Coffee in London has come a long way. When Greedy Girl lived in that huge city, ahem, a couple of decades ago, a coffee lover’s only real option was a local Italian restaurant. Now, serious baristas can be found all over the city.

It could be argued the initial epicentre was Soho, with such well established spots as Flat White and Milk Bar. Nearby, Kaffeine has just celebrated its fifth birthday in Fitzrovia. Now, just up Great Titchfield Street, there’s Attendant.

Coffee in London: Attendant

Sarcasm and coffee proves to be a winning combo

This is on a corner with Foley Street, just outside a groovy gastropub, the Crown and Sceptre. The sign out the front alerts you to the potential of what’s down the stairs.

The cafe is a converted Victorian era toilet. Some of the, ahem, fixtures, are still to be found, including porcelain urinals, a cistern mounted high on the wall and a hand dryer from a rather more recent era left randomly in the middle of a panel. It’s guaranteed to give you a bit of a chuckle as you descend into the small main room but this is way more than a gimmick. It’s seriously good.

Unsurprisingly, Attendant is rather a small cafe. There’s seating for perhaps 15 people and that makes the space very crowded. Interestingly, peak time seems to be mid-afternoon; being very close to our accommodation, we started most days there and often popped back after lunch.

The Australian influences are obvious but the team behind the coffee machine is very multicultural. We had Australian and US baristas on our visit but there seemed to be a few other nationalities among the staff. We were lucky to nab one of the high tables each visit, order some excellent coffee and snacks, enjoy the indie tunes blasting out and make use of the free wi-fi.

Our first visit, we ordered our standard double espressos with a little jug of steamed milk on the side, a very good-looking slice of banana bread and a delish chocolate and peanut butter cookie.

Coffee in London: Attendant

Aussie touches are evident

The coffee is sourced from all over the world and fresh roasted beans are delivered daily. While it’s less robust than Kaffeine, the flavour is round, full and smooth. Greedy Girl was very happy to switch to a Piccolo (cafe latte served in a macchiato glass – same amount of coffee/much less milk) while gluttonous husband stayed with his double espressos which he found eminently sippable.

Over a number of visits, we sampled some other treats. There’s not a huge range of food (there’s no space for anything to be large here), but apart from the banana bread and cookie combo, we also tried a good buttery, flaky croissant as well as some tasty treats for lunch – a wild mushroom tartine and a spicy tomato soup.

Coffee in London: Attendant

Mushroom tartine

Coffee in London: Attendant

Spicy tomato soup

Both dishes were very tasty – there was a good variety of mushrooms and the bread was topped with some wilted spinach and a quenelle of a tangy goat’s cheese. Greedy Girl freely admits she’d rather eat fresh spinach but the added moisture here was welcome. One slight irritation was that the bread was very hard to cut through with the implements provided. Gluttonous husband took the tomato soup which he pronounced very satisfying. It had a slight level of spice and a deep tomato tang.

Done. It was our final snack in London before we packed our bags and headed for Heathrow and a long flight to Hong Kong.

Attendant is a cool place and a haven for coffee lovers. If there’s any lingering queasiness about its history, the cafe’s website says it ceased operating as a public toilet in the 1960s and remained dormant for around 50 years. Presumably the installation of the hand dryer (referred to above) was deliberate, to add another quirk.

One imagines that, in poor weather, it’s a rather snug little bunker. The coffee’s great, the snacks are good and the ambience from both the music and service is terrific. All round, a thoroughly enjoyable spot.

Coffee in London: Attendant

Some of the original, er, fittings


27A Foley Street, London W1

Attendant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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