St. Ali @ Clerkenwell Road

オーストラリア・メルボルンの人気カフェ・St. Aliが、つい最近クラーケンウェルに上陸、カフェブロガーたちの話題の的になっている。自称コーヒー好きの方々の賞賛の嵐の中で、へそ曲がりの私は少し辛口批評を。

店名の「St. Ali」は、14世紀にコーヒーの医学的作用に着目し、エチオピアからイエメンのMocha(コーヒー豆のモカはこの地名に由来)にコーヒーを持ち帰り、初めてコーヒーを飲料として広めた(エチオピアではコーヒー豆を噛んで消費していた)、伝説の「コーヒーの聖人」であるAli ibn Umar al-Shadhiliの名を省略したものだとのこと(参考サイト)。でも、「St.(Saint)」は一般的に、キリスト教の聖人という意味で使われるから、イスラム教の人は気にならないのかなあ?宗教には詳しくないので分からないけれど。

1、2階と2フロアあるカフェは、天井に張り巡らされたむき出しのパイプに赤いレンガ壁、スティール製の椅子、年季の入った木の床に、入口と店の奥には巨大な焙煎機械と、倉庫のようなたたずまい。2時過ぎに行ったのに人で溢れ、昼間だというのに薄暗い店内の(写真は明るく調整)、陽当たりのいい特等席は他の客に占領されている。

「classic Aussie brunch tucker: a bit Mediterranean, a bit Middle Eastern, a bit Asian, all inventive(オーストラリアの典型的なブランチ:ちょっと地中海風、ちょっと中東系、ちょっとアジア風の創造料理」(Time Out誌評)という、All day breakfast(いつでも注文できる朝食)とランチのメニューは、CaravanBrawnと同様、クリエイティブすぎてどうもイメージがわかない。しかもVive le pain(パンを生きろ?!)やMexican cousin(メキシコ人のいとこ)と言うネーミングも、気を利かせたつもりなんだろうけれど、訳が分からない。さんざんメニューとにらめっこした後、MはItalian Job(材料は忘れてしまったけど、フォカッチャにモッツァレラチーズ、アーティチョーク?やチコリ?をのせたもの)、私はVive le pain(ベーコンとカラメルを絡めたクルミののったフレンチトースト)を注文。見た目も華やか、新鮮な材料を使って上手に作っているなと思った。Vive le painはちょっとクルミの甘みが強すぎて、後味が気になったけれど、Mは満足そう。

立派な焙煎機械やエスプレッソマシン、厳選したコーヒー豆と、コーヒーへの情熱と気合いは充分だけれど、MいわくAllpressのエスプレッソの方が美味しいとのこと。食べ物もコーヒーも悪くないんだけど、何かが気にくわない。ウェブサイトにも御託を並べず、メニューや店内の写真、地図など、役立つ情報を載せてほしいところ。ちょっと意地悪過ぎる?

Popular Australian café/roaster from Melbourne, St. Ali opened its café in Clerkenwell this month, and café bloggers are all excited. Everyone talks about St. Ali so well, so I decide to go the opposite.

St. Ali’s website says that the name is short for Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili, known as the “patron saint of coffee”. Al-Shadhili is the legendary figure who is supposed to have brought the first coffee to Mocha in Yemen, after having discovered its medicinal qualities while in Ethiopia at the end of the 14th century. Coffee arabica grows naturally in the highlands of Ethiopia, and it was chewed there by the local people. The beans were then taken to Yemen where coffee was first made into a drink (reference site). But I wonder if calling him “Saint”, which is commonly used in Christianity, is right and may be offensive to Muslims?! I leave it, as I am not a specialist in religion.

The café consists of two floors and is finished in chic industrial style with silver pipes on the ceiling, brick walls, steel chairs, and worn-out wooden floor, and giant roasters stay at the entrance and on the back of the premise to prove that they are serious about coffee. It was after 2pm when we went there, but there were still a packed of people. Inside was rather dark (I made photos brighter) but the best seats next to the large windows were already taken.

Their food is “classic Aussie brunch tucker: a bit Mediterranean, a bit Middle Eastern, a bit Asian, all inventive” (Time Out review), and their all day breakfast and brunch menu on clipboards were so creative and we were hardly able to visualize the dishes, like in Caravan and Brawn. As Time Out also points out, its “witty and funny” names of the dishes such as “Vive le pain” (live the bread?!) or “Mexican cousin” are rather irritating. After scrutinising the menu for a while, M chose Italian Job (I forgot the ingredients – artichokes? chicory? and mozzarella on Focaccia), and I got Vive le pain (French toast with back bacon and caramelised walnuts). Those dishes looked great, using fresh ingredients. M liked his dish, but the walnuts on my French toast was a bit too sweet and too much.

I can see their passion in coffee here and there in the café, like expensive roasters and espresso machine and their carefully selected coffee beans, but M said that he prefers a cup of espresso at Allpress. Surely St. Ali’s food and coffee are not bad, but it didn’t click with me for some reason. Also I don’t like their website, with no useful information like photo, menu or map… Am I too strict??

5 responses to “St. Ali @ Clerkenwell Road

  1. Pingback: Workshop Coffee Co @ Clerkenwell Road | everydaylife.style

  2. Pingback: Granger & Co @ Westbourne Grove | everydaylife.style

  3. Pingback: Restaurants by ceciliathomas92 - Pearltrees

  4. Pingback: Breakfast & Brunch Secrets London Guide | everydaylife.style

  5. longblack

    Ehime, TF です。
    最近、メールさせていただきました。
    私も同感です。豪州10年在住してました。

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s