I had heard about this Alley Cafe place but I was not really sure where it was. Walking up from the Market Square past the Bell Inn I saw a sandwich board with a lounging cartoon cat on it pointing up the narrow alleyway of Cannon Court. “Aha so that is where it is!”. The Alley Cafe is a meatless zone, by which I mean that it is primarily vegetarian and vegan, so it may surprise you, especially if you have followed my previous food hunting adventures, that I was planning on taking lunch there. To be honest although I do tend to like a good burger, sausage, or other meat based sandwich I had heard so many good things about the Alley Cafe that I was prepared to give it a whirl.
The Alley cafe was right up the end of the Alley Way about 100 yds up, to get there you walk along passed a quite quirky, brightly coloured, wall mural featuring a large orange alley cat. Outside there are a few metallic tables in the passage way but being so cold I could not see them being too popular this particular lunchtime, I could see them being fought over during the summer time though. The cafe itself is upstairs and is a small bar area with the options to sit at the bar, on some sofas or at a table. It was mostly full but still quiet and the staff were warm and friendly.
The menu unsurprisingly is full of interesting options in their “Good Morning” section (the breakfast section) I was almost drawn to the “Alley Breakfast” which is described as ‘the ultimate veggie breakfast with alley style baconesque, sausage, hash brown, grilled tomato, mushroom, organic beaked beans, scrambled eggs and toast’. I was not really that hungry though and thought I should just restrict myself to a sandwich
Having said that I then ended up choosing to have a “Happy Hemp Burger” which was described on the menu as “a crunchy hemp seed patty seared until crisp and served in a granary bap filled with salad, ketchup and mayo, potato wedges and burger relish” for £6.95. It certainly looked the part. I was quite intrigued to see what the hemp seed patty was going to be like. The patty itself was not quite as crispy as expected, it tasted OK and I added some of the really tangy burger relish into the bun to add a little more flavour. Most of the textural bite came from the fresh and crunchy lettuce and the really good granary bap which was full of assorted seeds and had a really nice nutty bite. There were also some fresh salad leaves on top which gave another dimension to the fresh bite. The potato wedges were really good, solid and freshly made, they went really well with the burger relish as a dip. It was a pretty good effort.
The Alley Cafe website describes that
is to create an atmosphere that combines the style of a bar with the relaxed feel of a european café. we aim to provide imaginative vegetarian and vegan food without having a negative impact on the earth.”
I would say that based on what I ate and experienced they are doing a pretty good job of that. The sandwich I had was flavourful, interesting and yes I would say, even though it was a veggie burger, it was an imaginative used of hemp seeds to make a burger patty. As a devout meat eater I would happily eat here and would probably not miss my meat too much.
I can see why the Alley Cafe has had good reviews and generated a buzz around it. I am sure though that they dont want us meat eaters invading the place eating up all their tasty snacks and bites. Too bad I just told my friends about it :-)
Located at 2A Cannon Court, Long Row, the nearest tram stops; The Old Market Square and the Royal Centre are probably equally close.