WHO amongst us hasn’t had that irreverent daydream, whilst chewing on an office biro and staring out the window, of quitting their job to open your own café. You’d spend your days chatting with locals, baking brownies and lazing in one of the many mismatching vintage sofas dotting your sun-filled yet cosy space.
Of course, in the dream, there wouldn’t be the years of planning, the huge financial investment and the stress of running a business with nothing more than year 11 business studies behind you. No, you’d just wake up one day and the café would be there, fitted out, run with military precision by a put-upon but passionate manager.
The only decision you’d have to make, besides which organic bakery to source your sourdough from, is choosing a café name. One which says, come on in — we are your welcome haven of relaxed sophistication, where the banana bread is always moist, the coffee never burnt and every newspaper from across the globe is available for your perusal.
A good name can define a café — it’s like a literary clue as to the experience the visitor is about to enjoy. And Tina, We Salute You does just that. It delivers exactly as the name promises.
Who is Tina? Why are we saluting her? Well, if Tina is the owner of this café, Coffee Cult is willing to stand to attention over the causal, laid-back, irreverent feel of this neighborly corner café in the backstreets of otherwise offensively hip Dalston.
As a local it’s nice to feel there are still some establishments where drinks aren’t served in jam-jars and you don’t need to adhere to the double denim and flatcap dress code to get through the front door. With small tables dotting the footpath in the morning sun, and a single large room filled with an oversized soft leather couch and one communal table, Tina’s has that lounge room feel to it. A place you could come for hours, or minutes, and no one would judge you either way.
What is it about some cafes that manage to put us to culinary shame just by taking a loose assortment of ingredients, and putting it on bread. Despite the simplicity, they somehow serve up a version of what you can conceivably make yourself — only 10 times tastier.
Tina’s seems to have this downpat — with a menu heavy with things on toast — baked beans, poached eggs, sardines, or cinnamon, but additional touches which turn it from things on toast, into a meal. The avocado on toast is served on thick slices of delicious sourdough, with chilliflakes and a tangy squeeze of lime. Fresh, simple, perfect.
It’s around the corner from where Coffee Cult lives, and we’re Australian. Ok, not good enough. Well, the barista is definitely Australian. And an artist recently featured on Tina’s walls was Australian. And Tina sounds like it is a name popular in 1970s Australia. And… no, that’s sufficient.
The kind of café you would open for yourself, if you wanted to eat well, drink good coffee, and soak up the footpath sun for hours on end with your neighbourhood friends. Tina, Coffee Cult salutes you.
Tina, We Salute You
47 King Henry’s Walk
London N1 4NH
By Alex Ivett