Cafe Oto, E8 3DL
- 18-22 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL
- Cafe: Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5pm; Sat: 9:30am-5pm; Sun: 10:30am-5pm (stays open later on all days when no evening event; no food on Sundays)
It sits in a large open space at the bottom of an office block, with basic furniture and a bare concrete floor. A small display of records and books for sale sits near the door, with a bar next to it for ordering food and drinks. Tables are widely spaced throughout, and there's more seating in two rows along the pavement outside.
During the day it functions as a cafe, but it puts on music events in the evening. The focus is particularly on experimental or avant-garde music, though they also host talks and screen videos. The programme is available on the website.
When Ewan visited in January 2009 they had Meantime Helles and Cristal lager on draught, as well as bottled beers and ciders (including a range of Pitfield ales) and wine. Coffee and tea were also available.
Food is provided by "Persian inspired" caterers Zardosht, and as of July 2018 is available noon-4pm Mon-Fri and 10:30am-4pm Sat.
In July 2018, Kake tried the braised chickpeas with kale, tomato, olive oil, and soft boiled egg served on hummus with warm flatbread (£9.50) photo. They asked me if a poached egg would be OK instead of a boiled one; this turned out to have been poached in the stew, and I'm not entirely sure I got a whole one. The stew was fine, though there was very little kale in evidence; the most prominent vegetable was thin-skinned red peppers, and there was also some very nice charred onion that I wished there had been more of. The serving style, on a bed of decent enough hummus, worked well. The bread was mostly fine, but the thinner parts had been over-grilled and were hard and chewy. Overall, it felt a pound or two overpriced for what it was.
Accessibility: No steps to get in. The tables inside are fairly widely spaced. There's a step to the gents', but it's step-free to the ladies' and accessible toilets.
- Photo of the lunch menu in July 2018 (though this changes frequently)
- Des de Moor's review
- Guardian article