Archive for May, 2012

Had coffee at The Haberdashery in Crouch End today.

This is another of those places that is becoming a bit of a Crouch End institution (see earlier comments re Banners!) which considering it’s only been here a couple of years is pretty good going in a place over-run with chichi coffee bars. It’s a favourite of CE’s army of yum mums and today has a steady stream arriving, staying until their kids shriek too much and then leaving to be replaced by the next contingent. You would assume it was called The Haberdashery because it took over a shop formely occupied by a haberdashery, but I’m pretty sure this was a crappy little mini-mart until thses guys moved in. Still I guess “The Crappy Little Mini-Mart” was never going to pull in the same crowd.

The deocor is standard Cath Kidston 1950s kitsch; bleached wood, linen flags, mismatched chairs. It’s done pretty well and manages to look cluttered without feeling too cramped. I normally hate this kind of look but I actually think the place feels kind of nice. They use bowls for coffee instead of cups:

which strikes me as a bit hinky, but you get a lot of coffee and it’s not as annoying as you’d think. They also bake their muffins in tiny flowerpots- no idea why.

I have a latte today rather than a macch and its very good.

I also had one of these:

which as £3.75 is not cheap but it’s a damn good bacon sandwich. Not quite as good as the bacon sandwiches at the Frizzante Café at the Hackney City Farm, which are hands down the best bacon sandwiches in town, but its close.

The highlight of my visit is listening to the cute foreign waitress relating her dream to the owner about hearing some song that she’d never heard before and how it had made her remember something she couldn’t remember and that it had made her feel “funny”* and then after listening to her go through all this for five minutes he said, “ you know what that all means don’t you? It means you’re nuts.”

Oh, and James McAvoy was there (in The Haberdashery, not the cute waitress’s dream). He had a coffee and bought some of the muffins in flowerpots to go- maybe it’s a Hollywood thing.

*I don’t know if her inability to explain this was due to her limited grasp of English, the ineffable and elusive quality of dreams of that she was just a bit retarded.

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Or the Stable Door as we like to call it. This is one of those Crouch End institutions I mostly like to avoid, like Banners (“Hi can we have breakfast here?” ” Have you got a reservation?” “No, it’s breakfast. Who makes a reservation for breakfast?” – that was about seven years ago; haven’t been back since).

My previous experience of the Sable d’or is  that it’s a little cramped and I find the wait-staff a little sniffy and it seems to attract a certain kind of upscale CrouchEnder who might look down on someone bringing in a kid that likes to use their straw to blow bubbles in their coke and then make it come out of their own nose.

Any how, I went there today with the older of my two children (the one slightly less likely to make stuff come out of her orifices in public) and it was pretty good.

First the coffee (obv.):

Double macch (obv.) which was a little biscuity and strong. Not unlike Rileys.

The decor is actually pretty nice and kind of French rustic farmhouse: holes in the brickwork, unvarnished wooden tables. The space is cramped and about the same size and shape as My Kind of Coffee, but used way better and I guess if you were feeling charitable you could call it cosy (although really, it’s cramped).

As I was feeding a post-swimming lesson 7 year old we also ate and the sandwhiches were good. I had a goat’s cheese avocado and tomato on brioche, which I ordered by mistake but was a good combo; cake with cheese, who knew?

The only other down side apart from the crampiness was the wait-staff. Since I was last there they seem to have got shot of the sniffy French ones and replaced them with uber-fierce Eastern European ones who give the impression that should you ask them to replace a dirty fork or fetch you a little cold milk they would just as readily bludgeon you with a peppermill for your decadent Western airs.

Today I visited the Crouch End coffee bar that boasts the most expensive coffee in London: Jamaican Blue Mountain (I guess they’re not counting that stuff you can buy made from the coffee beans that some Sumatran cat shits out).

My Kind of Coffee is just about opposite the Virgin gym in central CE and has been there for about six months. I’m givng it about the same before it packs up.

It makes a big deal about grinding and selling coffee on the premises and they have a big fat grinder (that’s a machine, not a pejorative term for a waitress or anything) out front as as well as a whole bunch of beans and blends by the bag. The décor is cluttered, cramped and a little schiz; I’m willing to bet that during the meeting with the interior designer the word “eclectic” was thrown about more than a few times. I like the hessian coffee sacks on the walls. I love the photographs of desolate Midwestern diners, parking lots and gas stations (by Marina Ansell, all for sale). I really dislike the weird, uncomfortable union jack upholstered chairs. They’ve also got some kind of postmodern Centre Pompidou thing going on with the ventilation pipes running across the ceiling in full view. The fact that it’s held up with twisty ties makes me think it’s less of a statement of Bauhaus  function and utility and more a touch of “where shall we stick this ugly-ass pipe thing… oh whatever.”

I order a  double espresso of the Jamaican Blue Mountain and £4 ( £3 single). It has a smell I can best describe as complex. It’s not at all unpleasant, with a little orange and oddly, something that I can’t quite put my finger on but that makes me think of Chinese food; maybe they just didn’t wash the cup very well. It actually smells pretty good in a weird way. The taste is a little lemony but still smooth and although I prefer the more biscuity kind of joe, if you like a floral, citrusy espresso, then this seems like a good one.

Oh and they bring a glass of water with the coffee, you know, without you asking. I like that, although I don’t know if that’s just special service you get for laying out on the expensive stuff. To be honest though I was looking at the nice photos on the walls when the waitress brought my coffee, so I’m wondering if the glass of water was just left on the table from the previous customer. Oh well I’ve drunk it now.

Also, five minutes after I sat down the place was deserted. What good is that for a writer who gets all his best dialogue from eavesdropping on all the weirdoes that hang out in coffee bars?