London Lovin’: W6 Garden Centre Café

“This is our way of celebrating the great city we live and work in. Where others see nothing but debris and stone, we see the possibility of a truly life-enhancing experience.”
– W6 Creative Director Paul Holt.

I was pleasantly thrilled to be amongst privileged writers notified of the grand opening of W6 Garden Centre Café. This gem of a coffeehouse takes centerstage under the rail arches of Ravenscourt Park tube station, promising a soothing experience that will whisk you away from the trains running just metres above, by bringing a piece of old London back to life.

Judging from this hearty menu, the cafè can expect a long list of returning patrons. Nuala O’Connor, who previously worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe, helms the kitchen. To quote her directly, ”I want to see the cafe become established as a favourite for local people and a lovely discovery for new customers. We already serve fantastic coffee; I would like to match that with simple but delicious fresh food made with great ingredients, some of which we are even starting to grow ourselves in our herb garden.”

Yes, from a luxuriant herb garden, no less than a foliage in the interior to potted ferns on your dining table – these little green details makes W6 a perfect place to get in touch with nature. Just looking at snapshots of the greenery brings a sense of peace – who would not love these lush overhanging plants and walls of mossy bricks?

photo H&F ad

West Six Garden Cafe, Ravenscourt

West Six Garden Cafe Cappuccino

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Getting super excited by these photographs courtesy of David from W6 (thank you). I don’t usually write about cafés which I haven’t personally been, but this is too lovely not to share!

Am definitely adding this to my bucket-list on my next trip to London!

W6 Garden Centre Café
West Six Garden Centre & Cafe Ravenscourt Avenue
London W6 0SL
Opening hours: 
Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.00pm 
Sat & Sun: 9.30am – 6.00pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Caffe Vergnano 1882

A while ago, I got to enjoy some much desired me-time in London! Originally from France, the British branch of Caffe Vergnano 1882 sits right across from Chancery Lane station, a short walk away from the likes of Prufrock and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.

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Everybody else was shopping at SOHO or Oxford Circus whilst strangely I had nothing I needed to get. I guess it was too cold to be walking out there alone in the crazy winds, snapping random photographs of an ordinary day in London with my badly abused umbrella. Hence I took the time out and sat through the rain (no matter how bad the storm you just gotta tide it through)

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Nowadays I can’t stand being cooped up anywhere for long, but wherever I have piping hot latte and a book, I’m good to go. The ham & cheese croissant was amazingly toasty!

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What sets Vergnano apart from most commercial coffee-houses would be its classic sleek black chairs and walls, dimly-lit retro lights, and latte / espresso shots that come with a slice of cookie or chocolate. Not exactly setting itself up as that friendly neighbourhood café, but a place for business meetings, catch-ups between distant friends and formal gatherings. I’m told they also have franchises in Dubai & Mongolia!

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Despite all that positivity I’m not sure it serves the best espresso in London. I still love the latte from Department of Coffee and Social Affairs! Caffe Vergnano is a much quieter place probably ‘cos half its storefront is currently hidden behind construction works.

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Someday I would really love to visit its branch in Mongolia.


Caffe Vergnano 1882

337 High Holborn
London, United Kingdom
+44 20 7242 7119

London Lovin’: Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

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If you’re heading to Chancery Lane Station, you will find this neat little café hideout on Leather Lane, a short 5-minute walk from the subway station towards Holborn Viaduct. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is one of London’s most talked-about cafés on Yelp, TripAdvisor and many travel tip sites, and indeed the place serves up really good coffee.

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Somewhat comforted by their warm, textured brick walls and smooth black table tops, I was half expecting to see a burning fireplace behind the barista counter. Simply put, the place was just so welcoming! I could easily grab a quiet table at 1PM in the afternoon. There were many lone Londoners in the café, either furiously studying or jabbing away at their laptops with intent.

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Having just been to Waterstones, I had a few reads stored away in my bag for a peaceful afternoon. This is just the place to be! It isn’t too quiet as there were pleasant background chatters, but not loud enough to give me splitting headaches. I’m told that the place can get really noisy at its worst, especially in the evenings. Thankfully it was serene that afternoon. Best way to enjoy a cuppa smooth, and hipster-priced flat white!

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Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
14-16 Leather Lane
London
EC1N 7SU
Monday – Friday
07.00 – 18.00
Saturday & Sunday
10.00 – 17.00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Pure Waffle, Duke St London

Pure Waffle London

As mentioned previously, I had major unresolved cravings for waffles. Whilst everyone else went shopping at SOHO, I slinked into the stylish, contemporary waffle parlour to have the Pecan & Butterscotch Waffle with Ice Cream for lunch.

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The store manager Andy was extremely friendly and chatted with me! He commented on the books I was reading, talked about the Chinese zodiac (year of the horse etc) and asked if I was here on holiday – to which I said yes. He then gave me his contact and invited me to look for him every time I’m in London! What a great guy ^^. The Pecan & Butterscotch Waffles is, hands-down, the best waffle I’ve had in a long time. When my dessert came, a very nice black couple were just leaving the café and they casually told me “You’ll totally love that. I just ate the same one.” It’s insane! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the waffles were.

Pure Waffle London Pecan Butterscotch

Pure Waffle London Pecan Butterscotch 2

Each waffle is made to order, and toasted to my favourite kinda crispy. Topped with a scoop of fresh ice-cream, the combination is pure perfection. I was watching the waitress dribble butterscotch – they did it with so much precision and care. You feel as though they’re giving each dish so much attention!

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Food aside, the decor of Pure Waffle is minimalist and very comfortably spacious. It is thoughtfully furnished as a social hangout for large groups, with private tables and stands for couples and individuals. Definitely one of those earmarked cafés which I’ll bring my loved ones to when we come back to London, and also to look for Andy, the store manager!

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PURE WAFFLE
58 Duke St, London W1K 6JW, United Kingdom
+44 20 7629 0546

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

KULA Ice Cream Parlour & Coffee Bar

KULA Cafe Waffles London

To satisfy the major cravings I had for waffles, I googled “Best Waffles in Central London”. This Swedish gem of a café turned up multiple times in the search engine and I decided to hunt it down! Jet lag woke me up at 5am hence I was ravenous! KULA opens at 8am. I took the underground to Bond Street. The cafeé is at the corner adjacent to St Christopher’s Place, and easily recognized. Small warm and cosy, with splendid waffle choices, a spectrum of coffees and breakfast smoothies…on first impression it’s a lovely place to dine. Boy am I glad the place has WiFi.

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KULA Cafe Waffles London Fresh Fruits

To be honest, the service was terrible! The waitress / boss had a grumpy attitude, and my latte was served lukewarm (I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I’m Asian, and I have ‘tourist’ written all over my face, because she seemed much nicer to the regulars whom she recognised). Besides coffee, I had a fresh fruits waffle with maple syrup which was satisfyingly sweet. My fruits were indeed cold and fresh, and I felt that it was a hearty, healthy breakfast. I like my waffles crispy though! Mine came slightly soft :/ It was still yummy, disregarding the less than welcoming service.

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KULA Cafe Waffles London Cakes

It’s safe to say that I won’t come back, unless they do a menu revamp, or perhaps just to try their Swedish ice cream. A pity though, I would have loved this hangout a lot.

KULA Cafe Ice Cream

KULA Café
21 James Street London
W1u 1DS London, United Kingdom

Coffee in a Victorian Lavatory

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So, The Attendant is an abandoned underground toilet in London, refurnished into a café. Say what? I was skeptical about lingering lavatory smells but trust me, the café has been so thoroughly cleaned up, everyone’s literally eating off urinal walls.

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Pete Tomlinson and Ben Russel acquired the 1890′s victorian style London lavatory, and to capitalise upon its prime location, turned it into the existing café. Walking down the flight of stairs really felt like stepping into another realm, one that’s quite like the early 1900s.

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Because it’s winter and I’m perpetually hungry, thank god for this range of brunch sandwiches. Had a usual hot latte with a toasted ham, bacon & cheese muffin to go along. They also had cookies and fudge brownies that looked equally yummy. The underground haven promised warmth and protection against the February winds, which was why many people were holed up in the individual urinals, sipping coffees at their own leisure.

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Rereading an old Murakami classic: Norwegian Wood.

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From the curbside, you can even buzz for street level service and they’ll have coffee/food delivered up to you. But then again the space downstairs is too amazing, you’d wanna check it out! Come on, I mean, how many times in your life do you get to eat comfortably in a legit toilet?

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The Attendant
26-27 Foley St,
London W1W 6DY, United Kingdom
+44 20 7637 3794

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Lantana Café, London

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A tangy, zesty slice of gluten-free lemon polenta later, we were outta the small takeouts-only café. Their Fitzrovia store has a dine-in area which was brimming with people at lunch-time. The smaller Lantana patisserie is well and aesthetically stocked: banana bread, blueberry muffins, double chocolate brownies, oaty nutty choc chip cookies, flourless almond cakes and a standard coffee range.

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It’s not possible to be disappointed by sweets!!

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We walked here after getting off at Tottenham Court Road and walked into Charlotte Place – a small lane filled with many cool independent eateries and stores! So many things to see and do, so little time.

Lantana Café
13 Charlotte Pl, Fitzrovia,
London W1T 1SN, United Kingdom
+44 20 7637 3347

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Charles Dickens Coffee House, Covent Garden

Charles Dickens Coffee House

Evening cuppa at Charles Dickens Coffee House! This was once the busy office where Dickens published his periodical All The Year Round from 1859 until his death in 1870. I sipped on weak herbal tea with milk and had a slice of cheesecake to calm a crazy stream of thoughts. Can’t even begin to count the reasons why I love Covent Garden: accessible WiFi hotspots, neat indie cafés and hangouts that remain open way past midnight.

Charles Dickens Coffee House London

Tasteless herbal tea and one of the worst cheesecakes ever. Still, I’m liking the serenity and mad affordability.

Charles Dickens Coffee House Covent Garden

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Charles Dickens Coffee House Cheesecake

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Covent Garden at sun-down: only then can you see this district come alive!

26 Wellington St,
London WC2E 7DD,
United Kingdom
+44 871 426 3659
Mon-Sun:
7.00am – 12.00am

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Patisserie Valerie

Tucked away in the streets of Notthing Hill is a Patisserie Valerie –
great wifi connectivity, comfy sofas, and mad awesome latte with cake!
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As it is now late-summer, London is all overcast skies and occasional light drizzles, which is perfect for a hot cuppa.
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Nothing makes me gladder than to see a spacious cafè with an inviting storefront.
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Also, loved how deep the cafè went despite the small shopfront, so there’s actually loads of privacy.
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On the Patisserie menu:
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Mille Feuille, Chocolate Florentine, Macarons…and a heavenly selection of pastries!
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My piping hot cuppa regular latte
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& this mad amazing strawberry gateau to go with!
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Due to jetlag I was up pretty early and was one of their first dine-in customers of the day. Plus I was trolling Notting Hill for Waterstones, Daunt Books and Book Warehouse!! Walking meant that I needed caffeine.
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Felt as though I was very much spying on somebody!! *cues 007 music*
Sorry ol’ mate!
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Not only do they have pastries, cookies and a myriad of cakes, their all-day breakfast/brunch and specialty sandwiches menu is also to-die-for.

Between devouring my cake and sipping on latte, WiFi and Patisserie Valerie’s in-store selection of magazines kept me occupied for a good 2 hours. Had this prolonged bubbly seventh-heaven satisfaction that I always feel after a pleasant cafè experience.

94 Holland Park Avenue
London W11 3RB

London Lovin’: 3 Cafès to try along Oxford Circus

Of many the indie and chain coffee joints along Oxford Circus,
I’ve made a list of 3 cafès I have to try when I’m back
(because seriously, I want to but can’t be downing too much caffeine)

JOE & THE JUICE
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281 Regent Street
London W1B 2HE
Neighbourhoods: Fitzrovia, Marylebone

CAFÈ ROUGE
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11 Little Clarendon St
Oxford
OX1 2HP

MUSTARD CAFÈ
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40 Margaret Street, Marylebone
London, W1G 0JH

London Lovin’: Wild & Coffee Company

Sniffing out the best brews on my London cafè-hunt, I stumbled upon Wild & Coffee Company along Oxford Street.  photo DSCN3977_zps2785a179.jpg

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Dying for a mid-day coffee fix, I was so glad to see that it’s been labelled ‘London’s best coffee’.
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Though small and subtle, the interior decor is amazingly cosy. A really awesome place to sit and read while sharing a bench-table with strangers.

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Every cup of coffee is freshly brewed by the baristas! (whom I couldn’t figure out were Spanish or Italian)
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After a short wait, I was served my coffee.
I almost shed tears of joy while gulping down this piping hot latte.
It was so good, I can’t begin to describe how good it is. I have no words.
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I loved their latte!!
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There’s a separate corner for more people to fill in, but it’s pretty dark and private. The room was so quiet I felt intrusive so I asked the barista for permission to snap these!
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Wild and Wood Coffee is mad famous for their cronuts and they’ve won a number of awards for both their coffee and cronuts, apparently.
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So, are they worthy of being in the running for ‘London’s best coffee’?
HELL YES!
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Before I left, the barista asked if I’d be here the next day and I said, sadly no.
Firstly I can’t remember the way.
Secondly I will be sniffing out cafès along Notting Hill in the ‘moro!

One New Oxford St.,
Greater London WC1A 1BA

London Lovin’: Pret A Manger

It’s London Lovin’ Week!

Managed to tick something off my bucket list today:
spend an afternoon with coffee and a book, in London’s Pret A Manger.
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The name Prêt à Manger means ‘ready-to-eat’ in French. The first shop was opened in Hampstead, London.
(and please, it’s pronounced “pret-ah-mahn-zhay“, not “prettaye man-gurl”)

What I had this afternoon
“Barista’s Specialty”: Vanilla Latte
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Unlike your conventional fast food, Pret A Manger only produces fresh, handmade, and 100% organic sandwiches, croissants, fruits and tarts.

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And for 4pm on a Thursday afternoon, their Covent Garden store was exceptionally roomy!DSCN3909

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Coffee from Pret A Manger was also surprisingly really really good.
Instead of reading, I was leeching off Pret’s WiFi. Which was what 90% cafè-bums would do anyway, so, not guilty 😉
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Will be doing more cafè-hunting tomorrow and the day after!

65 Long Acre
London WC2E 9JD

5 Best Blogs on Cafès in London

This time tomorrow I will be in London, trolling SOHO’s awesome cafès. It’s time to share my favorite blogs when I’m seeking the best of UK’s brews!

The 5 Best Blogs on Cafès in London

Caffeine Mag
What it is: UK’s only consumer coffee magazine, available in independent coffee shops
What I love: Their dedication in seeking alternative to high-street coffee chains currently dominating the global coffee scene.

Coffee Hunter
What it is: A no-nonsense guide to cafès in mainly Shoreditch, SOHO and central London.
This guy definitely knows his stuff!
What I love: The writer, Peter Thomson, walks and talks and blogs coffee. He says things like “the flat white had pot marked bubbles and the crema had collapsed”. How can anyone not to trust this caffeine-ista?

Cozy Coffee Shops
What it is:  Review dedicated to artisan coffee and terrific independent coffee houses. Featured by the BBC in 2008, the page is still going strong after 7 years with über-regular updates.
What I love: The beautifully taken pictures and top-notch recommendations of indie cafès. When time permits, the duo (Mr and Mrs Cosy) also reviews cafès from Peru, Bolivia, etc.

London Thru Cafès
What it is: A blog andalso an app that maps the backbone of fabulous London coffee houses, with hundreds of great things to do nearby.
What I love: A comprehensive guide with crazy accessibility. The reviews pretty much names and covers all of UK’s popular and indie coffee chains.

London Coffee Blog
What it is: A quest to explore London’s ‘cute little independent coffee shops’. What I love: The personal touch that makes the reviews a tad closer to heart.

So if you’re a coffee-lover heading to London, discover these exciting cafès! It’s all about creating that perfect coffee moment, in the words of UK National Barista Champion, Simon Robertson: “However busy you are, in the time it takes you to finish that coffee your normal world is put on hold and you go somewhere else in your head. It’s about creating a moment, creating an experience.