I haven’t stepped out of the house much other than for groceries, heading to the library or for work. There hasn’t been much venturing towards coffee shops and I have missed that coffee shop atmosphere, the scent of beans brewing, the bustling back and forth by waiters from tables to bar and for neat freaks like you and I, the sight of assorted cakes, cookies, breads all perfectly laid out on trays or stands behind glass covers. I’m a coffee shop girl through and through; and I like bringing work or reading with me to a coffee shop because the atmosphere always gets my motivation going. I’m not going to deny the romance of a smooth black cuppa, and the flaneur-esque peaks I take out of the window whilst sat at a table all to myself. I’m always at such peace in a coffee shop, pensive and sometimes a little relieved (maybe because of the temporary escape from city-paced walking out on the streets). Time seems to slow down to the beats of dripping filtered coffee, ticking away within its own coffee shop universe that is as uncomplicated as a scone, jam and clotted cream. I heart it, and surely many others of you do.
But hanging out in London coffee shops sometimes is much too much effort. The cost of travelling to one (the Starbucks here in Old Street ain’t that bad but it’s just a little too squishy for my liking and hasn’t anyone realized that Starbucks coffees aren’t that impressive) is not great for a poor student like me, walking to the amazing quirky little ones which stock Monmouth coffees out in Shoreditch is just too distracting sometimes, especially when your table-neighbours are wearing lame silver leggings, have streaks of bright green in their hair and this is all some time before midday. And then there’s the cost of sitting in the coffee shop. It’s not the coffee that’s expensive. It’s the other stuff that I can’t resist ordering. I can’t nurse a lone coffee. I’m just not that type of girl. I’d need a cookie, or a pannetonne, or a fruit tart, or a scone, or even lunch and the whole shebang. I’d be broke by the end of the month if I kept up my coffee shop habits like I normally do back home or during my undergrad days (when I got free coffees through a friend).
Things changed this week though. I handed in one essay 4 days early and I thought this sort of behaviour just had to be rewarded! So I visited Le Pain Quotidien in Goodge Street for a little sit down with my library books. No food photos I’m afraid but I was thoroughly impressed with the atmosphere and the communal dining table. I didn’t order much except an iced black coffee (which came extremely milky because the dude with dreadlocks who took my order was ditzy to the core), a flourless oh-I’m-in-love-type of brownie (which was expensive for the size of it but worth ever penny because it was seriously good) and an Americano after. The coffee was really good and I loved that it came in little bowls – true Frenchness gets my thumbs up.
And then today, I nearly lost my job. It’s a real long story but let’s just say the good news is that I didn’t lose it in the end. And I’ll have to thank my Mama’s fighting spirit that I’ve inherited for that. Well after the whole meeting, my brain was all a little fuzzy and my stomach – which had not stopped growling all through this serious meeting – was about to throw in the towel. Hence, my 2nd coffee shop trip/treat of the week was well justified. Again, I had no camera on hand. But from the outside, the stylish brown Princi sign was like light at the end of a dark tunnel. Stepping through the glass doors into this underworld of glorious breads, the sound of excited chatter, the smell of flour and cheese, the clinking of wine glasses, the spitting and hissing of opening cans of soft drink – it was truly my safe haven. And the interiors don’t get any more chic than Princi’s.
I ordered a slice of woodfired margherita pizza and an Americano (which wasn’t as impressive as Le Pain’s I’m afraid), had a great big chat with the mates at work on my Blackberry whilst this beautiful man next to me flipped through a Tom Ford folder. The lady on my right was reading the paper. The sound of the pages turning was quite comforting and reminded me of my Dad who reads the paper every morning religiously. Although there are quite a few tables and communal ones about, I was attracted to the bar at the back. I love bar stools so naturally I zoned in on that area quick as anything. The zen water feature of running taps in front of the bar tables was very nice too. See what I mean about the safe haven?
I’m loving this place so much I can’t wait to visit again. On my next visits to Princi and Le Pain Quotidien, expect more pictures! Til then, check out what I took home with me: Tiramisu and Olive Bread. You so have to love Princi for making their cakes in neat little rectangles!
135 Wardour Street
Tel.: 020 7478 8888
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7.00-00.00 Sun 9.00-22.00