Restaurants can conjure all kinds of emotions in people. These emotions include (and are not limited to): ecstasy, despair, amazement, melancholy, confusion, fury, intrigue and, when Peking duck is on the menu, faint arousal. Molly’s Café is all about comfort though. It’s a café in Hoxton where lots of other people - family people, hungover people, solitary people, romantic people, sultry people - are sitting and smiling and enjoying a slice of quiche in a scene of total, blissful contentment.
Molly’s is connected to the Museum of the Home. So, via osmosis - plus other things like fluffy crisp chips, scoops of homemade raspberry ripple ice cream and lovely affable service - it feels homely. Providing you grew up above the Anchor & Hope (the parent of Molly’s restaurant family), that is. The space - a white and airy canteen-ish room of semi-impermanence - isn’t exactly homely, but the outside patio makes up for it. And so does the menu. Butter-bathing potted shrimp and caesar salads that are 80% parmesan. Decadent chocolate ice cream sandwiches and mousse too. Nothing fancy, no faff. It’s all simple stuff. But done well, it’s the stuff that tastes so much better when served to you. Like a faultless steak haché with peppercorn sauce versus anything fancier. Only a pervert would ever say they seek solace in food that’s been sous vide. Sorry, but that just isn’t comfort.
Making this all-encompassing feeling happen is easier said than done, but Molly’s Cafe has made it feel effortless. Part of this is down to the fact it’s an all-day affair. As good for a bacon sandwich as it is for a mid-afternoon negroni, a luminous lunchtime plate of beetroot and goat’s curd or a ham and comté croque for the kids. It’s canteen-like in the best possible way. A casual place for a second or seven hundredth date, as much as it is for solo sandwich goers. It should be no surprise that Molly’s comes from a family of peerless pubs and restaurants. Because, inside or outside, you’re going to be very comfortable here.
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Onion and Parmesan Tart
A total quivering mess of a tart that oozes with cheese and onion and simply can’t wait to collapse into a heap in your mouth. This is a must. You can have it with two salads for an extremely perfect lunch or as a starter to a leisurely meal.
Potted Shrimps, Toast and Cucumber Salad
In the NYT’s recipe for potted shrimp, they write “here, diced shrimp are aggressively seasoned with anchovy, celery seed, lemon zest and garlic before being sealed into ramekins”. Naturally, this is not right. Some Gentleman’s Relish, yes. But whole anchovies? Not so sure. Anyway, this potted shrimp isn’t quite right either. A little too loose and floating in butter. The flavour though, is there.
Beetroot, Goat’s Curd and Olive Crumbs
A real Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of a plate of food. Vibrant, sweet beetroot with a scoop of goat’s curd and a handful of olive crumb on top. It will bring your table (and mouth) to life.
Steak Hache, Green Peppercorn Sauce and Chips
Their steak hache may not match Zedel’s legendary price, but it exceeds in all other areas. Pink in all the right places and with a green peppercorn sauce that will make your lips pucker. The chips here are also A grade.
Fruit, Whipped Cream and Meringue
Truly at the top table of desserts when done well as this one is. The perfect hybrid of health (strawberries, blackberries, whatever other nutritious fruit is to hand) and happiness (crunchy chewy meringue crowns on top of luscious whipped cream).
Baked Poppyseed Cheesecake and Strawberries
A monolithic slab of total summer to make up for the one you almost definitely haven’t had. It’s luxuriously creamy. It will make your eyes roll. And it’s got a soft biscuit base. A perfect pudding.