However since we got into lockdown I’ve not been able to visit my usual places for coffee and enjoy a flat white.
As lockdown is now easing, our local Starbucks, which is a drive-thru, has re-opened, but only for drive-thru, you can’t go and sit down and drink coffee.
I try and avoid takeaway coffee, as for me it’s not just about the coffee, but the whole coffee drinking experience. So though I could drive to Starbucks and get a flat white in a cardboard cup, and then drink it in my car, I am not quite sure why I would do that?
What I am looking forward to is going out for a coffee. Ordering the coffee, maybe a cake or pastry and then sitting down to enjoy that overall coffee drinking experience.
When I am in London (and elsewhere) and needing a coffee I try and find somewhere not only new, but try and find a place which I wouldn’t find locally in the South West, whether that be an independent, or a “local” chain.
I was at the services on the M42, and rather than go into the main building, I went to Starbucks, which stands alone, mainly as it is a drive through (not a thru) but has a “normal” bit as well with tables and chairs.
I ordered a flat white, like I usually do, and I was reminded why when it comes to coffee that I rarely go to Starbucks as the coffee tasted as though the beans had been over-roasted, so great coffee taste, but left a rather unpleasant burnt after-taste.
Despite the coffee, the flat white had been prepared really well, the milk was smooth, velvety and light as it should be. I quite enjoyed it in the end.
I was on my way to Coco di Mama in Fitzrovia when I noticed next door another really nice looking cafe, very fresh and smart. Lots of light wood, bright lights and wooden furniture.
A very bizarre name, Kiss the Hippo Coffee, but I am always willing to try a new place for coffee. I went in and there was a warm and friendly welcome. It was quite early in the day, so wasn’t too busy. I ordered a flat white. I was then able to sit down and the coffee was brought to my table.
I do like it when coffee places do that, so much nice, than standing around waiting for your name to be called in an impersonal manner.
In the midst of shopping decided to stop at Paterisse Valerie in Cribbs Causeway for a quick coffee. Actually we didn’t want a quick coffee, what we wanted to do was take a break from the crowds, sit down and have a coffee. We did consider going to Pret a Mange, but the queue was really long, and at least with Paterisse Valerie we could sit down and chat while we waited and while we waited for the coffee.
We ordered a few drinks, but I went with a flat white, whilst my eldest went with a latte.
For a French sounding place I feel I really should have had a cafe au lait, but the reality was that no such coffee was on the menu.
The flat white was strong and intense with the smoothness of the milk offering a nice contrast.
The place was busy, so service was slower than I might like, but we spent the time chatting, so it wasn’t an issue.
Arriving at Weston-super-Mare railway station for my train to Manchester I had some time for a quick coffee.
I usually catch my trains from Worle station, I am still astounded that for what is a relatively small town, Weston-super-Mare has three railway stations. The main station at Weston-super-Mare which is on a loop from the main line. This opened in 1841.
There is a halt further down that loop called Weston Milton. This station opened in 1933
Despite having two stations, a third station, Worle Station was opened in 1990.This was the fourth station to serve Worle, the previous station to serve Worle closed in 1964.
What is nice is that the mainline trains to London from the West start their route as commuter trains from Taunton or Weston to Bristol and stop at these smaller stations. In the olden days (okay a few years ago) when the London trains were HSTs, the trains were too long for Worle platform so only four coaches would be able to open their doors, the same happens today with the new nine coach Inter-City Express Trains (IETs).
Anyhow I was at Weston-super-Mare as I was catching a CrossCountry service to Manchester and this train calls at Weston-super-Mare and then calls at Bristol Temple Meads, so it doesn’t call at Worle.
At Weston-super-Mare station there are two cafes. One which has been there for a while is a typical old school station cafe and I have never really been enamoured with the refreshments available from there, I have had the odd cup of tea, but usually I just avoid it. The other new cafe is much more my cup of tea… though I usually drink coffee. Actually to call it new, just shows I am getting old, as it had been there quite a few years now. I can’t quite remember when it opened, but I have had some nice coffee from there, and it’s also a nice place to sit and wait for the train. I think it has changed hands a few times as well between when it opened and now.
So this morning having about fifteen minutes before my train I decided to pop in and have a quick coffee. They have stools, sofas and chairs. The decor is rather quirky with old trunks serving as tables and lots of old wood. The walls (which I remember once they had artwork on the walls) are covered in coffee names and slogans.
I chose a simple single espresso. What is nice is that when drinking in, they serve their coffee in a proper china cup. This was great coffee, strong, intense and delicious. I could have had another one, but my train arrived.
One of the hidden treasures of the coffee scene in Bristol is Hart’s Bakery. Even finding the place is a bit of a challenge, as to say it’s off the beaten track doesn’t really do justice to the actual location. I find the best way to describe it’s location, is to say it’s underneath Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station. You can access it from the turning into Bristol Temple Meads from Temple Way. If you come out of the main entrance of Temple Meads and turn left, there is a metal staircase down and you can find Hart’s Bakery there.
They do some great food, but on my most recent visit, before I had to catch a train, I went with a Flat White. There was a warm welcome and after placing my order for the coffee, I sat down and my coffee was brought over to me once it was made.
It was an intense coffee experience, smooth with great flavours.I really enjoyed the coffee and would certainly go again.
I seem to be spending more time in London these days, and generally I am only up there for the day. Last month I was there for most of the week so stayed overnight. I was staying in a hotel that I actually wasn’t expecting to stay in, so I hadn’t had the time to do much research about places to eat nearby and I really didn’t want to end up at the hotel restaurant, as they can be terrible food and over-priced.
I really liked the look of Paesan close to the Exmouth Market as I walked past on my way to the hotel, and decided that this was certainly a possibility. I also liked the look of the menu at Paesan, simple yet sounding really tasty, as well as authentically Italian.
Inside the plain brick walls, wooden floors and simple furniture gave the place a rustic warm atmosphere. You can see into the kitchen and see what the chefs are doing.
The staff were friendly and welcoming and I was shown to my table and I looked over the menu.
I was tempted by lots of the small plates, particularly the carpaccio or the calamari alla griglia. To be honest I think I could have quite easily ordered all of them, however I wasn’t hugely hungry and I was on a budget.
There was a wide range of pasta on the menu, in the end I ordered the a large portion of the orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa.
I could see into the kitchen and it was interesting to watch the chef cook my food.
The food arrived in good time and looked great. I did expect it to be slightly larger than it was, but glad I didn’t go for the smaller “primi” size (which would be ideal for smaller appetites or lunch).
To be honest this was the best pasta I have had from any restaurant. The fresh pasta was cooked to perfection, al dente, the sauce was just about right.
I finished my meal off with a very Italian espresso, more like a ristretto.
The menu changes quite frequently so I am tempted to go back and try something new.