Alpino Cafe @ Chapel Market, N1

Alpino Cafe, which is situated at the west end of Chapel Market, is a much loved local eatery. The establishment is a stone’s throw from our office and Hubbie and I often eat our lunch there.

Today’s special was chicken pie with vegetables and mashed potato…

Their portion was generous as usual. Nothing can beat a piping hot chicken pie with gravy when the weather outside is chilly and blustery, we wholeheartedly agreed as we ferried the piping hot mashed potato to our mouths.

The family-run eatery has a particular charm…

And their charm is derived from their individuality. The place has the air of history in a quirky way.

One of their walls are adorned with photos of football stars from mainly the 90’s and another one is a shrine for sports cars, notably mainly Italian’s and professional boxers. Their tables and chairs are recently updated and they are arranged rather tightly so the diners are almost elbow-to-elbow during lunchtime. Their extensive menu offers vast choices – from standard English breakfast to American pancake, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, gnocchi, lasagne, omelette, jacket potato, meat dishes such as chicken escalope and salad, etc. Plus they have special dishes which change daily. During the peak time, the service can be a bit slow but no one, especially the regulars, seems to mind. A team of waitresses, who I guess they are sisters, come in and out of the kitchen at a brisk pace, delivering the plates of food or clearing away the tables. Behind the chilled cabinets by the front door with cured meats and cheese for take-away sandwiches, an old lady, who I assume an owner of the cafe, manages the till. She calculates the bill without the help of a pocket computer no matter how long the addition may be and it sounds a treat every time I hear her doing the math with her native Italian. It is like a chirpy cheerful bird singing!

Sometimes, Hubbie and I buy our lunch from chains like Itus and Pret A Manger. It is because we are particularly busy on certain days and we rather scoff sandwich at the desk. However, the recent environmental issues such as plastic pollution make us contemplate if our habit of buying lunch at chain stores is damaging the environment. Of course, we do our best to recycle those plastic containers responsively. But would it be better if we don’t rely on disposable plastics such as lids and bottles altogether?

‘It’s win-win for both! Don’t you agree?’ While I munched on my chicken pie, I confided to Hubbie.

I meant was by having lunch at local restaurants such as Alpino’s, we weren’t producing any plastic waste. And we were also supporting local businesses which had to swallow a huge hike of the annual business rate by the Islington Council. What not to like!

Beside all the aforementioned benefits, we would enjoy our lunchtime together more because there would be no interruption by e-mails or phones. Let’s step back to the time when we had a proper lunch break, Hubbie and I agreed…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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