Category : CENTRAL

Comptoir Libanais, Broadwick Street

Le Comptoir Libanais, Soho
Fresh Mint Tea
Le Comptoir Libanais
Soho
Having enjoyed a pomegranate tea at Le Comptoir Libanais, Wigmore Street in September, I was pleased to discover they have a new branch at a more central location in Soho.

Broadwick Street is close to Carnaby Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street but tucked away off the beaten track so a good place to know to get away from the crowds.

This time I was looking forward to trying the fresh mint tea. Served in a traditional silver teapot and a pretty glass, it was perfect with my honey-sweetened pastries.

The same silver teapots, brightly coloured baskets and exotic (more…)

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Where to Buy Tea in London: The Tea House

Tea Pots The Tea House, Covent Garden
Cast Iron Tea Pots
The Tea House
Covent Garden
The exterior of The Tea House Covent Garden is reminiscence of a Japanese screen.
Black lacquer window frames form a grid on four levels – each square containing a display of teapots, cups and tea. Vermilion lettering enhances the oriental feel.

The shop has been on the same spot in Neal Street since 1982. It is good to see an independent still trading amongst the larger stores.

What I like best about The Tea House is their range of unusual (more…)

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Tibits, Heddon Street

Tibits Heddon Street
Jasmine Tea Ball
Tibits
Heddon Street
In January at the same time as needing to ‘tighten our belts’, we may find our actual belts are quite tight after the Christmas feast.

For a reasonably priced, healthy lunch, dinner or to take tea, I really like Tibits, the Swiss-owned vegetarian restaurant on Heddon Street.

I enjoyed a delicious plate of fresh salads, bursting with colour and flavours; a welcome antidote to the holiday choc-fest.

Of the all the places to eat on Heddon St., Tibits is the most relaxed, with a take away as well as sit down service. The decor is clean and fresh, with blond wood and bold patterned (more…)

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Booking Office, St Pancras station

Tea, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Jasmine tea
St Pancras
Booking Office
St Pancras station was famously saved from developers in the 1960s due to a campaign by John Betjeman and the Victorian Society.

Betjeman vividly described St Pancras as:

“…that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill…outlined against a foggy sunset…the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street.”

Today, a statue of Betjeman by Martin Jennings stands on the upper (more…)

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Roast + Conch, Hotel Chocolat, Covent Garden

Hotel Chocolat, Seven Dials
Jasmine Tea
Roast and Conch
Hotel Chocolat, Monmouth Street is easy to find; simply follow your nose and outside no. 4 you will perceive a sweet aroma in the air.

Peer in the window, and the source of the smell, a metallic contraption, is roasting cocoa beans in preparation for making chocolate.

Inside, the shelves are laden with chocolate; slabs, blocks and truffles, all manner of shapes and flavours.

Descend the wrought-iron spiral staircase to Roast and Conch where the beans are ‘conched‘ to make small batches of chocolate. (more…)

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ICA Café, The Mall

Cafe ICA, Mall
English Breakfast Tea
ICA Cafe
Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the British Isles from 1830-34. Famous for having a type of tea named after him, he lived at number 13 Carlton House Terrace.

Next door, at number 12, the Institute of Contemporary Arts has a lovely café, that serves a good cup of tea all these years later.

The ICA was formed in the 1940’s by Surrealist Roland Penrose and anarchist Herbert Read as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. It has been in the Mall since the sixties.
Today, there is an art house cinema, gallery space, and art bookshop. They stock an impressive range of art theory books with zippy titles (more…)

Posted in CENTRAL, MUSEUMS/GALLERIES, Trafalgar Square | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane

Tea at Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane
Beijing Breakfast
from Laoshan Mountain
Shangdong Province

‘…the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’

T.S. Elliot.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Prufrock coffee has a reputation bar none in the world of the coffee geek. I hope they don’t mind being referred to as geeks as they are charming and friendly folk, but the lengths they go to make a brew are impressive.
No flicking the kettle on here, this is a veritable laboratory of caffeine. Chrome contraptions to weigh, time, filter and take temperature.
(more…)

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Canteen, Covent Garden

Canteen Covent Garden
English Breakfast
Canteen
Covent Garden
‘Convent’ Garden was the 13th century kitchen garden of the Abbey of St Peter, Westminster.

In 1630 the Duke of Bedford commissioned Inigo Jones to build houses ‘fit for the habitations of gentleman’. Inspired by trips to Italy, he created Covent Garden Piazza – the first open square in England.

Market stalls have been trading in the area since the mid-17th century. When the fire of London destroyed smaller markets, it became the most important fruit, veg and flower market in the country.

In 1973 the market was relocated to Nine Elms and Covent Garden faced demolition. It was saved by campaigners, and is now a lively area of shops and (more…)

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Liberty Cafe, Regents Street

Liberty Cafe
Darjeeling
Liberty Cafe
Liberty was established in 1874 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty, selling ornaments and objet d’art from the East. By the end of the 19th century it was hugely fashionable and influential, collaborating with the foremost designers of the day, particularly of the Art and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles. In Italy Art Nouveau is known as ‘Stile Liberty’.
The store was frequented by artists and aesthetes – Oscar Wilde declared:

“Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.”

Over the years Liberty has worked with contemporary designers and artists including William Morris, Gabriel Dante (more…)

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Caravan, King’s Cross

Caravan Kings Cross
Green Tea
Caravan Kings Cross
The extraordinary redevelopment of the area around Kings Cross Station continues apace. Since the Eurostar terminal arrived at St Pancras in 2007, the area has seen the opening of King’s Place – a canal side arts centre and home of the Guardian newspaper; the restoration and reopening of Sir Gilbert Scott’s much-loved Midland Hotel and an impressive new roof at Kings Cross Station.

Recently Granary Square, an expansive cobbled space north of Regents Canal, has opened, making apparent the scale of the final project (it even has a new postcode, NC1).
Formerly a canal basin where barges unloaded their goods, (more…)

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Choccywoccydoodah, Foubert’s Place

Choccywoccydoodah
Pot of Tea
Choccywoccydoodah
Newburgh St. is a pleasant cobbled side street running parallel to Carnaby street – a handy cut-through from Oxford Circus to Soho. I was doing just this, when I noticed a handsome shop on the corner of Foubert’s Place which seemed to be glowing red from inside.

“That’s very curious!” she thought. “But everything’s curious to-day. I think I may as well go in at once.” And in she went.

(Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
Lewis Carroll
)

Inside Choccywoccydoodah (more…)

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Where to Buy Tea in London: Twinings, Strand

Twinings London
Twinings London
Thomas Twining started selling tea from his coffee shop just off Strand in 1706. Tom’s had a library and was ‘…a place renowned for its polite and scholarly interests’.

Twinings is still run by Thomas’s family. Over the years they have sold tea to Jane Austen, Sir Christopher Wren and Winston Churchill.

The distinctive doorway, with its Chinese figures and golden lion, dates from 1797. The Twinings logo, chosen in 1787, is the oldest in continual use.

On entering Twinings London shop, the first thing you notice is the wonderful (more…)

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Fleet River Bakery, Holborn

Fleet River Bakery
Karma tea
Fleet River Bakery
The Fleet River is one of London’s lost rivers. Running underground from Hampstead via Kentish Town, Kings Cross and Clekenwell into the Thames at Blackfriars; it was once a major waterway with healing wells along it’s course.
With the industrial revolution, the once clear waters became polluted and the Fleet was gradually bricked over. There are some extraordinary photos and a brief history of the river here.

The Fleet River Bakery is in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, behind Holborn Station. A welcome independent cafe in this area of chains, they bake everything on site from scratch. Emphasis is on the (more…)

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Tom’s Kitchen, Somerset House

Toms Somerset House
English Breakfast
Tea Tom’s Kitchen
One my recent visit to Samuel Johnson’s House, I bought a booklet of essays entitled ‘Tea and coffee in the age of Dr Johnson’; a fascinating insight into the coffee houses of 18th century London.
I learned that one of the early coffee shops was called Tom’s. Established by Thomas Twining in 1706 nearby the shop on Strand that sells tea to this day. Tom’s had a library and was ‘…a place renowned for its polite and scholarly interests’*. Further up Fleet Street was Nando’s coffee shop (perhaps shortened from Fernando’s).

I am reminded of this 300 odd years later, and (more…)

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