The Waiting Room – Whetstone

Reviewed on May 10th, 2015 by Dina

A slightly different take on a cafe, The Waiting Room teams itself with its small home furnishing store. The Waiting Room is a really cute cafe adorned with fairy lights, dressers lined with lamps, frames, tealights and flowers. A garland of hearts decorates the cafe window. Stars hang above the lamps and small chandeliers also make up the lighting.

At the back of The Waiting Room, there are a few cosy seats. The rest of the cafe is made up of table and chairs. The soft lighting and jazz music create a lovely ambiance. Even though the cafe was busy, it was not noisy. There was a gentle hum about the place.

The staff were friendly and not intruding. They provided excellent personal service. The Waiting Room seemed to have its regular customers with the staff taking time out to chat to them. It made it feel like the staff were caring.

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As I was seated at the back of the cafe, I was next to the kitchen. It looked clean and compact. There was not much noise from the kitchen and hence it did not impact on the atmosphere.

The tea that caught my eye was the rooibos with cherry. The tea was from the Little Sparrow range of loose teas. A heavy silver teapot with its own stand contained the tea. There was a traditional feel to the teaware. Small flowers decorated the teacup and saucer.

The aroma of the cherry was strong from the loose tea. Sometimes teas can be a letdown, as in they do not taste as good as they smell. With this Little Sparrow tea, the taste of the cherry with the rooibos was divine. The staff had no problem refilling my tea when the pot was empty.

The Afternoon Tea continued with the silver theme and it was presented on a square silver cake stand. Squares of soft bread, one filled with classic cucumber and the other with cheese and pickle were the fresh sandwiches. It was nice to have a combination of white and brown bread.

The two small fruit scones were delightful. The attention to detail really made the Afternoon Tea at The Waiting Room great. Shot glasses with teaspoons contained thick clotted cream and strawberry jam. Whole pieces of strawberry made the jam more special.

The last of the cakes were the macaroon and chocolate brownie. The almond macaroon was perfectly crispy on the outside with a chewy texture and creamy filling. Rich, gooey and moist made up the intense chocolate brownie. Just to make it more indulgent it was lovely to have it with a little bit of the clotted cream and jam.

The Waiting Room gives a ray of sunshine to a dull rainy day. It definitely brought me that happy feeling. It is a gem of a place and I am excited to introduce my friends to the wonderful world of The Waiting Room!

The Waiting Room, 50-52 Totteridge Lane, Whetstone, London, N20 9QJ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Old Tree Bakery – Golders Green

Reviewed on March 29th, 2015 by Dina

Old Tree Bakery is a Taiwanese bakery with displays of its buns and cakes in the shop window. This bakery is a little different in the sense that it prides itself on trying to keep their products low in salt, sugar and fat. All of their food is baked fresh every day on site. Trays of small bags of hand made cookies are also on display.

It was great to see that the baked good items were all covered on the shelves and that it was not self service. After we were seated, we went to the front of the store to choose our delights. One of the staff picked all of our items and packed them for us as we had wanted some for takeaway.

To dine in at Old Tree Bakery, the Chinese mushrooms, bamboo and vegetables in soup was ordered. The big bowl of steaming soup was packed full of the vegetables and garnished with coriander. The soup was very flavoursome with a slightly sweet and sour taste and it was also thicker than I had expected. It was a hearty soup with its gravy like broth.

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As I was not feeling adventurous to try the milky bubble tea, a decaffeinated Americano was had instead. Coffee and cake are a match made in heaven. The coffee bun was soft and had a light texture to it. The coffee paste that intertwined through the bun was just sweet enough.

Old Tree Bakery felt clean and well maintained. The cafe area is of a medium size with some comfy seating by the windows and normal tables by the counter. There are a few tables and chairs outside too. The staff were friendly and gave us good service.

There are so many cakes, buns and savoury dishes that Old Tree Bakery has on offer and it really is hard to decide which ones to choose. It is great that the products are available for takeaway. The Curry Bun that was had as a takeaway was equally delicious as the other food had at the bakery. The bun was fresh, soft and had a slight sweetness to it. The curry filling was potato based and not too spicy.

It was great to have such a wonderful first experience of Taiwanese food and it is all thanks to Old Tree Bakery!

Old Tree Bakery, 105 Golders Green Road, Golders Green, London, NW11 8HR

Rating: ★★★★☆

Old Tree on Urbanspoon

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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