As you amble past Defence Bakery, pondering on the meaning of life or the availability of hot butter croissants and whether the twain shall meet, keep an eye out. That’s how we spotted Cafe Yell, newly situated right above its parent, Yell, which is a long-time tenant and also a popular fashion retail brand.
You get small hints of this as you take a seat in the cafe’s intimate space. Spools and darns, framed tailors’ scissors and measuring scales, giant buttons in pop colours, all recalling bygone times when tailoring was bespoke. Even the lamps are made out of recycled wooden coat hangers. Pleasant, low-volumed music floats in the background as you appreciate the subtlety of the place and its brave eschewing of branding.
Cafe Yell’s menu includes Yell Insalata, Yell Nachos, Chicken Wings (with Yell sauce, naturally) and Yell Quatro Meat Love pizza. As well as some remarkable Italian food. It also doesn’t stray all over the place, mostly remaining moored to the Continent.
The Italian is a later happy discovery as we first decide to get our hands dirty with the aforementioned wings and its Yell sauce. The sauce is an in-house concoction of chilli and red marinade, smoky and with just a suggestion of sweetness; we just wish it had a little more punch. The wings are dragon red, with plenty of meat on the bone and come six a portion generously coated with sauce.
We next fish for the Garlic Shrimp, which come with a surprise but not unwelcome serving of herb butter rice. Proving that size doesn’t matter, the tiny shrimp is bursting with the flavours of the Mediterranean (and enough garlic to stun a vampire), all tempered by barely cooked baby tomatoes. Belissima.
We delve further in with a Risotto Pollo Lucca, a bubbling muddling of arborio, parmesan and gorgonzola textured with tender chicken and crispy bacon. Gently steaming, each melting mouthful is a swirl of flavours and dreams. More prosaically, the edge of the parmesan blunts the sharpness of the gorgonzola, all the gamey meat rounding off said edges.
We continue to be spoiled with choice of dessert. We settle on the Yell Cookie Blast. A gigantic wedge of the most decadent layering of chocolate, cookies, cream and crust arrives in the form of a cheesecake. The remarkable thing about it is how closely it resembles that confectionary behemoth that was the Defence Bakery Cookie Blast cheesecake, so recently discontinued. Indeed, the only difference between the two is their pricing.