The other week we mentioned how the lower Kentish Town Road is becoming a real destination for quirky indie cafes, from Arancini to Bintang, Doppio to Guanabana. This week another joined the throng – and it’s a corker.
A two-floor concept, it makes clever use of its ostensibly tiny space: upstairs there’s a bare wood counter, white tiling and jars on shelves. A blackboard lists daily specials and lunch options; piled high are tray bakes, cookies, custard filled brioche buns, gluten-free cakes and savoury tarts. A counter faces the window, with a small alfresco terrace beyond; downstairs, a snug lounge is cutely furnished, and might suit those wishing to block out noisy old KTR, and concentrate on the beans (or a good book).
Friendly owners Rich and Klara serve up an interesting tale of how they ended up back in their old stomping ground of north London. After years in the south-east suburb of Brockley, where Klara was a teacher, the couple were about to abandon the capital for Brighton – before stumbling across this disused unit which, they say, costs less than a similar-sized space in the oversubscribed seaside resort.
So anyway, we popped by yesterday lunchtime to try, amongst other things, the “t’riffic toasts”. A very vogueish offering, they chalk up three daily options: a classic beetroot and goat’s cheese, a really good smoked mackerel and horseradish – and avocado and tabasco, our only niggle with the latter being it should be mashed, Caravan-style, not sliced, for maximum moreishness.
Best of all? Why, the homemade quails’ egg sausage roll “with a kick”, hand-crafted daily by Rich, who builds wells into the sausage meat and breaks the mini yolks into it before baking. The result is herby, moist and fiery (that’ll be the chilli), with delectably flaky pastry. In fact, we’ve never seen Kentishtowner mascot Pepper lick her lips so frantically as she watched something disappear into a human mouth.
Of course we must mention the coffee, too. The pair have plumped for a “house” blend, so “people know what they’re getting if they’re regulars,” says Rich, sensibly.
But what a blend: a double espresso of their Redchurch Street-based Allpress was smooth and balanced, as good Arabica beans should be, with just a hint of caramel. Co-editor Tom’s americano had a slightly too great water-to-coffee ratio (although a long black earlier in the week was spot on). And we shared a creamy carrot and coconut cake, supplied by London-based bakery Breadren, “a high quality start-up”, says Klara.
They are keen to win over the community, so deals abound all weekend, including a “buy one get one free” cake offer today, fun quiz tomorrow (for a fortnight’s free coffee) and “community focus day” on Sunday. Look out soon for a show from our very own SecretArtistNW5.