I deliberately annoy people by saying that Hampstead is my spiritual home, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been in many a bean-hole in the area in the last X years. Waterstone’s has been here as long as my memory goes back but the cafe is a recent addition located upstairs at one end of the building. I’ve been up here a few times in the past for book readings; one by David Baddiel where I met dour Scottish Jew comic Arnold Brown. ‘Can I take you photo?’ I asked him ‘Why?’ he replied. I said ‘Fair enough’ and walked away, not really bothered either way. He looked a bit forlorn but then doesn’t he always?
Any road up, the staff behind the green metro-tiled counter were friendly enough. One girl (resembling a dykey Rebecca Adlington) was an asset and when there was no queue, entertained friends on fleeting visits with lesbo gossip about K.D. Lang*. Soon after, a mothery type (possible ‘L’) turned up to flirt with her but that could be my usual over-active imagination. She was probably just ordering a toasted tea-cake.
There was one (disabled) toilet which was dirty and lacked bog roll (like everywhere is Britain) and was so bad I thought I was in a cinema bathroom. Comfort in the caff itself was a wooden chair but some more comfy leather-backed bonkets are available. Quite a nice chilled vibe of slow hip-hop flute music (WTF!) whilst my area was downlit by papery lamps. And the wifi worked well despite my table being in a ‘notspot’. The book shop and counter was the main focus for the eyes but there are a few books (surely not) and boxes of tea scattered around on shelves for your visual excitement.
Had a tea (Joe’s TeaCo) which was fine and cakes tempting but plumped for a soughdough smoked bacon toastie which although scrumptious, made me inflate like the Mr Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Clientele was predictable; studious bookish middle classes, Americians and students. Not that student’s aren’t bookish people and Americans aren’t MC. But basically there were no chavs and no dippers. So bags were safe and no need for a stab-vest so all good there.
The only turd in the punch bowl was a screaming baby mothered by someone very ethnic but to be fair she did try and shut the little fekir up. My cue to go before I say something I shouldn’t.
So here it’s Grimm on the shelves and grim in the toilets.
* Probably – though my hearing is not what it was. 🙂
Good: Staff, food, clientele