This review was originally written for the Londonist’s eco eating series.

Flooded with early afternoon light on a bright autumn day, Lumen was chosen for an eco lunch because of its promise to support local farmers and source seasonal ingredients, along with its commitment to use mostly organic and fair-trade ingredients.

Run as a social enterprise that helps the homeless, it’s found inside an ultra modern church which boasts whiter than white walls, huge windows and a sculpture-like chimney that beams a shaft of daylight down from the heavens. A place of worship is perhaps not everyone’s lunch spot of choice, but all are welcome in the cafe, heathens like us included.

Our bowl of homemade carrot and coriander soup (£3.50) was as hearty as the chalk board said it would be, with wonderful chunks of fresh ginger and two slices of delicious brown bread, baked in south London no less.  Our vegetarian mezze plate wasn’t quite so impressive.  The three dips and flatbreads with their rocket garnish were good, but, with a £5.50 price tag, we were expecting something a little more substantial than the starter sized portion we got.

Spying on other tables, the salads being sent out looked colourful and generous, and the sandwiches well filled.  Other options on the menu included potato cakes with avocado and a goats’ cheese and broccoli tortilla.  A range of homemade cakes, including a deep apple pie and some very big scones, were on offer for afters.  We rounded our light lunch off with coffee – the cappuccino was strong and with just the right amount of froth.

The clientele was mainly female and mainly middle aged, but those that don’t fall within these categories shouldn’t be put off.  We arrived early, but by the time we left it was getting busier with the London lunchtime rush, albeit a gentle one.  Pretty fresh flowers on the table, friendly service, the tinkle of the piano from somewhere else in the building – Lumen is a calm place for a simple, daytime eco eat.  It has a courtyard garden on offer too if the weather is kind enough.

Lumen Cafe, 88 Tavistock Place,WC1H 9RT;


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