Trying to find a moment of peace in an ordinary working London week is like trying to find a two-bedroom flat in Zone 2 for less than £1,000 per month. You know it exists because other people have it, but it just doesn’t seem to happen for you. Non-city dwellers find it difficult to understand the way we Londoners rush from place to place, walking faster than many can run and trying to squeeze on to already packed tubes when another one will be along in two minutes, but it’s just because we have so much to do. When we do finally arrive home for the evening, there is no guarantee of peace as due to the astronomical property prices, we’re all living on top of each other. Last night my next door neighbour came home a little worse for wear and dropped his keys on the mat four times before he finally got them into the lock. Cursing creatively each time.
This week, trying to make it to the weekend has involved an obstacle course of a full working week, two blogger events, an impromptu pub crawl with old friends and a Band of Bakers meeting. I’ve been to almost every corner of the city and have the blisters to prove it. Even my precious night in last night involved budget planning, wedding planning and who knows what else. Eating dinner in front of my laptop is becoming a habit. Friday has never felt so good.
One thing that I have been thankful for this week is the abundance of good cafes close to my office. It’s only when you’ve worked in an obscure part of London you realise the beauty of the West End and its many eateries. When you’re too tired to make breakfast, need a mid-morning pick-me-up or simply want to have coffee with a friend, there they are. So this may not be useful to many of you who do not work in this lovely little part of London, but here are some cafes close to BBC New Broadcasting House that will always save the day when you’re having a tough week:
Attendant, Foley Street
This was my main discovery this week, so it warrants two blog posts. I had often been curious about the little cafe in the Victorian converted toilet and, this week, I found out just how good it was. It was their first birthday on Tuesday, so I popped along to have a flat white and little salted caramel brownie and enter their raffle (which, sadly, I didn’t win). The following day, with a bit of a headache caused by necking amaretto sours in The Palmerston, I popped in again for breakfast. It’s a great little place and, one you get over the idea of drinking coffee in a cleaned-up urinal, one you will keep wanting to come back to. They use Caravan coffee and have a small but perfectly formed range of pastries, cakes and sandwiches. Plus the staff are bloody lovely.
Scandinavian Kitchen, Great Titchfield Street
There are few people who work around here that have not been to the Scandinavian kitchen and, in recent years, it has become something of a Fitzrovia institution. Often they have a board outside offering ‘free hugs’, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a nice change from the general soup/sandwich lunch options in the many chain cafes on Oxford Street and Regent Street – they do a lunch deal of three or five items that you can select to make up your own smoregsboard. On my last visit I opted for egg on rye, a smoked salmon wrap and a pickled cabbage salad. Their coffee is good and their cinnamon buns pretty damn excellent.
Kaffeine, Great Titchfield Street
This antipodean-style cafe is one of the best-known coffee shops in London and is famous for the quality of their coffee and the experience of their baristas. They use Square Mile beans and have a delicious range of breakfasts and sandwiches which, admittedly, are a little on the expensive side. It is a local favourite and is always packed out around breakfast and lunch. If you get the chance, try the Anzac Biscuits for a taste of down under.