“Life seems so am/pm. But really, it’s not all as balanced as that…” ― Jarod Kintz, A Zebra is the Piano of the Animal Kingdom
Cakes and coffee hit:
The door is wide open
Hey there, No. 26 –
How did you know
You’d be the place
We couldn’t resist?
Even though in most coffee shops, the air is calm and the service is nice enough – a lot of Londoners can probably relate to finding the majority of places to be quite hasty and cold in the way they have to ‘welcome’ you in…
Even though I spend a lot of time ordering Mochas and eyeing up cakes in new locations on repeat, I confess that I still get *those* awkward moments of unease when trying somewhere new.
I mean, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good the cakes look or how much space is available for you to sit inside if the staff can’t just ‘let you be’… You ready or what? (Say their expressions) – Forced greetings. Chop, chop. Next! Then you’ve got to worry about finding a seat. Pressure much?! And then you feel your mind gulping and going fffiiiiizzzzzzzzz. It can’t just be me?!
But at no. 26, the process is completely different. Everything about this place is beyond warm – it is welcoming. Despite its minimalistic design and plain white walls, you are sucked in and made to feel right at home straight away – the open door really makes a difference (though this is my subconscious speaking). There is something incredibly warm in here.
The baristas are then happy to let you gawk at the display for as long as you like; they treat you as more than just another customer. I can’t explain it? They speak to you differently here, and it isn’t just a front they get paid to do. There is an effortlessness about their vibe which is what makes it so hard to explain. No. 26 has hired genuinely nice people who smile even when they aren’t serving and you’ve dropped crumbs everywhere like the worst customer ever (shout out to the girl with really long strawberry-blonde ish hair).
Oh, and this is probably a *good* time to mention that the quality of their coffee is really something too. The mocha is a thick, a heavenly blend of chocolate and smooth roast. Full bodied. Decadent but delicate; it’s rich and frothy-creamy, but not in the sickly sort of way. The coffee and hot chocolate here are like… equal strength in perfect balance, strong – but not bitter; this one is dark and truly real. Love! I go back for two.
We arrived at about 11:30am, and it was pretty quiet. By 12pm everything deadened a little bit more, which seemed a little contradictory, but no complaints. Come 1:20pm though, the tables are filled and the place has become progressively more packed with chunky sandwiches and upbeat chit chat. By 2, everything’s back to being all mellow and chill.
No. 26 definitely appears to be a local hotspot that has made one heck of a sweet name for itself. Jessie and I had only wandered over to this side of Tottenham Court Road after the sister branch – 114, was too full for us to sit. Heading over to this end was the best (and tastiest) decision of the day.
When I had finally chosen something to nibble on, an equally indecisive business man and his friend walked in and joined the queue behind me. Then we made light conversation about how difficult it is to choose a bake here. Even the customers are nice, I thought to myself. In the end, they vouched for the butter-cream filled sponge cake…
The barista had dropped in a line about how the chocolate loaf was her firm favourite and promisingly “moist”. In the end it wasn’t all that moist, but it was still damn good. Though there were brownies too:
Also, I didn’t think the frosting was generous enough for the frosting addict that = me…but Jessie said the sweetness of it was perfectly on point, although we both would have preferred a little more moisture. It’s the kind of cake you can indulge in without having to admit to; perfect for those morning ‘coffee-and-cake-kind-of-dates’; A light chocolate fix – a bread. Not a dessert. That’s why they call it loaf 😉
Did I mention the double chocolate chip cookies yet?
No 26: A gem, though not quite hidden; people know about it – and with good reason too. So go-go-go for your morning brews + complimentary Wi-Fi access that is scrawled out onto this chained canister… I like.
Finally, the last reason why you should go here is because their cutlery is fit for princes/princesses (see the pics), and they basically serve their beverages with the prettiest spoons I’ve ever picked up (see the mocha above). The deal is so sealed.
No.26 – Rathbone PlaceW1T 1JD | Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm | Sat: 10am-6pm