Coffee Geekery

042 So this is a strange post, today we happened across a coffee bar inside a bar (bar at night coffee shop by day) which I think was called Pop Up, mainly because it probably is a pop up. It is opposite the Milk Bar on Bateman street and is fantastic. The coffee is that licorishy, small bubbled, anitpodean brew that I love (£2.50 for a flat white). There is cofee geekery text on the back of the menu and young dudes with excessive and well groomed facial hair make coffee and brunch. The menu is short: scrambled egg sandwich (£2.50) with extras, carrot cake, porridge and one other item which I have forgotten.  The egg sandwich was eggy, salty and buttery and served in crusty, toasted bloomer; what more could you want? The tables are copper topped and small, big enough to perch  cocktail or a beer on for its night time incarnation. Oh, and the vending machine in the men’s loos sells, condoms, mints, anti perspirant and gaviscon.

I can’t post a link to anywhere as I can’t find it  in Google land.

El Vergel

A picture of Halva at El Vergel, a Latin American cafe/restuarant in Webber Street, Southwark. The cake is lovely although not actually the halva that I know of old. This one is a cake with nuts and drenched in honey. The cafe is good with a wide range of food, from sandwiches to full meals, including tortillas and eggs with Salsa and chorizo. They also have plenty of vegetarian options. The service is a little random but if you can let go of any impatience you may bring in with you it is a great place and reasonably priced.
El Vergel on Urbanspoon

Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Bea’s of Bloomsbury is a tea shop and cafe in Holborn serving beautifully turned out cakes, afternoon tea and lunchtime sundries. They pride themselves on being ‘green’, composting waste and using locally sourced food including Square Mile coffee which is presumably from the city of London and is unquestionably delicious. My latte was strong and liquoricey and served in a little glass which I like becuase you can immediately see if it is too milky; it wasn’t.

Bea’s is dominated by the large kitchen, given over to baking, at the back and as a result it lacks a little in atmosphere. I do like being able to see kitchen action and it is reassuing to see them baking the bread and cakes but somehow it is almost too dominant and the grey decor doeasn’t help with cosiness, or the lack of it. However the cakes are wonderful, I had a sticky cup cake with buttercream icing and pears poached in brandy and it was excellent, a grown up cake with the pears balancing the icing perfectly.

 On weekends they do a limited lunch menu as they concentrate mostly on afternoon tea, but we had three mini baguettes for £3 (3 each that is) and they were indeed mini. You can choose from a selection and we had courgette and hummus and mozarella, tomato and pesto. The bread was wonderfully chewy and the filling tasty. It is not quite enough for lunch which leaves plenty of room for cake but if you have a fairly healthy appetitie you might need 3 plates full for 2 people.

Our lunch cost £15 for 2 coffees, 2 baguette plates and 2 cakes. I would probably go back but personally think that the Fleet River Bakery, also in the area, has a better atmosphere and does equally good coffeee, although perhaps comes second in the cake department.
Bea's of Bloomsbury on Urbanspoon

Fleet River Bakery

The Fleet River Bakery is a lunch spot behind Holborn station. We went there yesterday for lunch and I have to start by saying that I had the best Latte I have had in a loooong time (see picture), beautifully strong Monmouth coffee and not too much milk. We then had an artichoke and salad wrap and shared a piece of carrot cake. There were other vegetarian options including a cheese roll, quiche, torilla and sweet potato soup. The wrap was extremely crisp and fresh and the bread was a proper home made flat bread not a spongy, claggy tortilla (which I don’t like much). The carrot cake was moist and with proper cream cheese frosting. The service was efficient and friendly and the customers were plentiful and looked happy. There was a large lunchtime queue forming when we arrived and it was dealt with speedily and with good humour. Our lunch came to £15.00.

The Fleet River Bakery looks like a cosy, homespun sort of place but in reality it is a pretty large operation with two downstairs rooms as well as the upstairs cafe area with window bench seating and a couple of outside tables. This is quite an achievement and one which the staff at the Market Coffee House in Spitalfields would do well to study.

The Fleet River Bakery is open 7.00-6.00 Monday to Friday and on Saturday 9.00 – 4.00.
Fleet River Bakery on Urbanspoon

Bar Italia

Bar Italia, for those of you who have not yet visited, is a famous and long standing Italian coffee bar, with the emphasis on Italian. There are some tables outside which enable a good view of the comings and goings on Frith street and some stools inside so you can sit, feet dangling and listen to the waiters showing off. The coffee is good and strong, if not cheap (it cost £5 for two coffees yesterday). The place has been here for years and is open late, which means that many Londoners have a history associated with it, usually a well needed coffee after a late nights drinking. They also serve cakes and sandwiches, none of which i tasted, but which looked fresh enough. It makes a difference from the ubiquitous chains and the coffee really is good and strong enough to keep you ticking along for a day in town.

Bar Italia on Urbanspoon

Royal Festival Hall

Company of Cooks have installed themselves in the terrace cafe area at the Royal Festival Hall and have made it an excellent place for lunch. There is plenty of space, much of it with a riverside view, and the place has a light and airy feel to it. It is not really a formal lunching kind of place but a good lazy Sunday or
Saturday destination. Excellent sandwiches on good, dense, seedy bread or focaccia with hummus and roasted courgettes. The cake is excellent and unusual, including a lavender cake with a wonderfully subtle flavour or, for Easter, a good rich, fruity simnel cake with generous amounts of marzipan. They also do seasonal salads and soups. Well made coffee and quick service make it one of my current favourites.