Hardcore Kentishtowners were lit up when our universally acclaimed kebab joint, E. Mono, confirmed they were taking over the vacant shop next door. However eyebrows then raised aloft when it emerged this was not to extend the ultra-pokey ‘bab-shop premises, but to launch a new patisserie concept called, er, Mike.
‘Why a cake shop?’ they cried. ‘What’s with the logo?’ they pondered. ‘And as for the legend ‘Coffee Forever’ – much head scratching ensued. It seems NW5’s most vocal supporters were expecting a dimly-lit vogue-ish restaurant/dive-bar.
But the surprise may turn out to be welcome. The oddly retro refit has slowly taken shape, and Mike is now open for business. It is only slightly less pokey than its neighbour, with room for a few tables at the back and out front.
An artisan French baker provides a daily selection of breads and pastries. She gave us a taste of croissants fresh from the oven and explained her issues trying to source certain chocolate and getting her own supply of live yeast up and running.
At the weekend we had already tried one of their weighty loaves of dense white bread with a pleasingly crusty crust and almost gooey fresh centre, plus a spinach empanada that didn’t suffer the usual affliction of a poor filling to pastry ratio. The waitress told us that plenty more freshly baked products were still to make their debut at the counter.
But with ‘Coffee Forever’ above the door, what of the espressos? Well, Mike has its own branded beans, prepared and packed in Italy.
The as yet-to-be-confirmed blend (we think at least 90% arabica) provided a strong and punchy shot, served in attractive Mike-branded crockery too. It really is all about Mike.
Still, this is very early days and there’s clearly room for artisan baking on the KT Road. And once again E.Mono-Mike PLC are leading the way.
Words & Pics: Tom Kihl