Milkbar, SoHo

6 Sep

Monmouth coffee is undoubtedly one of the best places to grab a coffee around the Covent Garden/Leicester Square area, but unfortunately it wasn’t open on a Sunday so I had to look for other options. Interestingly it seems that many of the more popular coffee haunts are ‘ferme’ on a Sunday, however I stumbled across Flat White Cafe during my excitable googling, and it had good reviews. Good start! It actually comes in two parts – its other cafe, Milkbar, is just round the corner. On the website it said it was for people who liked ‘coffee, food, art and music’, so Milkbar it was. I met my friend A at Leicester Square and it was an easy 5 minute walk to find the place. It looks pretty cool from the outside, modern big windows and a couple of nice benches for people to perch and enjoy their coffee outside should they wish. Walking inside it was ever so slightly reminiscent of an upmarket dairy parlour (my mind does work in bizarre ways); benches with comfy cushions and tables and chairs lined the left of the long room, and an almost clinical counter sporting glass cabinets of scrummy looking cakes rested atop. The boys appeared to be cooking all the food freshly just behind the counter (I’ve heard good things about the eggs), as I couldn’t spot a separate kitchen.

A and I had a lot of catching up to do and managed to find a nice comfy table tucked around the back of the counter, giving us a bit more privacy. We ordered our drinks; I had a skinny latte and she had a mocha. Prices were relatively reasonable for a speciality sit in coffee in the heart of Soho (though my frugality still can’t come to terms with the spectacular rates of inflation) at around £2.50 each. The coffee I had was … good. The flavours didn’t blow me away, but the coffee itself was incredibly well made with a smooth, silky texture, and perfect temperature. The coffee was a blend of Columbian and Brazilian beans (Capao and Bella Vista), with almond and hazelnut flavours, sweet undertones of chocolate and a mellow richness. It wasn’t particularly bold and I wonder whether it would have been better enjoyed as an espresso. I’m not a big mocha drinker but the mocha appeared to have been made with actual dark chocolate (yum). There wasn’t much of the coffee flavour coming through, but I personally enjoyed the chocolatey-ness!

When I spoke to the guy behind the bar, interestingly he didn’t seem particularly excited about this blend either, and he actually mentioned that they had some new blends coming in very soon. They change their beans seasonally (supplied from Square Mile), so seem to get a fair few different flavours in. They also sell beans in 350g bags (prices on website – I think it’s around £7).

Overall I did very much enjoy the atmosphere – the music was very laid back, there were random painted skateboards covering the walls, and there were comfortable tables. The coffee was very well made but the blend on this particular day didn’t blow me away – the fact that they’ll be changing the blend makes me intruiged to go back and try it out again. The one thing I am a bit puzzled about is the advertisement on the website about it being the place to be for lovers of coffee, food art and music. The coffee I get, and from what I hear about the food I can understand that too, but the music seemed to be pretty standard relaxed sound tracking – there didn’t appear to be any links to local musicians or what-not (which would add a nice touch given such an artistic area), and there didn’t seem to be much reference to art either (apart from the ten or so skateboards). The website does mention that the art changes, so perhaps I missed something, but as a keen artist I was hoping for more of a story behind some of the art, and again, perhaps some local artistry. For a catch up over a very decent cup of coffee in the heart of Soho though, it’s a no-brainer!

Score: 8/10 – I would like to try a different blend of coffee, and also feel that a bit more of a story behind the art and music would give Milkbar a bit more of an edge. Overall it was a good, laid-back atmosphere, friendly service and well made coffee.

Price range: ~£2.50 (cheaper for t.a.)

Would I go back? Yes, if I was in the area.

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