Friday, July 2, 2010
Cawfee crawl, part 2.
After Holbeck I needed to stretch my legs a bit so walked to Clarence Dock, where I knew there was at least one coffee shop and wondered if there were more than that. On the way I walked through Brewery Wharf, which has a deli that served coffee but I wasn't really that fussed about trying it; deli coffee is rarely more than "ok", because they tend not to focus on the coffee, it's just a value added in addition to everything else they sell. The walk to Clarence Dock is very nice, by the way, along the riverside.
It turned out that there is only one indie coffee place at Clarence Dock; Hob. All of a sudden, coffee started costing £2, which was a bit of a surprise. The place itself is a cookware shop, selling trendy ceramics and baking tins, with half the shop given over to phenomenally comfortable sofas. Again, the coffee is brought to you, and this time it's in a branded mug; this time for Real Bean.
This was the first coffee to have a crema on. It smelled ok, but with an odd medicinal undertone that came through in the coffee itself. Saying that, it had good followthrough in flavour and was very smooth across the palate, with very little bitterness. This was very much a coffee for people who liked socialising - it still tasted perfectly fine when it had cooled down quite a bit.
An odd thing happened while I was here; lots of people - ladies of "a certain age" - all dressed in red and back came in. As I was leaving I spotted more of them in the cafe at the Royal Armouries, and more stood outside Saville Hall, and as I walked along the dock to the main road even more started pouring in. They weren't in uniform, per se, it was like a conference of people all supporting the same charity, like a red and black ball. Made me wonder what they were all up to, but of course I don't like to talk to totally random people about their sartorial choices.
I was informed that the delightful Jo was at La Bottega Milanese, so off I headed. I'd been warned that Alex doesn't like serving americanos but there we are, I ordered one anyway. What happened next was incredible. I was given an espresso in a slightly larger cup, and a jug of hot water.
Frankly, this is outstanding behaviour and I can see why this place has picked up such rave reviews. It's tiny, a shoebox facing onto the Calls with space for three friendly people to stand inside, and a handful of tiny tables outside, and is delightful. Friendly, cheerful, exceptionally good product and he serves coffees with little amaretti biscuits. The coffee itself was utterly brilliant; a strong, powerful espresso that had good crema and a great aroma, and tasted exactly like a good espresso should do. The hot water smoothed it out a bit and this was probably the best americano I'd get to try all day. £1.45, and a total joy to behold. Jo's mocha was also good - exactly the right amount of sweetness, and made correctly by layering. The cakes look great, too.
Finally, for this leg, is Anthony's at the Corn Exchange. We only went to the cafe, which is surprisingly reasonable, and after a bit of a wait for someone to turn up willing to serve us coffee, and a bit of confusion over which bit was which - there's a lot of Anthony's stuff in the basement of the CE - we found a table upon which to deposit our tray. This was the most expensive coffee of the day; £2.20 for an americano, and although it was good, it wasn't the best.
But the atmosphere in there is lovely, so Jo and I lingered over the coffee (despite the sofa being a bit hard). The coffee looked good and smelled great, and came with a crema again; there were inky depths to this one. A good, complex coffee with some great high citrus notes and a robust bassine but there was a faint singed aftertaste as it cooled down, and whilst powerful, this was a coffee best enjoyed hot. Whilst there I had a poke around the shops they have down there and I can cheerfully say these were fascinating. I could spend hours there, especially in the fromagerie, a climate-controlled room just for the purposes of leaving cheese out for all to see.
I should point out that all of the staff at all of these places have been wonderful; friendly, happy to serve and always with a smile and helpful attitude. Without exception, all the people who I dealt with were lovely.
Part 3 coming soon...