You’ve got to hand it to the current owners of this charming little cafe right inside Camden Road Overground. After all, this is one NW1 site that has had so many lives in recent years.
Deep breath? Let’s remember a few. I first encountered it as a bar back at the turn of the millennium, when I worked in an office down on Royal College Street – but its name escapes me. Anyone?
Fast forward nearly a decade and it had become Meribel Brasserie, a kind of Camden twist on an Alpine restaurant; after that it morphed into the short-lived Mango Shack, sister to the hugely successful Mango Rooms (itself now sadly RIP).
And then nothing. Until, that is, a year or so back, when by far the best incarnation in a long time took over.
Hidden is a coffee shop, sure, and voguishly kitted out with its characterful painted boards, bare bulbs, and houseplants – what else these days? – piled on its shelves.
The espresso is strong, strong, strong: the daily roast is chalked up on the board (on our visit it was from a light-medium Colombia, with, it informed us, notes of blackcurrant and chocolate); and food-wise it’s all toasties, takeaway loaves of sourdough and sweet-savoury pastries.
Sure, nothing here is reinventing the wheel: but it’s a useful spot on a busy junction now quite rich with eating and drinking options; and the adjoining terrace makes for fun people-watching should autumn prove a tad more clement than it is currently.
And for such a bustling spot, it was nice to see that the staff seem to know every customer and their current situation – OK, I was ear-wigging just a bit – which makes this as neighbourhood as Camden gets. In the light of Chalk Farm Road’s ongoing demise, this is one to be celebrated.
Hidden Coffee Camden, follow @hiddencoffeecamden, daily till 5pm, 47-49 Camden Rd, London NW1 9SL