Cakeline (a sort of dateline for cafés)

I've been going to a few cafés of late so thought I'd reveal their credentials to you in one go.

Café #1...Trendy, playful and ready to please. This nostalgic café is big on style.

The Breakfast Club. I've already posted about these guys and their delicious brunch offerings, however this time I sampled their pancakes (mainly because it was Pancake Day!). This café is fun-loving and knows how to satisfy a grumbly tummy with their American diner-style menu. You'll find their Soho, Hoxton and Angel branches all get pretty busy, but it's for a good reason.

English breakfast tea

Banana, Nutella and ice cream pancakes

Café #2: An arty type, this modest lover of vintage decor is the reliable type.

The Candid Café in Angel is a hidden gem. Behind Angel station off of City Road, this café is above the small Candid Arts venue. Full of intriguing paintings and vintage furniture, it's a lovely place to unwind, stop off with a friend, have a relaxed meeting or just sit and read a book for a while. They serve food all day and also have some lovely cakes on display (yes, I had one). Good and dependable this café certainly is.

Coffee and blueberry cheesecake

Café #3: Host to a busy lifestyle, this one's all about satisfying in a short-stop, no questions asked sort of way.

The Fleet River Bakery is tucked away behind Kingsway Road in Holborn and doesn't fail to attract a crowd. Selling Monmouth coffee and a lovely array of teas, along with some dangerously tasty cakes, (the peanut butter cheesecake in particular is a must!) There's freshly made salads, tarts and quiches if you're in the mood to take it one step further with lunch.

Eight butterflies green tea (cranberry, rose petals & chrysanthemum)

Bargain Bite - Pie Hopes

Yeah, yeah, ok. I admit it's an awful pun but a valid one if you'll allow me to continue...

I managed to kill two birds with one stone and combine this month's Bargain Bite with British Pie Week!

The Punch Tavern in Fleet Street is a pub mostly inhabited by city workers by the looks of it but if you're heading along for some food it is worth enduring it. For a Thursday night it wasn't too busy and by about 8:30 it was comfortably full of a more manageable mix of people.

This pub has won a number of awards and most recently won a 'People's Choice Award' for their chicken and fennel pies. (As well as a few more for different recipes in 2010) So it seemed a great place to head down to for British Pie Week. Usually the Punch Tavern offer a chosen dish on the menu for £5 on a weekly basis, and seeing as they're known for their pies plus it being a special week for the cases of saucy, chunky comfort food, it was surely a match made in heaven.

There was a different meat or veg pie option each day of the week. Friday is the day they offer the award winning chicken and fennel pie, but when I went along steak & ale pie was on the menu and I can never pass up this combination. So steak and ale pie it was.

The pie was served on a mound of mashed potato and accompanied by carrot, broccoli and cauliflower. The gravy was almost fruity but still savory enough to match the gravy in the pie. The pastry was shortcrust rather than the showy puff variety which made it all the more appealing. It encased the filling the whole way round, so you don't feel cheated like with ones in ramekins topped with a lid of puff pastry. You know, a bit like when a woman takes off her padded bra and the reality isn't quite what was expected? Yeah, that.

The pastry itself was lovely and crisp the whole way round, with no soggy bottom! The only thing that was a bit of a let down was that I initially presumed the pies were made on site, but they're actually brought in from suppliers. There was even a questionnaire to fill in about the quality of said pies and whether they were worth purchasing in supermarkets. I think they were made by Dee's Pies - so watch this space if they appear on the shelves.* Despite this, the pie was great all the same and the filling was packed with juicy and tender chunks (and I mean chunks) of meat. I was expecting the portions or size of the dish to be smaller as it was on offer, but it was very generous and rather filling (no pun intended this time), especially just for five quid.

* It's ok don't panic! Dee's pies are made in-house, fresh every day. (Thanks for the update, Dave). This makes it all the more impressive and worth visiting the Punch Tavern to try out the pies!

The pub on the whole had a relaxed atmosphere and quite grand Victorian decor. They do a range of events from a pub quiz to poker evening to wine tasting as well. A table next to us had a fold-out poker table and were casually playing in the corner with platters of food. Oh - and they show various sports events on their TVs as well, which is always an added bonus for a pub.

All in all the Punch Tavern is a really good pub with a hearty and tasty menu. Prices are reasonable, the staff are friendly and attentive and they do great classic British pies!