Simplicity comes alive at the Crisis Skylight Cafe, with the delicious foods and casual décor bringing a laid-back attitude to this cafe that cooks for a good cause.
Located in the heart of Spitalfields, next door to the Crisis headquarters, the Crisis Skylight Café is a social enterprise which provides on-the-job training for homeless people and ex-offenders. It's easily spotted thanks to its bold red sign, and can be distinguished from the headquarters by the chalkboard outside. Inside, comfy colourful sofas with cushions sit in front of small basic coffee tables, colourful chairs brighten up the place and exposed brickwork and air vents give it a little bit of industrial chic. For a little escape time there are a range of London theatre leaflets, daily newspapers and even a large flat-screen TV to cast your eyes over. All around are reminders that you’re eating in a place with warm-hearted intentions, so expect Fairtrade posters and sugar sachets, government ‘Health for Life’ campaign posters, bags of Union coffee to buy and even artwork on the walls by Crisis Skylight artists – you feel good for eating here.
Easygoing music is played at a low level helping to create the laid-back mood. At lunchtimes the café gets pretty full with a mix of people, including work colleagues from nearby offices, couples, lone diners and friends having a quick catch up. The staff aren’t exactly jovial, but they’re still very efficient and happy to help.
On a chalkboard behind the ordering counter, a range of warm meals are on offer including jacket potatoes with various fillings (£3.10), a feta and pepper frittata (£3.20), mac ‘n’ cheese (£3.20) and the special of the day. The breakfast menu (served until 11am) has the usual fry-up options as well as bubble and squeak. Sandwiches, salads and baguettes are also available in the open fridge, along with yogurts and fruit cups. On the counter are some tempting sweet treats, including flapjacks, brownies and cookies.
The chilli con carne and rice (£4.30) is a delightful surprise, coming out piping hot and bursting with so much flavour that as soon as it’s put on the table a waft of the delicious aromas from different herbs and spices hits you. Filled with plenty of mince, kidney beans and onions, you can tell this really is made with care. The rice is perfectly cooked and happily soaks up all the sauce. The portion is perfectly sized for lunch and to top it off, it arrives pretty much instantly. No meals are priced over £5 and takeaways are available, which only adds to the appeal.
A range of coffees to make Starbucks proud are available as well as English and a variety of organic herbal teas (£1.20). Soft drinks including cans from Pret can be found in the open fridge.
The Crisis Skylight Café brings together everything you want for a nice and easy lunch time break – good quality and cheap food, a relaxed atmosphere, and a little self-satisfaction knowing you’re helping a charity. And with prices this reasonable, it doesn't cost much to do it.