When it opened in 2012 in an empty estate agents, this was probably the best café in town though the competition was more flaccid than stiff. Then, I was a bit of a regular, a counter fly attracted by its cosiness, staff, service and the bean juice of course.
It’s true that this place has been going a bit in the Franz Klammer direction for a while now though. It’s looking tired like a café that hasn’t sleep for several weeks. These days I often find that the toilets resemble that of the nightclub at throwing-out time. And some of the furniture has seen better days; on some visits I felt I’d just missed a large bar-room brawl. Battered, wonky tables are often displaying the previous punters’ half-eaten paninis like some weird festering exhibit. Like a poorly-endowed man they are short-staffed. And while the current baristas are pleasant enough they aren’t exactly welcoming like the staff first employed here. While I’m not expecting a hug or a hand job, a ‘How are you?’ or a bit of idle banter over the Austrian wafers might be nice.
This café is dog-friendly but what does that mean exactly? That it is it not staffed by South Koreans? Often it seems there are dogs under and around every table in the cafe. To negotiate your way to the counter, you have to tread very carefully over a canine minefield. If you make it, you would expect your latte to be served by Paul O’Grady.
At the counter, I recognised an old classmate from school; an attractive woman who once thought she would marry a wealthy male model but ended up with a mechanic called Steve. As they queued, he asked his wife: ‘Paris? Is that the one with the tower?’ before ordering a ‘grandy latty’ in a thick northern accent whilst rubbing a dirty hand on her fake Louis Vuitton bag. She was one of the women who once longed for Jason Priestly but ended up with a man that looks like J.B. Priestly.
And in the late afternoon to a soundtrack of smooth jazz, you can observe lone mothers reading papers whilst trying not to choke on a muffin, delaying leaving to face their little Beelzebubs soon to be home from school.
The wifi is fast when you don’t get thrown back out on Sky’s landing page from The Cloud and there are some nice spots to park your botty at the back to browse and watch the world come go by or come in.
So coffee and food is still good but, in common with other coffee chains, does not exactly offer lots for food allergies in the way of sandwiches or paninis. Today, for charity, the barristas are wearing Star Trek uniforms so are just as likely to get Vulcan food as Vegan food.
Atmos. It is cosy. Coffee and food. Dogs (if you have one).
Poor food allergy choice. Mess. Toilets. Slow Service / Lack of staff. Needs a refurb. Dogs (if you don’t have one).