London Review Cake Shop. Yep, that’s where I ended up today. How? God only knows. But I’m glad I did.
Admittedly this isn’t as much a coffee connaiseur’s place as the other ones I’ve recently visited and written about. Don’t get me wrong, the coffee is good. Not just good, it’s miles better than what you get at the normal coffee-chain / corner-shop kind of place. And, once again, it’s the famous London based roastery (I’m not even going to mention their name this time, scared for you guys thinking I’m sponsored by M*******. Unfortunately that’s not the case) that’s providing the beans. The cappuccino I ordered arrived promptly and at the standard you can expect. However, the little extra “something” was missing. The foam wasn’t the way I prefer it. Not as smooth and clean on the palate as I’m used to when a very good barista makes it. Not that I want to be overly fussy or anything. No, I just want the best there is. Is that too much to ask? The espresso base was very good though so all in all I was happy with my drink. Just not ecstatic.
The carrot cupcake was heaven though. Unfortunately they’d run out of the famous lavender one I really wanted to try, but if they are better than this one, well… I just have to go back and try at a later stage I guess. What a pity.
What really makes this place such a nice haunt is that it is what it is in it self. No excuses. Since it’s adjacent or immediately attached rather, to the London Review Book Shop on 14 Bury Place, it creates a very nice and relaxed atmosphere. When I was there it wasn’t particularly busy so those of us there were basically just sitting reading and drinking coffee. Since Bury Place is one of the streets just off Great Russell Street, where British Museum is situated, you get a lot of regular Londoners who enjoy a peaceful coffee and want to read a paper or magazine instead of the buzzing student crowd. This makes it a nice place for some relaxed down time with any kind of written medium, really.
The Cake Shop’s interior is different from the other places I’ve written about over the last few days as well. When you’ve found your way in via the History section in the book shop you’re met by a very contemporary till made of light faux wood of indescribable origin. On the side of the till is a glass display full of lush cakes, pies and sandwiches. The cupboards behind the till are almost IKEAesque in their plainness. But it doesn’t look bad. Not bad at all. It works well for this kind of place. It isn’t trying desperately hard like so many other London coffee houses are right now. They give you what you need, neither more nor less. For a place where you want a good coffee and some time to think, as well as the possibility to browse among books galore, this is where you should go. It is bright thanks to the big windows facing Bury Place and a fairly high ceiling. It’s also got a big outside sitting area during the summer.
For a Sunday afternoon like today, this was the ideal place to go. And in top of it all, I got to spend time among an abundance of new hardback titles which is always divine in this paperback infested world.