Tag Archives: coffee shop

My search for the best coffee shop in central London #5 – Store Street Espresso, 40 Store Street, WC1E 7DB

So here’s my criteria and hit-list for finding the best coffee shop in Central London.  And yes I hear you – “Flat White! Flat White!” – I will get there eventually but I’m taking my time, mkay? I don’t want another over-egged Byron experience. To recap, I’m looking for a chilled, cosy, friendly place with tasty coffee with depth and a kick. The kind of place you can go to gossip or to sit alone on your laptop or reading your book. Simples.

Store Street Espresso opened recently so it’s brand spanking new and right by the back entrance to the British Museum so is favoured by good friend and guest blogger Pippalippa as venue for drinking coffee and doing Chinese homework. We went along for lunch and I was really impressed.

It is lovely inside – minimalist and arty but also warm and cosy which is quite a feat, and with enough corners and angles to be private. Great mix between people on their own and groups – I expect you could grab a paper and while away several hours in there. Super friendly staff who were happy to let me snap away. And good music – Nu-folk which is cool (unlike Old-folk which apparently is not). I’m a fan of music in coffee shops, makes for a better atmosphere in my humble opinion – I thought the London Review of Books cafe was just too quiet. I did ask them where the coffee beans were from, they answered and I nodded and then I completely forgot what they said. But the coffee was really good – I ordered a flat white at around £2.20 I think and it was strong and deep and creamy but with a nice little kick which helped my tired and jet-lagged ass get through the afternoon at work. And it came with a heart on top – a heart! I used to think coffee art was gimmicky but I like it now. Nice doorstop bread sarnie with cheese and pickle too. Definitely recommended for grabbing a coffee and a bite to eat if you’re in Bloomsbury. Oh and I finally worked out why my previous photos were so blurry (I’d switched the focus to manual by mistake) – so these photos are back to normal.

My search for the best coffee shop in central London #3 – Wild & Wood, New Oxford Street, WC1 A1BA

 Continuing my search for the best coffee shop in central London, I stumbled across Wild & Wood on New Oxford Street and I think it may have jumped to the top of my list already.

The coffee is Monmouth coffee, changing every week and this week it was Guatemalan (which I’ve discovered I like mucho). Inside, its all cakes, wooden panelling, church pews and “please share tables” which makes for a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and the pictures and movies are all 50s style. A few minutes walk from Tottenham Court Road and its a little bit of Central London peace and quiet.

I was solo on this trip and took my coffee to go, but the next time I’d love to stay and hang out longer – its the sort of place I’m sure you could while away the time with a book and some coffee. I also felt ridiculous taking photos on my own in this little coffee shop which reminded me that blogging is much more fun with friends – plus I can pretend that I’m taking photos of them or just reeeeally enthusiastic about the coffeee. I got a flat white at £1.90 and it was lovely – nicely creamy, only a little bitter with a nice kick which kept me going all afternoon. Also made me think why on earth people go to Starbucks et al when you can find a nice little coffee shop like this.

Upstairs restaurant, 89 Acre Lane, SW2 5TN

1197293398501A wonderfully simple, intimate dining experience.  Upstairs is in a Victorian house that has been split into downstairs coffee shop (Opus), 1st floor bar, and upstairs restaurant with about 8 tables and a fantastic small menu where everything is good and the wine is even better.  You normally start with drinks at the tiny bar on the 1st floor, which could be someone’s living room.  You are then escorted to dinner on the top floor. 

Although there are reports that the menu is lacking of late, and I was a bit disappointed to see leek and potato soup as one of three starter choices which I thought was a bit safe, the food is generally wonderful – French, tasty, delicate.  I had one of the best starters I’ve ever had there – rabbit ravioli – which was intricately made and packed with flavour. The menu offers only 3 choices of starters, main and dessert, but I like this – shows confidence and you know anything you order will be superb. Is up there with Chez Bruce standard cooking in SW London.  Wine list, as a French run place, is superb and the cheese plate is fantastic too. Run by the inspirational Philippe Castaing, who has an inspirational vision for Brixton and is making it his business to transform Acre Lane.  Small, quirky and romantic.

UPDATE 12 August 2010: Sadly I’ve been back twice since I wrote this post and I’ve been disappointed both times. Philippe and the other staff there weren’t particularly friendly and the food, although good, was a little unambitious and unimaginative.  It was also incredibly expensive for what you got too (around £70 each for a 2 hour meal). I sadly won’t be back again until I hear better stories and as promised I haven’t written up my bad review because I only want to dwell on the positive. Come on Upstairs sort your shizzle out! I still love Opus though – see my review here.

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