THE SCENE First impressions are good. The Black Penny is on the fringe of Covent Garden where dozens of coffee shops ply their trade. Even so the place is packed. It could easily be the exclusive preserve of the hip 20 somethings, but instead it’s relaxed and welcoming with a wide spread of ages and styles. The concept of the place is built around London’s coffee shops of yore, colloquially known as penny universities. Although there’s an impressive array of magazines and books, on my visit people seemed more into the conversation and food. Still, it’s nice to have the option of a quick read.
THE GRUB At weekend’s brunch is king. The menu is inventive without being over the top; think crispy confit duck, sweet potatoes, baby spinach and egg or Özdemir Pasha, a dish of halloumi, butter bean hummus, sumac and tomato and parsley salad. For the most part the food is tasty and well executed but two things niggled; the chef’s a bit heavy on the salt and the puddings – a brownie and bread and butter pudding – were disappointing.
BEHIND THE BAR Coffee’s the star and it’s a star that shines very brightly at the Black Penny. The coffee supplier Alchemy is a good start and the baristas know how to prepare coffee. The flat white had just the right depth and flavour whilst the white Americano was solidly good. The menu also features matcha and cold brew, if you fancy trying something a bit different.
Bill please brunch items from £4.50-£11.50, sides £3, coffees around £2-£3.
VERDICT: Great coffee, good atmosphere, inventive and interesting food. Would’ve been a top pick if it hadn’t been let down by the sweet stuff at the end, so we won’t hold that against them.
ADDRESS: The Black Penny, 34 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden WC2B 5AA.
TUBE Holborn or Covent Garden.
OVERALL STAR RATING 4 out of 5.