The Proud Archivist is right on the canal towpath close to the Kingsland Road bridge, but my bus dropped me off a little further west, near the lovely and aptly named Towpath café. There are plenty of shiny new apartment buildings along this stretch of the canal — in fact, The Proud Archivist occupies the ground floor of one — but there is still plenty of character.
Given the pleasant weather, I was worried that the café was going to be full but I must have arrived early enough to beat the brunch rush and I snagged one of the long sharing tables on the towpath and in the sunshine. The view over the canal was very pleasant and it was fun to people-watch as the many joggers, cyclists and passersby went about their Sunday morning.
There weren't any hand-brewed filter coffees on the menu, although they do serve a single-origin batch-brew filter; instead, I ordered a piccolo. I had brewed an iced Aeropress coffee before leaving home but was starting to feel the need for my second caffeine hit of the day. The coffee is from Caravan and my piccolo was very good: smooth and creamy, even if the latte art had started to deconstruct on its way to my table.
Choosing what I wanted to eat was a little harder — the shakshouka (£9) sounded great and it doesn't usually take much persuasion to talk me into a bacon sarnie (£7), but regular readers will probably guess that I went for the poached egg and avocado on sourdough toast (£9). Seriously, brunch menu creators: all you need to ensure happiness in your patrons is to offer a dish that includes at least two of the holy trinity of poached egg, avocado and bacon.
The food was, of course, delicious: the eggs just the right consistency, the avo seasoned just so, and a big dollop of chilli jam on the side to keep things interesting. I rather liked the orange, star-shaped sunglasses that served to mark my table number too; it's a good thing that they weren't pink or I might have borrowed them!
The Proud Archivist is pretty big with long sharing tables inside and out along two sides of the building. They are open all day and have a pretty epic-looking cocktail menu — next time I'll have to try a Halley's Gimlet or, partly because of the name, a Bittersweet Symphony. There is also a revolving and evolving collection of well-curated art exhibitions, cultural talks, workshops and other events. It's the kind of place you to go for brunch and then spend the whole day there; unfortunately, though, I had other plans on Sunday. Another time, though...
The Proud Archivist. 2-10 Hertford Road, London, N1 5ET (Haggerston Overground). Website. Twitter.