photo: PR

Age: Oh, about a year. But the owner has other branches in Marylebone and Islington, as well as the original Leyas cafe down in Mornington Crescent.

Previous incarnation: The fought-over site had a glorious run as the Somewhere Over Knowhere bakery and café. Before that it was longstanding retro caff Mamma Mia.

Where exactly? Right next to the Assembly House. On the other side is all-day diner Neighbour.

So what goes on there? Latte-drinking and laptop-staring (especially, inexplicably, at the long window counter, where the sun streams in and the busy street beyond is rather distracting). There’s also a petite coffee-based store, where you can buy beans and various high or low-tech gadgets to fuel your habit.


What do I eat? We’ve gobbled the odd decent sandwich or two – usually brimming with #avocado – in the last few months. But the other day we tried a hot dish. A colourful plate of quinoa fritters (£8.50) was a delight visually: a pile of crispy patties, made with texture and chew, lay adorned with swirls of paprika aioli, and crowned with an orange-yolked poached egg and sweet, sticky tomato jam. Oh, and did I mention creamy avocado? Faultlessly ripe, it was garnished with vitamin-rich spinach.

A hit: quinoa fritters. Photo: PR

What do I drink? Well, cheapskates that we are, we drank tap water. But we made up for it with a double espresso to finish – a really lovely number from Guatemala, all toffee-like crema with a hint of berries – and a pastel de nata, its custard slightly too stiff.

The interior? Minimal. You know the score – bare bricks, pendant lighting, a counter heaving with pastries and those ubiquitous energy balls. It’s all quite zen though, in a way.

What’s the service like? Totally friendly, like I was a regular (I’m not). However, the food took a while to arrive, so this isn’t one to pop in if you have a spare ten minutes – unless you choose a pre-made sarnie. One other point? My dish was a bit lukewarm, which didn’t matter too much, but made me wonder if it had sat on the pass for a while – if there is a pass.

Do say: “The best coffee in Kentish Town, no question.”

Don’t say: “Where’s Bear + Wolf?”

Find Saint Espresso at 296 Kentish Town Road NW5, more here.

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.