Marine Ices – Camden Town/Chalk Farm

Reviewed on August 22nd, 2014 by Dina

For all you gelato enthusiasts, such as ourselves, it is a relief to know that the institution that is Marine Ices is not closing down. Instead it is moving to a new location, just down the road, with the shop front marked by the beautiful wisteria tree!

The new branch of Marine Ices is concentrating on what it does best: gelato, sorbets, sundaes, milkshakes, sauces and toppings! Coming to Marine Ices makes you feel like a kid in a sweet shop! The range of ice cream flavours displayed in the front counter makes you spoilt for choice. So much so that the only solution that worked for myself is by letting the staff choose.

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Creamy gelatos and fruity sorbets make a good combination. It is difficult to choose a favourite but there a few that do stand out. Dark Chocolate with Pieces is not too rich and has the right level of sweetness. The Mint Choc Chip gives that intense hit of fresh mint. The simple Coffee and Strawberry flavours are done perfectly. These are just a snapshot of what Marine Ices has to offer and from past experience, other flavours that have been had have always impressed.

As for sorbets, the ones that stand out are the Mango and the Raspberry. The Raspberry is not too sour or tart and come to think of it, it would go well with the Dark Chocolate gelato. The Mango is delicious and the reason for this is that the king of mangoes, the Alphonso, is used to make it!

Marine Ices is proud to source local ingredients and to support other local businesses. Hence, the coffee that they serve is from Black Sheep from Camden High Street.

Something that has made me look forward to return to Marine Ices (not that I need an excuse) is to try the cakes and cookies. These are supplied from the artisan bakery Galeta. The one that I am looking forward to trying is the fruit Pastel de Nata; the Portuguese egg custard tart.

Friendly staff at Marine Ices greet you and allow you the time to choose your order. They are happy to make flavour suggestions and combinations too. It is refreshing to know that hygiene is top of the list with Marine Ices. All of their products, including the cakes and cookies will be displayed covered in transparent containers.

Marine Ices has some seating area at the back of the cafe or you can have your gelato delights to take away. In our eyes, we are happy that Marine Ices is staying in Camden to serve its customers with its sweet treats. It has been around for 83 years and let’s hope that it continues for many more!

To end the post, in Fabiano’s (the manager) own words:

“All our gelati and sorbets are made to the original recipes that Gaetano Mansi brought with him from Italy as a young man. Those same recipes that have been passed down through the generations, we don’t let any artificial ingredients near them. Everything is completely natural and free from any animal products ensuring that all our produce today have a mouth wateringly authentic flavour”.

Marine Ices, Old Dairy Farm, 61A Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, NW1 8AN

Rating: ★★★★★

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Andronicas World of Coffee – Covent Garden

Reviewed on August 20th, 2014 by Dina

If you are looking for this coffee shop, then do not expect to see a sign saying Andronicas outside of it. Instead look for a neon lit Espresso Bar sign in the window.

After a lot of time walking up and down Floral Street several times and getting blank responses from neighbouring shops when asked if they knew where Andronicas was, we began to believe that Andronicas did not exist. So, we gave up and picked the closest coffee shop which had several signs outside of it displaying Espresso Bar.

It is not until we entered the cafe that there was a picture of a map and in the corner, the magical words of Andronicas World of Coffee appeared. The name Andronicas was everywhere inside the cafe: by the counter, on the coffee cups, on the menu but just nowhere on the outside. Not displaying the name of the coffee shop on the outside is a big mistake in our eyes.

Andronicas CounterAndronicasAndronicas Seating AreaAndronicas SandwichesAndronicas TeaAndronicas SconeAndronicas Map SignAndronicas Hot ChocolateAndronicas Counter DisplayAndronicas DisplayAndronicas DecorAndronicas Menu

To calm ourselves down from the frustration and feeling like we deserved a treat, we chose to have the Afternoon Tea. Luckily once we were in the cafe, things did improve. The staff gave us good efficient service. They were friendly apart from one member of staff. For the whole time that we were in Andronicas, this staff member made us feel like we should quickly have our food and drink and then leave.

The Afternoon Tea did not come with the traditional finger sandwiches. Instead, two little white rolls were served with the warm fillings. A sesame topped white roll had gammon ham, melted cheese and cucumber. Mozzarella, tomato and pesto made up the poppy seeded roll. Both of the sandwiches tasted delicious with the fresh fillings.

A big warm fruit scone came with an individual jar of strawberry jam, butter and a small bowl of clotted cream. It was served after we had finished our sandwiches.

The Earl Grey came in a small white teapot with a milk jug on the side. The hot chocolate was perfect. It was not too heavy. When we told the staff that the hot chocolate was slightly cold, they quickly replaced it was a hot one without any fuss.

Andronicas only has a couple of tables and a breakfast bar like area running through the middle of the cafe. Fresh flowers brightened the place. There were pastries on display at the counter. Shelves around the shop displayed various coffee makers and equipment.

The main reason we chose to come to Andronicas was that we thought that it would be quieter due to its location down the side street, even though it was in Covent Garden. The cafe was not too busy on this weekday but it is likely to be a lot more popular on the weekends.

In the end, Afternoon Tea at Andronicas was lovely; it was just a shame about our struggling quest to hunt its location out!

Andronicas World of Coffee, 28A Floral Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DP

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Kaffeine – Fitzrovia

Reviewed on July 20th, 2014 by Dina

Glorious blue sky summer days means the pleasure of making the most of the great outdoors but also taking the chance for a relaxed lunch. Kaffeine is a very popular cafe with queues coming out the door at busy times. Wooden panels and crate like tables make up the small seating area with some high stools near to the counter. There is a bench outdoors too.

Kaffeine serves up one of the best smoothest coffees and one that I would return for. The Americano decaf was served in a matching black cup and saucer with soy milk. The food is displayed in the counter fridge and includes toasted foccacia sandwiches, baguettes, tarts and salads. As the food is seasonal, Kaffeine has a menu that changes each week.

KaffeineKaffeine Vegetarian TartKaffeine Chocolate and Hyssop FriandKaffeine InteriorKaffeine CoffeeKaffeine Interior 2

The vegetarian tart on offer on this particular visit was roasted vegetables in a Gruyere pastry with saffron cream. The pastry was thin, light and crispy. Parsnips, aubergine, red pepper, onion and courgette made up the chunky filling. It could have done with slightly less saffron cream. The tart was garnished with wood sorrel.

For something sweet, the chocolate and hyssop friand was chosen. The cake was almond based and was not too dense. The chocolate and almond made a wonderful combination with the hyssop icing. In Kaffeine’s own words, this is what hyssop is:

“Hyssop is a foraged plant that is quite resilient and best picked in early spring or early autumn when it’s in blossoms. The leaves and stems have a menthol aroma and taste of a combination of peppermint and lavender.”

Kaffeine

There are lots of other sweet treats on offer such as cookies, brownies, Portuguese tarts and muffins. It is a shame that the cakes are not covered and are just on display on the counter top. The staff gave service with a smile and were efficient.

Kaffeine is a great cafe with fresh tasting food and undeniably fantastic coffee! It makes for a lovely place for just coffee or for lunch.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7QJ

Rating: ★★★★½

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