FreeState Coffee – Holborn

Reviewed on March 8th, 2015 by Dina

On the outside of the quaint Sicilian Avenue is FreeState Coffee. There is a good buzz and a relaxed atmosphere with this coffee shop.

Wooden tables and chairs, a bit like Victorian school desks are inside and there are also benches for the outdoor seating. The tables are decorated with green foliage and berries in vases. Lots of natural light comes through into the seating area.

The staff are friendly and give service with a smile. They make you feel like a valued customer. There is a counter near the entrance where you place your coffee and food order. Once your order has been made, your name is called out and you go and collect it.

An additional counter is where the V60 Drip Coffee is made. V60 Drip Coffee is a manual style of coffee brewing where the coffee flows through a cone straight into your cup.

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At the moment, my coffee of choice seems to be the Americano. The popular Latte has become too heavy and milky for my liking. It is guaranteed that at some point my drink preference will change, maybe with the change of seasons.

As FreeState only do caffeinated coffee, a Flat White soya coffee was had this time. It came in a small green cup. It was a really smooth rounded coffee. There are guest espressos and a daily brew available. On this particular day, the special brew was Caravan roasted Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee.

A perfect treat with the coffee was the Pastel de Nata. Sweet, creamy filling encased by the flaky pastry was delicious. The staff were accommodating when we asked if we could have the pastries that had not been on display. They gave us them from the fridge behind the counter.

All of the croissants, muffins and pastries are baked daily on site. There are also freshly made sandwiches, soups and salads. It is a shame that all of the baked goods and the sandwiches are on open display where the customers queue. It would have been better for the items to be displayed behind the counter or at least with covers. The food looked of a high quality. There was an interesting soup of the day, Kale and Quinoa.

FreeState is a wonderful place and it feels like a “proper” coffee shop with its quality coffee, friendly staff and a good place to come and relax!

FreeState Coffee, 23 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5HA

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Guglee – Finchley Road

Reviewed on February 22nd, 2015 by Dina

After a spot of shopping and browsing, it was originally planned to go to the movies. But as there was nothing enticing on, dinner out happened instead. Even though the O2 Centre has a few eateries, we ventured further down the road to Guglee.

Guglee’s bright orange sign states Modern Indian Cuisine. Inside, vibrant colourful canvases of rickshaws and the Taj Mahal decorated the walls. Bollywood music played in the background. A gold metal menu contained the many dishes and it took us a while to decide what to order as we were spoilt for choice.

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The Veggie Platter was what we started with as its variety of snacks also included street food. Mashed up vegetables with a crunchy outer was the Almond Roll. The Mini Masala Dosa was a classic with its thin crepe stuffed full of potatoes. A crispy puri filled with tamarind chutney, mint chutney, chickpeas, potatoes, yogurt and sev made up the Sev Puri. Both of the Samosa and Spinach Onion Bhaji were tasty. All of the items of the Veggie Platter were delicious with their sweet, sour, tangy and spiced flavours.

Our feast at Guglee continued with two curries, rice and roti. The Yellow Tadka Dal was creamy and the flavour of the cumin came through. The Veggie Veggie 5 curry had carrots, courgette, green beans, babycorn and broccoli in a tomato and onion based sauce. This curry was slightly spicy.

A wholemeal flaky Tandoori Roti and Mushroom Rice completed the meal. It was a nice change to have the Mushroom Rice instead of regular plain rice. There were also cumin seeds in the rice.

The staff gave us nice service. They did not bother us whilst we were having our meal yet they were attentive. They gave us extra cutlery and the like when we asked for it and made sure our table was cleaned between our courses.

Guglee made for a great evening out with thoroughly delicious and fresh tasting Indian food.

Guglee, 7 New College Parade, London, NW3 5EP

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Darlingtons Tea Room – Nr Weedon

Reviewed on February 9th, 2015 by Dina

Darlingtons Tea Room is part of the Heart of the Shires Shopping Village. This lovely tea room serves freshly made home cooked food. If you are looking for something for breakfast, they have bacon sandwiches, beans on toast, sweet and savoury croissants.

As it was close to lunchtime, there was a range of food to choose from. The menu included quiches, salads, open sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soup.

The Parsnip Soup was creamy and slightly sweet. It was served with a freshly baked warm granary baguette. The soup and bread made for a filling and satisfying lunch. They also do gluten free bread rolls.

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A decaffeinated milky coffee was served by the mug. It was a good way to warm up on this cold day together with the soup.

The staff were really friendly, welcoming and gave good service. Darlingtons Tea Room had a traditional feel to it. Lots of sunshine streamed into the dining area at the back of the tea room. It was nice that the view from the tea room was out into the garden. There is also outdoor seating which would be lovely to sit out in the summer.

Darlingtons Tea Room is a hidden gem in the Northamptonshire countryside. If you do come here, make sure you leave some time to browse the variety of boutique shops of the Heart of the Shires Shopping Village.

Darlingtons Tea Room, Heart of the Shires, A5 Watling Street, Nr Weedon, Northants, NN7 4LB

Rating: ★★★★☆

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