Blanche Eatery – Strutton Ground

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This is our first coffee and cake involving all three of us, now that we are all living in London. Alice has a Pret a Manger addiction but I pulled rank and said we had to go to somewhere new and found this place not far from St James Park tube station.

Alice had a latte and a slice of mud cake, I had a decaf skinny latte and a slice of red velvet cake, Kerry Americano and a slice of red velvet too – stealing my idea! Neither of us had had red velvet cake before so had no idea what to expect. WP_20140926_005

Kerry’s Americano was nice and thought the red velvet cake was lovely. I have to agree about the cake, so moist and just brilliant, lots of cream. She often can feel full after a slice of cake but it didn’t sit heavy at all, it tasted very fresh, baked that day on the premises if I had to guess. The lattes were both very nice too, smooth and just frothy enough.

WP_20140926_006 The place itself is nice, mainly two seater tables but we found a three seater in a kind of mezzanine level. It was rather tight though, fitting three coffees and 3 cakes on the table, sugar was moved to the floor. Only on the way out did we realise there was a seating area downstairs, could have done with a “more seating downstairs” sign or to have been told so by the staff.

Staff themselves were friendly enough, place itself was tidy and functional, probably not too much fun if busy as quite tight in places. Kerry thought there wasn’t enough choice, I had to disagree as it was quite late in the afternoon and there must have been at least 10 varieties of cake as well as various savoury options.

I’d like to go again, earlier in the day as they have a small market down the street too.

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Reddoor – Turnpin Lane

This place is tucked away near the market in Greenwich, which itself was rather cool, and well worth hunting out. Best way to get there is via the DLR, get off at Island gardens and used the foot tunnel under the Thames, you come out near Cutty Sark and into a very interesting and historic part of the city.

I had a decaf latte and a scone with butter and jam (supposed to be cream but they’d run out and I don’t like cream anyway) and Kerry had an Americano and a gluten free slice of chocolate cake with chocolate sauce.

The Americano was nice, came with pretty much a gravy boat full of milk so easy to make weaker if required. Kerry was gutted at no clotted cream so settled for the chocolate came, and it was a bit dry, I tried it and have to agree, even with the sauce it couldn’t be finished.

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My latte was nice, tasted like very good quality beans. The scone was nice, I was expecting it to be plain but was a fruit scone, so with the jam (strawberry) it made it quite sweet. The jam and butter came in egg cups, which was rather quirky

Quirky suns the place up well, a mish mash of design, random chairs and tables, all tables too low to get your legs under, weird art on the walls, Jimi Hendrix playing on the record player – yes vinyl, and a friendly guy serving us. It felt busy, mainly because it’s small, but didn’t feel rushed to move on, and had a cool vibe, without feeling like staged shabby chic. So good I left a tip!

St Martin in the Fields Courtyard Cafe

We just happened across this place last Sunday (when the Tour of Britain was in London for the final stage) and that’s the best way for coffee I am finding, not aiming to go to a certain place, just stumbling over somewhere at the right time.

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The setting is in the courtyard of St Martin in the Fields, so the name is no red herring, and although only a few minutes from Trafalgar Square it is nice and quiet and somewhat of a sanctuary. All outside seating, yet no smoking at all of them, however if you step just outside of the rope you can get your pipe and and blow back towards the cafe area, but odd but those were the rules!

Kerry had an Americano and an apple danish and I had a decaf latte and raspberry and white chocolate muffin, coffes were £2.30 each and cakes £2.90 each, nice and symmetrical pricing structure. And the milk for Kerry’s drink came is a cool mini milk churn.

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The latte was very nice, smooth and creamy, nice and big too. The muffin I was a little disappointed in as it was pre-packaged and given the air the place exuded I would have expected something a little more locally produced, not something that was almost identical to a McDonalds cake. Tasted nice enough, but first bite is with the eyes and that was seeing the plastic wrapping.

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The americano was nice, Kerry highly appreciative of the cool green mugs/glasses (picture wont upload sadly) and thought the apple danish was nice too, but nothing overly special either, did compare it to one from Greggs.

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Not sure we’d go back, nice enough place with relaxed vibe and attentive and friendly staff but menu was rather limited and there are just so many other places to try. Kerry expected more, such as sandwiches that could be made on site and to our requirements rather than pre-packed.

Paul Rhodes – Notting Hill Gate

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We’d been to Portobello Road Market and as it was a nice day decided to walk back towards Hyde Park, whilst keeping our eyes open for a coffee stop. We saw the standard chains but I was determined to find a less cookie cutter place, and then saw Paul Rhodes.

It is a fairly unassuming place from the outside, a few loaves in the window and not much else, but once through the door I saw the cakes and was decided.

Kerry had an Americano and a frasier whilst I had a decaf skinny latte and a royal cake. The total came to £12.50, which did feel a little expensive, it was the posh cakes that added to the total, coffee prices were okay, and a good sized cup too. And Kerry did take advantage of the free water too.

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The frasier was slices of strawberry with a small amount of sponge as a base, then cream, topped with a disc of marzipan with half a strawberry on top. The cream was thick, kind of like cheesecake, we don’t know what it is called but Kerry thought it was nice – after using google we now know it is crème patisserie. She isn’t a big marzipan fan but it was very thin and not overpowering.

Her coffee was nice too, very smooth, a little strong so extra milk was added. My latte was really nice, smooth too.

The royal cake was really nice, it was chocolate, with a different chocolate on top, dusted with chocolate and with chocolate squares on it! Probably not suitable for diabetics.

The place itself isn’t huge but really nice, friendly and helpful staff, very clean, a massive range of cakes and breads if that’s your thing, free water too, which impressed Kerry.

We will be going back at some point, either to this one or their other one in Greenwich, which I’ve probably passed as we live near there.

Tinderbox – Tottenham Court Road

This is a cafe within Paperchase – a generally dangerous shop to go in as we are both a little obsessed with stationary, but less than with coffee and cake so just about worked out. Kerry had a coke and a flapjack whilst I had a regular decaf skinny latte with a slice of chocolate and vanilla cake, total price £8.80.

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Kerry loves coke when it comes from a glass bottle, says it tastes better, not sure how scientific that is but it does stay colder in a glass bottle longer for sure. The flapjack was nice, just a simple recipe, nothing fancy in it which would put her off. My latte was nice, acceptable size for a regular too. It wasn’t too bitter and I got about half way through it before I decided to add a little sugar. The chocolate and vanilla cake was very nice, when I asked for it I was a little disappointed she cut a slice off the huge slab behind the counter, I had a slight hope I would get the whole thing!

The cafe itself is simple, Kerry did think the choice of cakes wasn’t the best, which may have been due to the time of day, maybe not. A lot of the tables give views over Tottenham Court Road, not the prettiest view but okay for people watching as it does get busy. Only one member of staff as it was later in the day but she was friendly enough, even if seemingly a little flustered when the queue got to more than one. Not the short of place we will go out of our way to visit but should we happen to be buying a fluffy pen I am sure we will pop up.