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The Black Penny

Restaurants, Coffeeshops Covent Garden
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(25user reviews)
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The Penny Black
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A great café/takeaway between Covent Garden and Holborn.

It was a marketing wheeze that really, really worked. This new café/takeaway in Covent Garden sold every dish for a penny on opening day, and when we went a few days later there were huge queues waiting for tables and (mostly) takeaway. It reminded us of the old drug dealer’s trick to get new clients: ‘the first one’s free’.

Addiction to Black Penny may become a recognised medical condition, but it won’t be because of cost – low though that is. When you finally reach the counter, you see dishes that look like those at many another coffee place: soup, sandwiches, salad, quiche, a stew, lots of baked sweet things. But when you finally sit down in the small back dining room, you realise this isn’t the stuff of two-for-a-penny cafés. 

The quality is high in both sweet and savoury dishes. Salads are a particular strength, with confident seasoning in the dressings and excellent assemblies of sprightly ingredients to carry them. The kitchen has a masterful pasty-maker, as we saw in both a savoury tart and a Pennsylvania-Dutch-style apple pie. They also had a good ceviche on the menu when we were there.

Portions are enormous and prices eminently reasonable - £7.50 for a salad box that some people would be happy to share between two, sandwiches just under a fiver.

In the food, the only downer was inelegant presentation of salad selections. The separate components were piled together so that their flavours blended in some unappealing ways: ceviche on top of couscous is never a good look. This is inevitable when you’re filling takeaway boxes, but inexcusable when working with a large plate for eating in.

In the service, the downer was a moderate dose of merry chaos: they need to sort out their queuing and payment system to cut down waiting and confusion. But we were there in very early days, and they made it clear that they were aware of the problem.

Once Black Penny sorts its systems, it is going to be the sort of place you dream about having near your office. You won’t begrudge spending pounds rather than pennies here. Even at full price, Black Penny is a sterling lunchtime destination. 

The Black Penny says
Fresh, healthy and tasty dishes (some say we offer the best breakfast in Covent Garden) with homemade cakes and sweet treats available all day, every day. Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch.

Enjoy our own bespoke blend of coffee specially roasted in partnership with The Roastery Department.

Whether you desire a sit-down lunch or want to grab something healthy and satisfying for your desk, we look forward to seeing you.

We also offer an external catering service and larger bookings to please the whole office.

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm | Sat: 9am-6pm | Sun: 9am-6pm

Our kitchen hours have been extended! Enjoy our menu until 5pm Monday to Saturday.

By: Richard Ehrlich

Posted:

Details

Address: 34 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AA
Transport: Tube: Holborn or Covent Garden
Contact:
Do you own this business?

Users say (25)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:12
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|27
1 person listening

I had the mushroom hash and it was tasty.

The perfect amount of food for brunch.

I arrived at around 11 on a Saturday and they were able to seat the two of us within 10 minutes.

However, I did expect slightly better service. We were told by a server that another member of staff would seat us and then then this person never appeared. We had to ask again.

I also had to ask for the bill twice. We might have been between work shifts, so I just think it got forgotten.

It is a lovely building. Sit in the back and it looks like a library.

With better service, this place could be my new brunch place.

Tastemaker

I got the wild mushroom hash I had been eyeing for several weeks for takeaway and my friend the salt beef option. I also got a mix of three salads and salmon for takeaway. The food is not cheap- £12.90 each for the hashes, which are not huge, are pricey. But my god how flavourful they were. I loved the crumbled polenta and rich mushroom flavour and my friend was pleased the salt beef was in diced slices that made it easy to eat. I had the salads the next day: a quinoa pilaf, a broccoli salad and a cabbage mix. All fantastic with the huge piece of tasty salmon with a red pepper rub. The salted caramel macaron was also lovely to eat later- very sugary.


1st visit with my hubby today both had the Hunter breakfast which was divine. Ludicrous though for the price that it doesn't come with one whole mushroom!

tastemaker

I arrived today shortly after 10 am and the place was heaving!  Obviously word has got around.  The food looked delicious but there was no where available to sit and eat.  It is situated opposite the beautiful Freemans Hall which atrtracts tourists, so maybe that's the reason.  On arrival in the cafe, I was greeted by a cheery waitress which was a nice touch and the coffee was good but as they don't expect payment immediately, I couldn't find anyone to take my money when I left, so just placed it next to the till.  Chaotic but I would like to go again and try their delicious-looking food.  I'm just don't know when it will be calmer.


Terrible service. After waiting for at least 40 minutes for a table, it then took another 15 mins for someone to then take our order. The coffees were all cold. After 30 minutes I asked about the food and the waitress said it was coming. I again asked another member of staff for the second time and she said it was coming. After another ten minutes wait ( so in total after 50 minutes) My group and friends got up to leave. The person in charge of managing the tables had not even bothered to find out what was happening to our food. Seriously, I have never experienced service like this before. She just apologised and didn’t give any explanation about what had happened. Really disappointed.

tastemaker

Lovely little independent cafe serving high-quality coffee, cake and light lunches. Great location for Covent Garden shoppers, and often packed with fashionistas during London Fashion Week looking for their much-needed caffeine fix. The banana bread (£2.50) is highly recommended! 



tastemaker

Very cute spot in Covent Garden/ Holborn. Lovely brunch options. Quite pricey and small portions, but very tasty good quality food. Lovely indie decor and the service is fine. Great pitstop for a coffee and brunch in the area.

Tastemaker

This is a really cute coffee/lunch place in Covent Garden! Reasonably priced, excellent coffee and the food is fresh, simple and delicious.


Nicely tucked away in Covent Garden, it does get busy but it isn't touristy or overly rammed. There are tables in the back, and some nice seating out front too. All in all, a good spot! 

tastemaker

Love their brunch! My friend went to Black Penny and couldn't stop talking about it. So the next day, we went again and I wasn't disappointed. Great coffee and yummy food. My favourite was the red eggs (scrambled eggs with harissa), spicy and creamy at the same time. The dishes with hash are also good. It's a bit busy during the weekend, so be prepared to wait for a bit but I promise it will be worth it!

Tastemaker

My friend and I went for a coffee and desert in Black Penny and we absolutely loved it. Such a nice interior, pleasant friendly staff, good atmosphere, great coffee and delicious sticky toffee pudding! Not to mention the location, in a lovely street so close to Covent garden. It must be worth it for breakfast/brunch too!

tastemaker

I can see why so many people rave about The Black Penny for breakfast and brunch! My friends and I had the chance to try this café out today for brunch and we absolutely loved it!


It was hard to decide on what I wanted because there a few dishes that caught my eye but I settled for the Ozdemir Pasha. This consisted of 2 slices of sourdough with Halloumi, hummus, 2 poached eggs and a tomato, red onion and parsley salad. 


I really liked the variety of ingredients in this dish because I had the chance to try different items, which all paired well together. Like I mentioned earlier, the combination of flavours gave it quite a mediterranean feel – especially with the hummus and Halloumi. It was nice to blend the hummus and poached eggs together to have with the toast and I thought the addition of a fresh salad in the centre really lifted the dish. It gave it some added texture with the raw red onions and juiciness from the tomatoes. I also liked that there was a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the dish, as that also helped keep it fresh and light. The drizzle of olive oil on the dish was really tasty, and I could really taste it on the toasted sourdough, which was great!


As for my drink, I went for a Chai Latte with almond milkbecause I hadn’t had one in such a long time. This came quite quickly and was delicious – not too sweet and lovely with the added cinnamon powder on top of the milk froth.


The staff were super lovely and friendly and the café itself was quite adorable. As we came at prime brunch time, we weren't able to get a proper table to sit down at, but the counter seats were just as good! They had enough space all our main dishes and drinks. 




The perfect and delicious breakfast options.. Everything I've tried here just so tasty. Including the gorgeous coffee and the home made cakes... Truly Love it!!


If you are Australian you will love this cafe, the coffee is excellent and the food superb, beautifully presented, with great customer service. Highly recommended.

tastemaker

This the second time I've visited this place for breakfast & each time the food has been on point. This time I shared the brioche French toast served with vanilla ricotta, honey, rhubarb & pistachios 👌🏽with a friend (we also ordered a side of crispy bacon). The serving was huge so was easily shared. If you haven't visited yet, I would highly recommend it as a breakfast/brunch spot to add to your list!


I've been to Black Penny three times at this point, and 2/3 times the food really hit the spot. I love this little restaurant. I love the decor, and it has a nice ambiance at lunch, but it's always very busy so probably best to get there just before the lunchtime rush if you want a table. The chef is pretty darn good because the pulled lamb with new potatoes and the lasagna were both fab! The chicken with salad was a bit of a let down for me but i'm sure others would like it.


I think the biggest let down for this place is the service. Although the waiters are friendly enough, the service is extremely chaotic, staff running around seemingly unsure of what they should be doing. They are also extremely forgetful, and on all three occasions it took reminding a number of staff of my order, before our drinks actually got delivered (near the end of our meal!)


If they sort out the service then this place would definitely get a five star!


Took advantage of a brunch offer here a few weeks ago and was really impressed with the quality of the food. We both went for 'Ozdemir Pasha' (a generous portion of grilled hallloumi with poached eggs, sourdough, butterbean hummus, sumac and a fresh tomato salad) and tea, which was just divine. Awesome flavours, perfectly cooked eggs and a decent size portion made it well worth queuing for 15 minutes!


A couple of things they could have improved on are the service, which was fairly quick but a bit theatrical, making it seem a bit disingenuous, and also the prices of the smaller items. The brunch was excellent value for the quality of the food and the location, but a fiver for bircher muesli is a bit steep and most of the baked goods were pricey too. They looked lovely, but £3.10 for a cookie is crazy! Will definitely return to try their salads, as I've heard they're delish, but I think I'll go elsewhere for my sweet fix.

tastemaker

In a rush on my way here for brunch I'm sorry to say I bypassed all of the delicious displays by the till to fiendishly find my friends and pretend I was hangover free.  If I this hadn't been the case I'm sure I would have opted for their amazing salad combo boxes, however I settled on a filling sausage sourdough sandwich (with amazing bbq sauce) to fill the hunger pangs.  Lovely decor in the back seating area which was smaller than anticipated so I'd avoid for big groups.

Food was high quality and large portions meant I carried half away!  Only downfall was the slightly chaotic waiter service. Lovely little spot in an area that is under appreciated, just past the bustle of Covent Garden.

Tastemaker

One of the best brunches I've had in London- both savoury and sweet options are equally good. Highlights included the chorizo baked beans, the spiced apple compote, and the 1p glasses of prosecco to wash it all down!

Tastemaker

Very nice cafe in a convenient location. When I went, I ordered the vegetarian courgette and goat cheese sandwich which was delicious. Black Penny is convenient if you're in the Covent Garden area but it's far enough away that it doesn't seem to be over run with tourists.

Tastemaker

Great coffee & always great service. Plus one of my hit-list for a good cafe - freely available tap water. Sounds simple but so often used as a ruse to squeeze more money from the unsuspecting.

Staff Writertastemaker

Absolutely delicious salad boxes for lunchtimes. With a "protein" (bit of an off putting way the staff describe it) its £7.50 for the take out Black Penny box so not a cheap lunch but well worth it. I also tried the baked lamb shoulder stew with cous cous (rich, tomatoey sauce) which I'd picked up for my friend and will be looking out for on future visits- amazing!

The staff seem a little flappy still and they haven't quite worked out a smooth way of serving and taking payment without tripping over one another both times I've visited this week.... although I have been back twice so clearly its not a deal breaker.


Came in just for a quick coffee with a friend, ended up staying for food, more food, wine, more wine.... Ooops! Had a really nice time, thanks girls :)