Star of song (Saint Etienne’s 1993 ‘Mario’s Café’) and screen (at the chrome coffee-counter you can buy a £3 DVD documentary about the caff), Mario’s relies on locals’ indefatigable appetite for cut-above breakfasts – scrambled egg and salmon, or poached egg and prosciutto, on ciabatta, a full English of sausage, egg, bacon and tomato, plus extras (bubble, hash browns, black pudding). But don’t ignore the Italian mains – Mario’s mum makes even a simple spicy Italian sausage penne delicious: decent ingredients, no fuss.
Set among pretty pastel-painted cottages, the café is too narrow for comfort, but perfectly proportioned for bonhomie, which Mario dishes up as enthusiastically as the cappuccinos and nosh. It’s a community place, with guitar lessons, doulas and t’ai chi lessons advertised, local art on the walls, and a steady stream of dads-with-nippers and retirees greeted by name. A classic.