New one-off coffee shops take root every week in the fashionable parts of Hackney, but it takes a lot of nerve for a new independent to sign up for Soho rents. Damson & Co is one such brave little café, and it’s a looker. There’s good attention to detail in the shabby-chic, artfully functional interior. Many customers sit tapping away at their MacBooks over cups of freshly ground coffee, the roasts supplied by Ozone in Shoreditch. Cakes and snacks are on display.
Although primarily a café, there’s a good selection of bottled beers, wines by the glass, even a choice of gin and tonics. One large table of office colleagues were working their way through the sparkling wine selection on our first, lunchtime visit.
The savoury dishes are a good read – British charcuterie and cheeses, fresh seafood. The signature breakfast dish of ‘damson muffin’ was a well-stacked tower of omelette, baked beans and cheese, in a muffin that tasted like it might have been slightly stale before it was toasted. Presentation seems to take precedence over practicality: a dressed crab was served in a bowl of melting ice, which looked good, but slush kept tipping into the shell.
Damson & Co is a lot more personable than Soho’s many chain cafés, and it’s great for coffee. The food might not always live up to the promise of the high prices, but those rents have to be paid…