Look Mum No Hands! 49 Old Street, London EC1

Put down those energy bars and leave your bike outside – cyclists have finally got the pit stop they deserve

There's a fine old Tour de France tradition that I doubt survives in this pinched age of "nutritional supplements" and "fluid intake": parched, desperate riders would stumble into a café to raid the bar, then hop back on their bikes to divide the spoils – wine, beer, maybe even some water. The patrons would be left to invoice the Tour for their losses. (There's some lovely footage of just such a raid in 1962 at
http://tiny.cc/ 6kvql – it's around the 4:50 mark.)

I suppose I could try to pull the same trick on my Sunday-morning ride, but I can't see myself making off with a pot of tea and a scone from the Tudor Rose café in Westerham. In any case, my cycling chums and I have malt loaf, bananas and bottles of "isotonic" drinks stuffed in pockets and cages. Yummy, yummy...

But you know what? Cyclists don't have to eat and drink like this. Away from the rolling lanes of Kent, where midlife crises are measured out in discarded energy-bar wrappers, there are new cafés catering to cyclists, inviting them to stop, enjoy some decent food and drink, and in style. Look Mum No Hands! is one such establishment.

It's certainly in the right spot, sandwiched between two post-war office blocks on a nondescript stretch of Old Street, central London, livened up by the parade of cycle tribes zipping between the West End and Shoreditch: the Pashley-riding ladies about town, the "fixed-gear" indie kids, the aspiring racers in Lycra. And when you walk in, it's hard to believe that this handsome mix of bar-café-bike workshop, all housed in an high-ceilinged room, hasn't been a London cyclists' fixture for years.

The trio who opened the place earlier this year, Matt Harper, Lewin Chalkley and Sam Humpheson, have said they wanted the atmosphere to be as inclusive as possible. They've succeeded – in the adjacent courtyard there are plenty of racks to lock your bike (and given the neighbourhood's reputation for bike theft, I definitely would lock). Inside, the counter service is friendly-casual, and the décor what you might call "cycle chic internationale": eight or 10 blonde-wood tables and chairs on a parquet floor, vintage and contemporary cycle-themed prints on the white walls, naked bulbs dangling from the high ceiling, a bookcase featuring cycling literature, from stylish journals to techie manuals. And bikes, of course, lots of bikes, stuck on walls, in the window, propped up here and there.

The evening my friend Kevin and I visit, LMNH! has, it must be said, all the buzz of a puncture. The previous evening the café had hosted a local cycling club's packed film night (the venue has a projector), the staff look a little bleary behind the food counter, and there are few customers.

Chalked up on boards above us are the usual suspects at this end of the market: pies, salads, cheeses, platters of cured meats, smoothies, shakes, free wi-fi. We go pie: Kev the chicken, ham and leek; me the Mediterranean vegetable and feta, each of us opting for a hefty side-salad of coleslaw, potato salad, feta and some green leaves (£7.95). There's the suspicion that an avalanche of accompaniment disguises some god-awful bought-in stodge – but not in this case. Decent, light pastry, good fillings – and reheated without the tell-tale signs of a microwave mauling.

The beer, too, is served thoughtfully, with iced glasses: for me, Bath's Dark Hare Ale (£3.60), for Kev, a Vedett lager (£3.60). There's also wine: I have a slurp of respectable Domaine Py Merlot (a bit steep at £4 for a small glass?). There are two or three other reds and several whites, and half-a-dozen international beers that reflect whatever big road race is taking place around the world. But the bar is only licensed until 10pm, and anyway, riding at night through central London is iffy enough without a skinful. (It is too late for either of us to risk a coffee but I have it on sound authority that LMNH! is justifiably proud of its Americanos, espressos and lattes.)

After a generous square of spiced apple cake (£2), surprisingly moist after a day on the counter, Kev and I saddle up and pedal away, happy. Look Mum No Hands! may be a stylish café stop rather than a destination as yet, but it's the café stop that London cyclists have deserved for years.

14/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok, 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good , 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

Look Mum No Hands! 49 Old Street, London EC1; tel: 020 7253 1025 Open 7.30am-10pm Mon-Fri; 9am-10pm Sat; 10am-10pm Sun. Two courses with beer: about £30 for two

More cyclists' sanctuaries

The Hub

Glentress Forest, Peebles, tel: 01721 721 736

A no-nonsense menu of nachos and fry-ups, coffees and cakes awaits those who need refuelling at the end of a long day on the dramatic off-road trails of Glentress Forest in the Tweed Valley

Café St Germain

16-17 Crystal Palace Parade, London SE19, tel: 020 8670 3670

Dozens of road riders descend on this south London café each Saturday and Sunday morning – lovely croissants, nice coffee, served by efficient, if bemused, staff

The Dropoff Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre

Glyncorrwg, Port Talbot, tel: 01639 852 005

A fab and stylish licensed café that serves entirely home-made snacks and hearty meals to the happy cyclists making their way around the beautiful pines of Afan Forest Park

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor