There’s no lack of bijou cafés in Crouch End that look pretty and serve decent nosh – mums with buggies and the self-employed with laptops fit right in here.
Coffee Circus only opened a few weeks ago, but is already regularly packed and has a pleasantly lived-in feel. It looks like an old-fashioned tea shop – there’s a solid wooden serving stand, cutely mismatched furniture and antique cheval-glasses.
Fun details, such as musical notation wallpaper and a mini carousel, add a note of playfulness. One could easily sit here for hours, perhaps reading a book from the shelves in the corner (several Eastern European authors in English feature – one of the owners is Lithuanian).
The menu is petite but fresh and carefully chosen. Spinach soup was tangy, served with salmon flakes and a bowl of olives. Ciabatta with aubergine and haloumi was tasty, although a bit on the small size. From a good selection of organic cakes we really liked the crumbly and suitably sweet wheat-free lemon polenta cake with pistachio.
A daily changing offer of soup, baguette and drink for £8.50 will no doubt attract locals; kids will love toast with a pot of chocolate spread.
The emphasis here is clearly on coffee and tea, which is also sold by weight to take away. Union Hand-Roasted coffee is made with care (the owners have stalls in Camden Town too).
There’s an interesting selection of teas served in glass pots – try the intensely smoky Russian caravan or heady Earl Grey blue flower. Hot chocolate was good too, with a noticeable kick of chilli.
Service is a highlight – warm, jokey and attentive. Coffee Circus has all the ingredients to become a local favourite, especially if the food portions are served with a little more generosity.