Bar Italia – Frith Street

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Hopefully the next posting will be as a duo again, but this one, alas, is just me.

Bar Italia is a bit of an institution, it has been around since just after the war and has that feel of a well established place, no heirs and graces, just friendly staff and good coffee. I had a latte and this weird little croissant thing, £4.20, anything under a fiver when alone seems reasonable.

The coffee was superb, could have sat and drunk it all day, so smooth, and I am getting used to drinking coffee from a glass now, feels less odd than it first did. The croissant thing was crunchy and full of chocolate, tasted rather like Nutella, nice and soft, just enough to keep me going without being too sweet or filling.

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The place is relaxed and has that air of coolness, I chose to sit outside so I could watch people pass and listen to customers talking, being generally nosey. Being in Soho it is one of the more interesting places to people watch, but at 10:30 on a Monday morning it wasn’t too busy. Inside there are typically Italian things on the wall, signed cycling and football jerseys, etc. giving an air of time rather than forcing a theme.

Kerry would love the al fresco nosiness aspect of the place, not so sure about the coffee, as posted previously (I think) she had admitted to preferring places she knows rather than go somewhere new, but I am working on that, and we will be visiting here together.

As well as being a great place for coffee they also do more substantial meals, so may be a place we will try out for a lunch one day.

My only small gripe – which say much about how English I am – is that the food was not labelled, not really bothered about the prices but would have liked to know what each thing was, and too English to ask of course. I will try to get over that next time.

Rapha – Brewer Street

I finally went back to Rapha, there was some soul searching after previous visits, but as it’s had a change around it seemed a fair idea.

The newly extended eating area is okay, same style as before just a lot more space. As it was early I had a latte and pain au chocolat, something simple, yet reassuringly expensive at £5.50.

The coffee was stunning, the barrista seemed really disinterested in his job as I sat and watched him for a while, but he has skills. A smooth and not too bitter affair, not sure what the bean was – they used to tell you, maybe they decided that was a touch too pretentious? The pain au chocolat was okay, a little crisp but not too much chocolate.

The staff were friendly and busy, the place wasn’t too busy, just a few guys dotted about – all guys, sure ladies do frequent the place, mostly with men I would guess, a very man place.

I am still unsure about Rapha though, maybe I am still too young to buy into the whole thing, I don’t fancy spending hundreds of pounds on cycling kit, I wasn’t mega happy at spending £5.50 for breakfast! It’s hard though because the coffee is brilliant, if in fairly small amounts – although they seem to have ditched the glasses for proper cups now.WP_20140609_002

And if you enjoy the cup you can buy one, with saucer, for £45…

Grind – Westfield, Stratford City

Another solo post I am afraid, the fair Kerry should be back with a vengeance for a trip next weekend, but this, and the next couple, were on my own again.

My first thoughts on this place were that it can’t be an independent, not being based in a massive shopping centre, but after subsequent research it does appear to be just that, so fair play to them. I opted for a decaf skinny latte – i am trying out skinny now to balance out adding sugar so often – and an Afghan biscuit. £4.70 which seems about right really.

WP_20140607_003Not entirely sure what an Afghan biscuit is/was, as can be seen from the picture it features chocolate and a bit of walnut, the biscuit itself didn’t seem to taste of anything as the topping was quite thick and so took over any flavour that was there. It was okay though, nothing special.

The coffee looked pretty and tasted nice, sugar added, stirring once again destroyed the pretty pattern. Not too strong, or hot really, although i was messing about with the biscuit and my phone which could have taken the heat from the drink.

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The place itself is open and spacious, variety of seating options, although the sofa’s were guarded by those already positioned, defending the leather to the death. The staff were friendly, bit strange that although not that busy they deliver your coffee to you, or try to, I wasn’t the only one who had to get the waitresses attention and steer her the right way, maybe some kind of device to indicate who gets what, like a flag, or table number, would help her out.

Although nothing particularly special I could see myself visiting again, just to try to bag a sofa and smugly take up the whole thing.

As a postscript I have researched their website and the Afghan biscuit is “A New Zealand favourite chocolate biscuit, with added icing and a signature walnut on top” which makes sense as to why they have the big white feather on the wall, they have Kiwi origins, probably.

 

Everbean – Avery Row

I was just ambling around as it was a lovely sunny day, and when ambling I like to explore those little alleys and side roads that normally get rushed past. My only aim was to buy socks (mission accomplished) but I knew there had to a be a coffee stop too. It was a solo coffee as Kerry was in Nottingham, so coffee and cake, no kisses.

I was aiming roughly towards Rapha as it has had it’s cafe extended and refurbished and I’ve not tried it since, but as I passed an alleyway I saw a sign saying “hand made cakes” and so I followed it. I found the cafe easily and went straight in. Lots of cakes on offer so I stood and admired for a few moments whilst thinking what to have.

Everything looked amazing but I opted for a fruit scone as I was in the mood for something a little less sweet, and a large latte, didn’t consider asking for decaf as I wanted the extra kick! Total price was £4.20, a bargain really.

The coffee was very nice – I was trying to be good and not have sugar, but I relented and added 1 spoonful, the coffee was just a touch too bitter without for my taste buds. One problem with adding sugar is it destroys the pretty pattern on top of the drink.

The scone was very nice indeed, soft and light, clearly hand made. Butter is a guilty pleasure, but as the scone came with it I would be churlish to refuse of course.

The cafe itself is really nice – seating in the window in an arc to follow the shape and a large table which dominates the area, if you have 7/8 friends you could take it over, or if alone just share with any other occupants – big table meant more room for reading the paper, a very good selection on offer too. Couple of tables outside and a small mezzanine too – Kerry would have opted for that so she could people watch from on high.

The staff were friendly and busy without making me feel in any way rushed or in the way. I will be visiting again, whether alone or with Kerry in tow as it is a really relaxing place to sit and enjoy a coffee and snack and let time just flow.