On our trips into town, my mum and I like to be ladies who lunch. It's always interesting to try new places, so when the Italian cafe Moka opened in Wimbledon (there is also a cafe in Kingston and Epsom) a few years ago, we thought we'd give it a go. It has now become our regular lunch place.
When we go to Moka, there are a number of guessing games we like to play. The first is 'which teapot will we get?' A pot of tea costs £1.95, but it is pure luck on whether you get a large pot or a small one. You can get two cups out of the larger pot, but only one from the small pot. The small pot also tends to have a faulty lid, so we sometimes end up with a dribbler.
Our second game is 'has the specials menu changed?' Aside from the main menu, there is a blackboard that offers other meals for a 'limited time'. I put 'limited time' in quotations, because they are often on the blackboard for a long while. This isn't a bad thing though, because when I like a certain Special, it's nice to be able to have it again on the next visit. That being said, last Christmas, they had their seasonal Italian panettone cake on the list from November up until at least March. I was glad when it had finally been replaced.
The third game is called 'How many in the Mummy Brigade?' Moka is Mummy Central. There is never a time where isn't a mother with a pram or young child. It would be highly irregular to see less than three at any one time. I'm not sure why it is so popular with mothers, because although Moka has a children's menu, it is not very extensive: penne pasta, a toasted ham sandwich, or chicken nuggets with fries.
The adult menu is much more satisfactory though. Moka serve all day brunches which include a variety of omelettes, egg benedicts, frittatas, and a croque madame/monsieur (yep, this cafe like their eggs).
And of course, what good Italian cafe doesn't serve pasta? They have eight to choose from, but they are rather hit and miss. Their pesto linguine, for example, is exquisite, but their lasagna is the complete opposite. It is so laden with cheese that you cannot taste anything else, and it is quite sickly.
On the not-so-Italian side of things, Moka have ginormous burgers that need to be skewered with a cocktail stick to stop the filling falling out. They also have large baked potatoes with sky high toppings, and big plates of salad.
What Moka does best, however, are their lunch time sandwiches. The granary bread they use is nutty and soft, while their toasted ciabattas and panini have a pretty dusting of flour sprinkled on top. But my favourite of all are the tortilla wraps, each of which come with their own refreshingly creamy dressing.
When it comes to afters, you have a range of sweet treats that range from delish to underwhelming. I want to end on a high, so I'll start with the negatives. Apart from vanilla flavour (which is very nice), their ice creams taste very artificial, their danishes are more pastry than filling, and their chocolate cake is very dry. Avoid these, and you'll do fine, because they do the best carrot cake I've ever tasted, and a lovely and moist lemon & ginger loaf.