Catalyst Coffee Roasters + Cafe
Different coffee shops suit different things. There’s the one where you shamelessly siphon electricity from, the one that has an excellent Spotify playlist with sometimes surly staff, and another that’s a favourite for its comfortable vibe and generous carrot cake. Catalyst Café is all and none of the above. This place is a coffee shop in the same way that Nelson Mandela was a decent bloke. Undeniably true but, also, undeniably missing the point.
The reason for this hyperbole is that the quality of Catalyst’s food, coffee and service means that it can feel reductive to simply call it a café. But that’s what it is. A better way to put it is that Alex Gkikas and his team are pushing the ceiling of what you should expect from a café and coffee roasters for their stylish corner spot in Holborn. Not only does Catalyst roast and grind its own beans—we can personally vouch for the decaf, but caffeine-heightened anxiety prevents us serious bean analysis—but it has also created its own groundbreaking condiment in the form of their coffee sriracha, as well serving a superb Greek-leaning daytime menu, plus bar snacks and drinks on Friday evenings. It’s a fantastic place that is literally and creatively fuelled by people who, quite simply, love to eat, drink, and share.
Things from the kitchen lean heavily into the owner’s Greek heritage, with their chicken flatbread one of many outstanding dishes served from midday until 3pm. Oregano-heavy Greek salad is paired with tyrokafteri, a silky smooth feta sauce, their elastic, chewy homemade flatbread, and flecks of impeccably grilled chicken, both bronzed, salted skin and olive oil-doused white meat. Alternatively their merguez sausage sandwich with homemade brown sauce and a pile of skinny fried potatoes is a glorious towering mess. Or, if you’re an earlier riser, grappling with their monstrous bacon and egg sandwich (on doorstop-sliced pan de mie bread layered with coffee sriracha mayo) is a surefire way of sending yourself straight back to bed.
Expertise is one thing but it’s really Catalyst’s unerring obsession that has made the café so popular with regulars working from their laptop, on their lunch break, or simply hankering for some of London’s best food and drink in one place. Whether it comes in the form of a daytime special filo-crusted macaroni pie or a bottle of Xino Nero sparkling water specially sourced by Alex, no other coffee shop is operating at the same level of universal fervour as this place. We can only hope that it’s a catalyst for like-minded setups around London.
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Wedged between doorstop slices of toasted pan de mi bread this is a coffee sriracha mayonnaise-smeared breakfast of the most traditionally British variety. There's a gooey golden egg thrown in their for good measure as well.
A surefire way of creating a must-eat dish is to follow the guiding light of the golden arches. Name and slice of American cheese aside, Catalyst's version is a completely different kettle of fish. The goujons are perfectly crisp and a tangy house coleslaw is the perfect crunch and sauce on top.
Tyrokafteri, a kind of chilli-laden feta spread-cum-condiment, is one of the many outstanding layers of this dish. There's that, the chewy homemade flatbread, salty and crispy-skinned chicken, plus padron peppers and a parsley, carrot, and cabbage salad. It's fresh and delicious and you should absolutely get a bowl of coffee sriracha on the side.