There are better sources of cake within a mufffin’s throw, but Hampstead has taken this affable coffee bar to heart; near closing time on a recent visit, staff were sending a small queue of disappointed locals away as the espresso machine had been switched off.
Mercifully, the tourist crowd hasn’t caught on to it yet. A hiply distressed Union Jack watches over the vaguely familiar actors and glossy-haired lovelies tapping on their laptops while sipping Square Mile lattes. There’s a communal table inside, but the pavement tables (with elegant felt rugs) beneath the fashionably dark brown awning are the most prized, though staff tend to be lax serving them.
The pipsqueak kitchen proffers the likes of sausage and cheddar frittata, own-made baked beans on sourdough toast, and punchy salads of lentils and ham; quality is good and ingredients carefully sourced, but the pricing is ambitious. We like the fact that they will grind beans for home use – many high-end coffee bars refuse. Success has led to new branches in Belsize Village and Soho.